Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The God of My Present Tense

He is.  You are.  He, she, it is.  So goes the conjugation for the present tense of the verb "to be" in English.

As believers, we're related to a God who time and again refers to Himself as the “I Am," whose name means the “self-existent one." And I think that I, in my incredible dullness, am comprehending in some measure what these titles mean for me.

 “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being.”

Until recently, I had no idea my Christianity was supposed to be so real.   A living relationship with the "I Am" that breathes life into every project, delivers strength for every waking moment, and permeates every aspect of life’s moments with vitality.

I was the Christian who would have soul-thrilling devotions in the morning, reading passages in depth, unearthing golden nuggets from the Bible, and then live as if those precious minutes had never existed. 

For years, I had this incredible disconnect between the God of my quiet time and the God of my daily moments.  As a teen, I’d blow up when things didn’t go my way.  As a college student, I’d become frazzled when my schedule was interrupted.  As a Christian school teacher, I loathed intrusions into my perfectly plotted lesson plans.  As a wife, I inwardly rebelled at my husband’s requests when I was in the middle of another project.  And as a church member, I fretted about others’ problems or well-acclaimed positions.

But none of this is Christ’s way.  Every shred of worry is to be discarded as the waste it is and cast in the heap of rubbish at His feet.  Every bit of vainglory is to be left at the dunghill where it belongs.  Every tiny fragment of self-pity is to be destroyed.  Internal strife and every other work of the flesh must be traded for the beautiful, freeing life in Christ.

But since God is the God of the present tense, my journey is continually ongoing.  It never ceases.  I have never arrived. I have moment-by-moment tradeoffs that must be made, thinking that must be changed, and decisions that must be immediately embraced.

Someone today got a thing for which I had been hoping.  I felt a twinge of jealousy.  I heard, “Let nothing be done through…vainglory,” and I yielded.  The tradeoff was beautiful, because the strength of Christ filled me with joy.  Yesterday I found myself overly sensitive to my husband’s remarks.  I began to protest but inwardly heard, “Let all bitterness. . . be put away from you.”  I immediately confessed my sin and began rejoicing. 

The world is a beautiful place when Christ fills you with His joy.  But the cost is yieldedness, surrender, obedience.  This is not a high price when you get Him, the God of the present tense, instead.

Christianity is not pithy remarks.  It’s not a chock-full devotional book brimming with truth.  It’s a vitally transformative relationship that changes you, so that you live, not on a self-constructed spiritual elevation, but in constant fellowship with the God of the Present Tense.  People around you just know you’re a happy person.  They know you as flexible with whatever curve balls life throws your way.  That’s because the Prince of Peace reigns on the inside.  He really is your “I Am,” the God of your present tense.