There is nothing like hanging out with brand new life in the Vine. This past couple of weeks, I have found it to be invigorating... but also very, very challenging to my own spiritual journey.
Three weeks ago new life was birthed in Rick--age 40-something--married, successful in the world, two kids, lots of toys... but something missing in his life.
He was sitting in a restaurant with my friend, Dave, when the conversation turned to spiritual things. In Rick's own words: "Within one minute of that conversation starting, the other 10 people we were sitting with got up and left the restaurant. People who were sitting around us at other tables seemed to disappear. We were left alone for a solid hour while I made the decision to place my full trust in Christ."
It was a divine appointment set up by the Holy Spirit to reach into Rick's heart.
Rick admitted that, over the years, his intellectual arguments kept God at arms length. He would talk to God in passing but placed no confidence in Him. For many reasons, this was the right time, the right place, the right person and Rick made one of those head long dives into a new life trust.
For the past two weeks he has been sitting in one of our church gatherings talking about all of the changes taking place in his life: "The job and toys never satisfied. Once you achieved or got something it became empty because you wanted something else or something better. I always knew something was missing, but I didn't know my heart could be changed like this. I look at my wife now and I see her differently. My heart is alive. I look at my life and I can't believe the way I see God working through everything." He has one of those looks on his face that says, "I can't even put it into words... I just want to explode with the joy of what's happening in me."
It just happened to be Rick's birthday last week so we asked him one of our typical questions: "What are your hopes for the coming year?"
He said, "Oh, this is going to be my best year ever. I just feel like there is this great big bread basket [of spiritual treasures] that I get to feast on."
All of us who sat in the room with Rick were stirred up as we remembered the new life that God has brought each of us into. It often takes hanging out with that new life to remind us of the glory of our own new life.
But his last statement really challenged us. He is so excited and so looking forward to all that God has for him in the coming year. As we listened to him share, many of us actually felt envy. "Wouldn't it be awesome to be looking forward to all those new treasures that God opens up to the newly birthed." Then we thought, wait a minute... God is not finished with any of us. Don't we all have new life, new treasures, new transformations, new measures of faith to look forward to if our expectations are in the right place? Why do we put a lid on our Christian lives?
I am challenged to take Rick's eyes and look at my own life through them. Yes, I have been through a lot: beaten down, built back up, trials, testings, failures, redemptions, hurts, healings, disappointments, restorations, deaths, and resurrections... enough to fill books. But that does not mean I have even began to walk in what God has for me in the coming year. It's so easy to think-- been there, done that. I have experienced God through thick and thin, I am a veteran! In so doing, perhaps we put a ceiling on what God has next for us. The truth is, for each of us, He is only just begun. I want to put on Rick's new eyes, and say, "God, I can't wait for what you will reveal to me that I don't know, show me that I haven't seen, impart to me that I haven't received. I can't wait to unwrap the spiritual treasures that you long to pour out into my life in the coming year."
I want to walk in new life alongside my new friend, Rick.