“See then that you walk carefully, not as fools, but as wise men, making the most of the time because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-17).
For years, like many others, I have been a “stuck” Christian. Although no one I know has ever referred to me as the “prodigal son” since I supposedly gave my life to Jesus in 1989, it’s been what I would call a pretty unproductive 26 years since in terms of service to God.
No, I haven’t ventured out into the world and squandered a huge inheritance like the young man in Luke 15. Nor have I lived in the moment, so to speak, to continually and unabashedly satisfy my own selfish desires.
One definition of the Greek word “astos,” translated prodigal, is “reckless and shamefully immoral.” But another is “wasteful.” I plead not guilty to the first two charges, but throw myself on the mercy of God’s court concerning the latter.
It’s not that I have been living a life of extravagant sin. I’ve been taking care of my family. We’ve been going to church. I’ve been serving the Lord in my job at Charisma Media.
Sin, however, is something of which you can repent. You cannot retrieve the past or turn back the hands of time.
In my eyes, I’ve been doing something far worse than committing extravagant sins. I have NOT been serving the Lord diligently and will all of my heart. I’ve simply squandered precious hours–even days and years–being lazy and selfish. I’ve paid more attention to my favorite sports teams than I have my Lord and savior. I’ve devoted myself to other pursuits rather than give God everything I have.
And because we have a jealous God, that’s simply unacceptable. Rick Warren once said, “God wants all of you. He doesn’t want 10 percent of you, He doesn’t want 50 percent of you, He doesn’t want 99 percent of you–He wants all of you.” Romans 6:13 says, ”Give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. And use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God.”
To quote C.S. Lewis, “The only thing Christianity cannot be is moderately important.”
Like the church in Laodicea, I was lukewarm. And what did Jesus say he would do with those types of Christians? “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of My mouth.” (Rev. 3:16, MEV).
I don’t know about you, but I don’t even want to picture Jesus figuratively “spitting” me out of his mouth. When I’m standing before him on Judgment Day, I do not want to hear the words, “I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice evil.” (Matt. 7:23, MEV).
The past few months have seen a radical transformation for me. The Holy Spirit has prompted me to read more scripture. I’ve been praying more. I’ve been writing this blog in hopes of impacting others for Christ. I’ve been boldly doing my job “as unto the Lord” more fervently than before.
I’m telling you, Satan has really hated this new found diligence of mine. In the past, he has thrown many different kinds of distractions my way; but it comes down to this. I’ve made up my mind to heed daily to James 4:7 which says, “Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
Since submitting to God completely, I’ve found myself–as someone who has been moderately unhappy (self-imposed) and has kept those he loves from being as happy as they could be–enjoying life more than ever before. In other words, I have been freed from the quagmire. I’m no longer stuck.
Even in trials and tribulations–as James 1 says that we as believers will have in this life–I’ve found myself more at peace with the world. That’s saying something for me and my Type-A personality.
And to think of all that time I wasted. All I had to do was submit and surrender to God.
I know what some of you are saying. It’s not all that easy. You don’t know what I’m going through.
Maybe not, but I do know this: You are not going to get unstuck from the mediocre life that you’re wallowing in by staying status quo. The Lord can and will do for you what he’s done for me and with me.
James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (MEV). As Warren so eloquently puts it, “There is not a single verse in the Bible, not one, that says you can be a Christian and live your life any old way you want to.”
Please, don’t waste precious time as I have wallowing in the mire.
Isn’t it time you surrendered all to God? Isn’t it time you “stepped out of the boat?” Isn’t it time you got “unstuck?”
And, as I always like to say, “there is that.”
Shawn A. Akers is the online managing editor at Charisma Media.