Where Am I?

Galatians 2: 20

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.

This is a beautiful verse, one full of the grace of God and the sacrificial love of Christ. Yet, there was a day when the ideas expressed here challenged me. I wasn’t sure I wanted to die. Even though I pursued God relentlessly, there was a part of me that held back. There was a part of me who had reservations. What does it mean to die to self and live to Christ? What happens when we completely give our lives over to Christ so that the life we presently live is Christ in us?

When I was a young Christian I was on fire for Christ but I wasn’t sure what this meant. Maybe many of you have grown past this but perhaps there are just a few who can relate to the challenge I wrestled with. I wanted to be with Christ. I desired deep, meaningful fellowship with Jesus but I didn’t want to give up who I was. I wondered, “If I give myself to you wholly will I get lost? Where am I if I am in you? Am I afraid of losing my identity? Who will I be? Will I be me?” For all my faults, I liked who I was and I wasn’t sure I wanted to stop being me.

This may sound silly to you but I wondered if I would still get to do the worldly things that I enjoy doing such as kayaking and bike riding. I had some thoughts in the back of my mind that I could not be holy and enjoy these activities. Of course, you know the answer. Jesus loves kayaking and Father is an avid cyclist. We do those things together. In fact, many times I rather ride or kayak without other people because that is Dad time. When we all get to heaven, I fully intend to go kayaking with Jesus. I may do it every day. Who knows? They enjoy all those things. The Scriptures say that God “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6: 17). He isn’t trying to take these things away from us. He is the one who is supplying them. The meaning of a life in and with Christ is that we get to do all these things with the Father, the Son and the Spirit. These activities are actually more fun now than they were because I get to spend that time with some of my very best friends.

I am still me even though I have given myself to Christ. I am just becoming a better version of me. I am Ivey 2.0. The life of Christ is in me. It is coursing through my veins, suffusing my muscles. He is even in my breath. He isn’t taking away from my former life. He has given me new life, more life, and better life. I am dying to the brokenness of the world and being reborn daily by the renewal of my mind in Christ. He opens new doors in my heart, mind and spirit and with each one he breathes new and abundant life into me.

If you have ever been concerned about getting lost in Christ, I have only encouragement for you. There is no downside to letting your former self pass away because the reborn, renewed self is so much more fun to hang out with. If you truly die to self, you will arise with healing in your wings. Jesus will only move into the rooms of your heart which you allow though. You may have been a Christian for 40 years by now but there may still be areas of your heart that are verboten to God. My advice is: throw open the doors and invite Him in. It is all good.

Kayaking with God

Revelation 22: 1

Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

I was corresponding with a friend of mine last week when this image of the river took on new meaning. Many of you know that I love to kayak; rivers, lakes, the ocean, it doesn’t matter. I like it all. I will say, though, that it makes a great day to paddle down a deep water river. The very thought of it is making me yearn for my boat and a day off.

Last week I wrote in an email, “We need to be in that river just floating along. Dad has taken away our paddles so that we must trust Him for the thrust and steering.” That really spoke to me as I wrote it. I couldn’t get it through my fingertips fast enough. I could see me going down the river without my paddle. It gives a whole new meaning to “up the river without a paddle.” But even as I wrote it I had such a calm and reassured feeling. I mean, I like the effort and motion of paddling but I probably could enjoy riding along with Dad doing all the work too. The feeling that washed over me was very pleasant. There was not even a moment’s hesitation like things are going to go bad for me if I don’t have my paddle.

So obviously this is a metaphor for life. The Holy Spirit is the river and we are supposed to allow him to direct our path which is analogous to steering with the paddle. What if we just floated along going wherever he takes us? Most of us are challenged in this area. Sometimes we paddle so hard that we can’t even perceive the nudging in another direction. The other problem that I have is that God gives me a direction and a paddle and I start paddling really hard trying to accomplish everything in my strength. That is why He doesn’t tell me too much at a time. I think I am serving Him with my effort but that is not what He is asking us for. He wants everything we do to be a partnership endeavor. He isn’t intending to give you tasks which you are to complete in your own strength. You are in the same boat together and He just tells you where you are going. You don’t have to panic when you come to a fork in the river. Just take your paddle out of the water and He will steer the right course.

We work too hard. I believe in hard work and our father most certainly does not applaud laziness. The problem is that we work hard but without Him and His grace. He wants us to get down the river but not by injuring ourselves. That is what the old me always did. He wants us to let the flow of the river, which is the Holy Spirit, propel us. He has not set us a course upstream so when we feel like we are paddling against the current it would serve us to stop and ask Dad if we are even headed on the right course. It is probably that we are working ourselves to death going wrong way. Neither do we have to paddle our boats faster than the Holy Spirit is leading. Even if you get to the right destination if you get there before the Holy Spirit it will do you no good.

Learn to work with the Spirit of God. The Father sent him to us to lead us and help us. We are not meant to accomplish anything in our own strength. Nor are we meant to plot our course on our own. Our Father knows the bends of the river and the best way to go. Let your effort be combined with His grace and direction and you will find that you arrive where you were meant to be and you will get there sooner and without being exhausted. 

Take a five minute mini-vacation right now. Close your eyes. Picture yourself and God together in a canoe or two person kayak going down a beautiful river. Imagine perfect weather with just the slightest breeze blowing across your face. Listen to the sounds of birds and frogs. Let your Father sit in the back and steer and enjoy the river of life.