TAKE AN INVENTORY!
Crises are common, more so, every day. As a child, my parents went through crisis after crisis. War drove them from their homes and jobs. Father began in Poland, as a blacksmith, the Germans turned him into a farmer and the Canadians into a carpenter. He was self-employed and had to create his own income. I had to change at twenty-one. I was disabled from being a blacksmith, a farmer or a carpenter. I had to take an inventory of my life and see what I had left to work with. I was at my wits end and found myself strangely draw to a higher power for help. The medical people were only there temporarily. What would I do once they dismissed me into the world that had little or nothing to offer? It was I that left my parents, with their approval, to find my fortune in Canada, and I did find a far greater fortune when I stumbled into God’s arms (Psalms 27:10).
After a thorough inventory analysis, I found nothing that was of any use. I was like a baby. I had to learn to walk, talk, think and fend for myself. I was in a country that did not speak German, Polish or Russian. These people spoke English. I was in pain and called for pillows instead of pain pills. If it had not been for my special nurse; these people did bring in pillows. Human ingenuity is at its best when it is comical; only I, the victim could not laugh. There were experts that came to assist me in taking a look at my inventory, but shrugged their shoulders and left me with more misery. Only one gentleman, a minister, had a nugget of hope and threw it my way. I was, at the time, in desperate need of some glimmer of hope. This man’s suggestion made me fear and tremble. In retrospect, to that time in my life, it was summed up in these words, “Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Jesus’ invitation was not, nor is it some magical formula, to a carefree life handed down from heaven. The system that was in place did not accept Him or gave Him a job; yet, He created a system that gave me peace of mind, a job and eternal security. Those that were placed in charge of His system did not hand me an easy certificate and send me out to an available position. It took me nine years to earn it and helped me rebuild my life. In learning how to help others, carry their yokes and burdens, mine became lighter. It was when I went about trying to bring hope to others that I became oblivious to actually assisting Christ in carrying His yoke and burden. By delivering others, not just from sin; but also from fear and uncertainties, I was delivering myself. It became a challenge for succeeding. Someone penned these words for me:
“Tackle more than you can do – Then do it!
Bite off more than you can chew – Then chew it!
Hitch your wagon to a star,
Keep your seat, and there you are!”
“Don’t try to think why you can’t. Think how you can” (Doan p.46).
During my time of reconstruction, I was acquiring a new inventory. My shelves were being filled with new products and so were my clients. The change was as if I had moved to another country. I was still in the world, but no longer of the world. At least that was what I led myself to believe. I was leading a secure life, within a system, that was being protected by the redemptive work of Christ. We were catering to each other and welcomed new comers with open arms. We took it for granted that we were doing God’s will by belonging to an organization that was basically religious. But the spirit cannot function without the body; and the body has a tendency to drag along things from the world. In the process, the spirit yielded to the needs and pleasures of the body. We became redeemed sinners saved by grace and not by works. What distinguishes us from the world is mere faith in Christ. Physically and materially we can outdo the world. We are a reminder of the Church in Ephesus that had lost her first love – the love for a clean and holy life in Christ. It had lost the power to influence the world, and there was no longer any need for another Church like it (Rev. 2:1-7). This was the Church Paul had started and spent two years building it up (Ac. 19:1-10). And it was to this Church that he wrote, “You were saved by grace and not of works” for the purpose to do good works (Eph. 2:8-10).
I firmly believe that we are at a point, in our religious life, when a serious inventory of what we have stored and are selling is long overdue. It should disturb us immensely when people confess Christ and even become baptized and then disappear into the world or when the divorce rate is higher among Christians than among unbelievers. They have been handed a bill of grace that guarantees their entrance into God’s kingdom. Friend, be warned for grace is not a gift; but a reward for being and not just for becoming a disciple of Jesus. A disciple is a life-long student and follower of Jesus. Disciples do not neglect to attend worship services (Hebrews 10:25). They do not continue living in sin and trample on grace (Romans 6:1-4; Hebrews 10:26-31). The man that was so very fond of what grace could do learned the hard way how prone humans were to abuse grace. He pleaded, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). The writer to the Hebrews had a similar problem with his people missing out on the reason why grace was being granted. It is not surprising that we hear little about this writer’s idea about grace. It was similar to lip service or faith without works. He wrote, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:14-15). What did Jesus expect His followers to be like? “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).