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JUGGLING APPLES

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Juggling_Apples_Blog

When I was a child there was a cartoon that would come on in the afternoons after school on the Family Channel that I loved.  I only got to watch it on Thursdays, because Thursdays were piano lesson days.  My house out in the country only had an antenna that got two, maybe three channels if the weather was right, but certainly no fun cable channels like the Family Channel.  But Thursdays were different, because Miss Margarete, my piano teacher, HAD CABLE!  And after my lesson I got to turn on the Family Channel and watch Duck Tales! I can still see the title sequence and hear the theme song in my mind.  The title sequence would end with Scrooge McDuck diving headfirst off of a diving board into his gigantic pool of gold coins and jewels.  Back then it always seemed funny and so unrealistic, but now I’ve come to see it as sad and all too true for humanity.

 

Jesus says quite bluntly in the Sermon on the Mount, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).  Whatever we treasure gets our heart’s attention.  Notice that Jesus is making a major assertion, we all have a treasure.  There is no “if you have” in His statement, only “where.” And wherever that treasure is, our heart is diving headfirst into it.  Which begs the question, where is our treasure?  

 

Well that can be a tricky question to answer.  We could all probably list what we should treasure. And in all likelihood, we will assume the best of ourselves and pat ourselves on the back for treasuring the right things.  But a time audit might reveal something quite different.  If I ask my daily schedule “what is getting all of my heart’s attention” what would my schedule reveal?  What do I spend my free time diving headfirst into?  

 

One of the biggest lies I tell myself when it comes to spending time with God in scripture and prayer and truly seeking His presence is that I don’t have time, I’m too busy, or I’ll do that when my schedule slows down.  Am I busy?  Yes.  But even busy people have treasures.  And often our busyness reveals much about what that treasure truly is.  Sports.  Hobbies.  Television.  Because truthfully, we will make time for that which we value most.  It is not that these activities are inherently evil, it’s just that they make poor treasures.  They cannot produce true, heartfelt peace, and life.  

 

Satan’s tactic has long been to distract God’s people from God’s goodness with lesser things.  We regularly fall for the same old trap of forsaking Eden for an apple.  Listen to the cry of the prophet Isaiah: Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me;  listen, that you may live. (Isaiah 55:2-3).   I’m convinced that one day I’ll stand before God and be so amazed at His beauty, goodness, and peace.  I’ll be filled with life to its fullest.  I’ll be intoxicated with the joy of God, dancing in His presence and alive in His powerful love.  I can’t wait for that day. But we have been given the Holy Spirit so that we might experience some of that today!

 

I believe one of the great tasks of the Christian life is learning to reverse the decisions of Adam and Eve.  We must forsake the apple for Eden.  We must come to recognize what is truly desirable and worth being treasured.  When Jesus teaches us to Seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33), He is inviting us to dive headfirst into the Treasure of Heaven - God Himself.  He is inviting us to know the King personally, to behold His beauty, and to be filled with His joy, peace, and life.  Jonathan Edwards wrote, “The seeking of the Kingdom of God is the chief business of the Christian life.”  Christ has opened the door for us to know God.

 

So here is my goal for you and me in writing this article: to make time spent with God each day our treasured possession.  When I was a kid growing up in church I often heard adults talking about reading your Bible and praying.  It felt like a major chore that Christians were supposed to do, like eating your broccoli or going to bed at a decent hour or picking up your room.  To be honest, I never in a million years could have fathomed that connecting with God through scripture and prayer would become the highlight of my day.  But that was because I had yet to experience the joy of God’s presence.  “He who does not long to know more of Christ, knows nothing of Him yet” (Charles Spurgeon).  Truthfully, religious duty is a chore.  But time with Christ is a delight.  What I hadn’t come to realize in my early days in the church is that Christ is more than a subject like those I was learning in school, He is the Living God who gives life abundant and joy everlasting and peace surpassing.  And reading scripture wasn’t homework, it was a means to encounter Christ, the Living Word.  

 

So how do we reverse our apple picking ways?  We seek first the Kingdom of God.  We make Christ our treasure.  We pursue Him.  We seek Him.  We dive headfirst into Him.  And the one who forsook all to pursue and seek us will reward us with the “richest of fare” as we learn to take Him in.  If you’d like help in learning how to connect with God, then please reach out to me.  We’d love to help you grow in your pursuit of the King.  

 

Questions for further reflection and action:

  1. Read Luke 15.  Process what Christ is saying about the Kingdom’s desire to find the lost.  Think about the lengths Christ is willing to go to in pursuit of you.  How does such selfless, sacrificial, pursuing love make you feel?  
  2. What apples has Satan been tempting you with?  What have you allowed to become more primary than your relationship with God?  What distractions are there for you right now that keep pulling your mind and thoughts elsewhere?  What hobbies have become more important?  What responsibilities have become more pressing?  It’s important to at least identify the apples and know what they are.  It may be out of your hand at the moment to change your schedule, but that is ok.  If this season has found you extremely tired and worn out, then see your time with God as an invitation to come and find rest.  However, audit your time and be honest with yourself about your actual desire to connect with God.
  3. Is your relationship with God something that seems to bring you life and energy and perspective?  If not, why?  Dig down into that question.  Christ makes gigantic claims about the abundant, overflowing life He came to offer.  Why aren’t you experiencing it?  If you want help processing this question in your life, let me know.
  4. Pick a time and a place to make your sacred space, or as the Celtic Christians called it, your “thin place.”  That place where Heaven makes itself extremely real.  Right now, think about your home, work, drive to work, and daily schedule.  Where can you claim right now as your sacred space?  Be disciplined in entering the sacred space every day.  If you miss a day, that is fine, grace is good stuff.  But show up the next day and seek God.

 

It's hard to hold the hand of Christ when we are busy juggling apples.  



3 Comments

Blessed is the man ... who delights in the law of the Lord, and meditates on it day and night.... (Psalm 1:1,2,3)
Thank you, Shelton.
Lord, help us draw near to You daily and all the more as the troubles of this world scream for our attention. Grant us Your unshakable peace and Joy that can not be disturbed even in times of tribulation. Truly no one and nothing can change the facts of Your sacrificial love that Pursues us and Your Holy Spirit dwelling in us to give us Life to the FULL and unshakable Joy that supersedes every situation and circumstance. May our desire be YOU!
Powerful story. Very thought provoking.

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