No Reason to Wait

“Come today there’s no reason to wait. Jesus is calling.”

The other day I did something I often do as I drive the 17 miles between home and the kids’ school. I cried.

And, as usual, the tears were provoked by a song I was hearing on the radio. These tear ducts of mine are much too strong-willed and independent for my comfort. I can’t control them during worship. And that’s what I’m often doing in the car as I listen to Christian radio. (At least I’m alone there … the spontaneous weeping during church is a lot harder to hide!)

Here’s how this one went down: I heard the lyrics, which provoked a memory, which caused an immediate fit of weeping. The song that day was Elevation Worship’s “O Come to the Altar”:

I’ve heard this song countless times over the last few months, but a certain line of it fairly yelled at me this time. I assume God wanted me to think through that particular thought. In context, here it is, with the specific line bolded:

O come to the altar
The Father’s arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ

Leave behind your regrets and mistakes
Come today there’s no reason to wait
Jesus is calling
Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy
From the ashes a new life is born
Jesus is calling.

 “There’s no reason to wait.” It reminds me of 2 Corinthians 6:2, “… now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” As I listened that day, it also reminded me of a line from a school assignment that I have carefully stored for 34 years. In it, I was responding to a poem about Jesus, saying—in a rare moment of vulnerability—that it confused me and I didn’t want to think about it (thank you very much). I would think about it… later. To which my teacher replied, “You need to answer them now! It may be too late if you wait…”
Bless Mrs. Carter for her perseverance in the life of a stubborn, proud, scared kid.
She was right. Jesus is too important to put off. He’s done the hard work, proven his love for you and me. He invites us to himself. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
“Come today, there’s no reason to wait.”
What are you waiting on? Do you feel unworthy? He said that he came to call not the righteous but sinners (Matt 9:13). He offers forgiveness, renewal, new life, a washing clean. When we accept his gift of love and forgiveness, we are what the Bible calls “in Christ.” And, “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Cor 5:17).
Tempted to wallow in your past? What there is worthy of clinging to except a false security in what is familiar? Usually that’s shame or guilt or pride, none of which will survive your lifespan. Turn from your past, let the light of peace and truth shine into your heart and know that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1).
“Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy, from the ashes a new life is born. Jesus is calling.”
Don’t wait. If you share your salvation story with me, chances are I’ll shed a few tears of joy in your honor.

Ancient Sources, Timeless Insights

As the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses approaches, Bible Study Magazine has devoted a special issue to the impact of the Reformation on how we study the Bible today. Below is the “Moment with God” devotional I contributed to the issue.

AS MY BOYS HAVE REACHED THEIR TEEN YEARS, THEY SEEM INCREASINGLY SURPRISED TO HEAR THAT THEIR FATHER AND I KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT THE WORLD.

Dating? Yeah, we’ve been there. Jobs? We’ve had a few of those. Driving? Since before you were born. The boys seem to be humoring me when I offer insight into how girls think. (Hello, I’m a girl.)

Nor will they willingly ask their father—a math teacher—for help with 7th grade algebra. They aren’t trying to be rude, but it seems that older people’s experiences don’t count as much as their peers’ do.

Too often, we can take a similar attitude when studying the Bible. We have thousands of resources available to us, written and produced by people of all nationalities, denominations, and knowledge levels. But most of the ones we consult—especially online—tend to come from contemporary authors. When was the last time you sought out a commentary or sermon published before you were born? Or before the printing press was invented?

Do the church fathers and theologians of history have anything to offer us today? These men and women lived many centuries closer than we do to Jesus’ time on earth. Some of them, like Clement, knew the apostles, or, like Irenaeus and Tertullian, lived within a hundred years of Christ. Jerome, John Chrysostom, and Augustine led the way in the Patristic era. Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, and Catherine of Siena were abbesses and mystics before Martin Luther and John Calvin spearheaded the Reformation. George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, and Dwight Moody revitalized the church through their preaching in more recent centuries.

These people proclaimed God’s word to their contemporaries, often at risk to their own lives. Their thoughts remain relevant today because they followed a living God and taught a timeless text, one in which God reveals truths applicable to all people of all times. Much like when we read Homer or Chaucer in a literature class, we need repeated interactions with ancient writings in order to become familiar with their style and language. But the investment is worth it. With a little extra effort, we can uncover the rich insights of men and women who loved Jesus passionately in their times and places. And their prose—with its archaic but beautiful sound—gives us a fresh perspective.

From Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening, the June 7 devotion on Psalm 97:10: 

If you truly love your Saviour, and would honour him, then “hate evil.” We know of no cure for the love of evil in a Christian like abundant intercourse with the Lord Jesus. Dwell much with him, and it is impossible for you to be at peace with sin.

“Dwell much with him.” The more time we spend in the word and in prayer, meditating on God’s truth and his person, the less enamored we become with the world’s priorities and self-centeredness. Encouragement from 1866 that applies directly to 2017.

To be fair, I can remember rolling my eyes at some of my parents’ wisdom during my teen years. I know my kids’ attitudes will pass as well, and my husband and I will become smarter (in their eyes) the older they get. Hopefully I—and you—will remember the same about yesterday’s theologians.

 

Combining history and the Bible is the sweet spot! Find the original of my devotional here. Reprinted with permission from Bible Study Magazine. Copyright 2017.