Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Love the Lord

Author Kathleen Norris tells the story of a friend named Willie who had fallen in with a drug dealer in Wyoming and dreamed up a scheme to make some really big bucks. Willie thought that things were working out just fine -- making good contacts, setting up a network -- but one day he and his colleague were cruising down the road when the drug-dealer saw a man traveling the opposite direction. "I need to kill him," said the dealer quite matter-of-factly, reaching for a gun that was stashed under the front seat.

"It was right then I decided to get out," said Willie, badly shaken. "This was over my head." And that, concludes Kathleen Norris, is where salvation begins — in the sudden awareness that a particular path is leading to death, in the naming of something as "wrong," and in taking steps to turn away from it. And it is continued in the unexpected and astounding action of God to free people from whatever is holding them in bondage.

The way back to the right path -- the kingdom path -- always begins at the very same place: At the point where God in Christ reaches across miles and missteps and a multitude of messy mortal mistakes, at the point where Jesus wraps his arms around the shoulders of wayward, wandering souls and gently guides them back. Christ doesn't discard people because they're moving down an imperfect path. And he does not disqualify people who have made a mess of their lives before finding the right road

God is on a saint search, and it is not only perfect people who are going to be found. Sure, there may be some who are born with the natural ability to love the Lord with the totality of heart, soul, mind and strength, 24/7/365 -- but for most of us, this passion and power comes only after we discover that God has always loved us, and that his love precedes our own.

Fact is, most of us find the Lord only after we have been found by the Lord.

And all he asks is that we respond with that same level of passion ... loving him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength ... and showing a willingness to love our neighbors as ourselves.

If we do, we'll be God's holy ones, set apart for his service.