I finished reading Crazy Love last night. The first nine chapters, combined with the emotions behind my last two blog posts, make chapter ten - the final chapter - my very favorite. Every word of the final chapter is great, but here are some of the passages that I noted:
"We respond with words like 'Amen', 'Convicting sermon', 'Great book'... and then are paralyzed as we try to decipher what God wants of our lives. I concur with Annie Dillard, who once said, 'How we live our days... is how we live our lives.' We each need to discover for ourselves how to live this day in faithful surrender to God as we 'continue to work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling.' (Phil 2:12)"
"Am I loving my neighbor and my God by living where I live, by driving what I drive, by talking how I talk? I urge you to consider and actually live as though each person you come into contact with is Christ."
Francis Chan goes on to clarify that he is NOT saying that everyone must become a missionary, or sell their worldly possessions... "What I can say is that you must learn to listen to and obey God, especially in a society where it's easy and expected to do what is most comfortable."
"I wrote this book because much of our talk doesn't match our lives. We say things like, 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,' and 'Trust the Lord with all your heart.' Then we live and plan like we don't believe God even exists. We try to set our lives up so everything will be fine even if God doesn't come through. But true faith means holding nothing back. It means putting every hope in God's fidelity to His promises."
"Jesus said, 'If you love me, you will obey what I command.' (John 14:15) Jesus did not say, 'If you love me you will obey me when you feel called or when you feel good about doing so.'"
"When people make changes in their lives like this [having full faith in God and obeying Him], it carries greater impact than when they merely make impassioned declarations. The world needs Christians who don't tolerate the complacency of their own lives."
There are dozens of paragraphs in this chapter that I did not rewrite here. It's powerful stuff. Encouraging. Convicting. Challenging. Thought provoking.
As I said in my last post, there are many reasons that things go undone... I talked about it with my girlfriend yesterday and she shared something with me about grace.
"God gives us grace each day to get through that day. He does not give us extra grace -- to get through today, and cover our worries about tomorrow and the next day. His grace is new each day, but it's for that day only."
Anticipating how things could go wrong is what causes me to stop in my tracks (tomorrow's worries!). Here's an everyday example that we are all familiar with... I know I should love my enemy. After time alone with God, I feel inspired to do it. I'm up for being nice to my enemy the next time our paths cross, but then I begin to wonder... What if I get bitten? What if I get bitten? It will hurt... It will most likely happen that way. I just can't risk it. Instead, I will just avoid my enemy.
Same applies for giving money... What if I give it away and then need it? Sure, it's going to a worthy cause, but feeding my kids is a greater cause.
Or is it?
If I really believe that life on this earth is a blink of an eye compared to all of eternity, then why do I care to hold on to material things? Or my lifestyle? Or a grudge? In the grand scheme of things, the house I live in, the clothes I wear and the car I drive are no more important than what I ate for breakfast today. In fact, the house, the car, the clothes and the grudge only serve to harm if I cannot live life without them. They become my idols.
Francis Chan wraps up the book by writing:
"What will people say about your life in heaven? Will people speak of God's work and glory through you? And even more important, how will you answer the King when he says, 'What did you do with what I gave you?'
"Daniel Webster once said, 'The greatest thought that has ever entered my mind is that one day I will have to stand before a holy God and give an account of my life.' He was right."
"I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:7-8
That is my prayer for today. That I will fight the good fight. That I will walk by faith. That I will not hesitate in my obedience to my Heavenly Father.