I love anything that makes my life easier. Anything that will do my job FOR me. This is why I’m madly in love with things like my dishwasher, my washer and dryer, my crockpot, my microwave, my Kitchen-Aid mixer, Downy Wrinkle-Releaser Spray, cruise control, my GPS (Well really anything my iPhone will do for me—Siri is my best friend), the internet, and other modern time-savers that make my daily tasks so easy.
While these things make the everyday things a breeze, I think this easy, instant-gratification lifestyle that most of us live can make Christianity a lot harder. The devil has always been a master at distracting people from thinking about things like salvation, the consequences of sin, and eternity. But today, more than ever. He’s right there to make sure our days are filled with activity, entertainment, and obligations. I believe there was a time when Bible study, meditation, prayer, and just basic prioritizing were easier. Not too long ago, there was no Facebook, No Twitter, no TV….you get the idea.
Now before I start sounding like your grandma, let me just say that I’m writing this more for me than I am for you. I need to hear myself say it. A few weeks ago, just within a few days of each other, the world lost three souls who I am confident went on to their reward in paradise. Mrs. Hope Shull focused her energies and talents on encouraging young people to fight the good fight. She was one of my biggest encouragers as a teenager and college student. She knew that living for God wasn’t easy, and she made it a point every day to inspire kids like me to see why we do what we do. She was never too busy to welcome you into her library office and just listen when you were discouraged. Mrs. Jane McWhorter was also an expert in encouragement. I remember times when she took the time to write me and edify me for no reason at all, and how much that meant to me. She was a Bible scholar, teaching scores of women through her published books, ladies days, classes and seminars. Her humble and selfless spirit, just like Mrs. Hope’s, made me want to be just like her. I was the closest, however, to the third soul we lost–a man named Arnold Wright. He didn’t write any books or conduct any gospel meetings—not here in the states anyway. He taught me to love souls. He taught me that nothing else matters except securing your own salvation and then seeking out people who love truth enough to accept it, so that you can share heaven with them one day. He taught me to get over myself and put myself in other peoples’ shoes.
But what these people taught me more than anything else is that no one else can do this whole Christianity thing for you. Our short time on this earth isn’t like a crockpot. We can’t just believe, repent and be baptized, and expect the hard part—living a faithful Christian life—to just get done on it’s own. There’s no quick fix for that. No one is going to do it for you while you live your life carelessly.
Philippians 2:12 says to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Your parents aren’t going to do that for you. It doesn’t happen just by going to church. Your salvation—my personal relationship with God—has to be a constant, daily, passionate all-in endeavor. Christianity can’t be something you do. It must be who you are. It must be everything to you. That’s why, when referencing salvation, the Holy Spirit used words like “race,” “fight,” and “work” –all to be practiced with “fear and trembling.” None of that happens by accident. None of that happens without constant practice, self-examination, and ruthless determination…oh, and a little fear and trembling, as eternity is not something to sneeze at.
The passing of Mrs. Hope, Mrs. Jane, and Mr. Arnold broke my heart, as it did many others whose lives were touched by their examples. It’s my prayer that their deaths meant more than a crossing from this life to another. It’s my prayer that their passing, and the passing of every saint, causes us to reevaluate what we’re doing here on this earth. It’s just a fleeting moment of time in the eternal scheme of things.
I want to see them again. But I’ve got to remind myself daily that it won’t just happen by accident. It’s a race. They’ve won that race. I just have to keep running.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” ~Hebrews 12:1-2
Hope, at my college graduation ^
Mrs. Jane ^
Arnold, who always made me laugh ^