Thursday, December 1, 2016
Let God Love You
Lloyd Ogilvie, former Senate Chaplain and pastor of the Hollywood Presbyterian Church, often said on Sundays and through television rebroadcasts of worship and whenever counseling people who resisted God’s graces as well as writing about His inclusive offer in books that actually sold, “Let God love you!”
It was Lloyd’s way of saying God offers His best to everyone; and everyone has the choice to receive or reject that confident living in the assurance of heavenly eternal life after inevitably limited existence in time.
All we have to do to let God love us is invite Him into our hearts and then follow Jesus by the book to get closer and closer and closer to Him and experience more and more and more of His graces.
It’s a simple axiom: holier = happier.
Sadly, as evidenced in our chaotic, cranky, contentious, and divided world, too many people do not take Him up on His offer; or as the Kingston Trio sang, “The world is festering with unhappy souls.”
Danny comes to mind.
His mom was our clerk of session, dad was a trustee, and sister was active in Sunday School and youth group.
Danny came home after being away for a few years from only God knows where and asked if he could live with his parents and sister again.
They agreed under one condition.
He had to meet with me.
People who do what I do know what that means.
“You’ve got an hour or so to save our child or else!”
I had already been doing what I do for about five years and already knew nobody saves anybody unless she or he is cooperating with the movement of God’s Holy Spirit in their lives in the name of Jesus.
Again, it’s a choice at His invitation.
If we receive Him into our hearts by grace through faith in Jesus, we start to live happily ever after.
If not, not.
Or as I often say to people who have not and continue to resist Him, “You can continue to live without Jesus and live without hope and certainty and strong calm sanity in the assurance of paradise immediately after your last breath. It’s your choice.”
So Danny came to my study as required; and he protested before I could offer a cup of coffee or glass of water to him, “I’m only here because my mom and dad say I have to meet with you or I can’t stay at home; but I’m not interested in anything you have to say and I really don’t want to hear any of that Jesus freak stuff.”
“Fine,” I said, “I’m working on my dissertation anyway. So why don’t you just sit here for an hour or so? I’ll do my thing and then I’ll call mom and dad after you leave to say you came to see me. I think that should do it.”
Even as a young pastor, I knew trying to be rational with the irrational is illogical; and it’s not worth talking to people who don’t want to listen.
I got it from Jesus who told us to click our heels, shake off the dust, and move on if people aren’t interested in hearing what we have to say about Him.
Or as somebody once said that seems to have been proven true over time, “You can lead a horse to water buuuuuuuttttttt…
After a few minutes that must have seemed like hours to him, he said, “Well, aren’t you going to say anything to me?”
“No,” I said as I turned the page of some book by Barth that wasn’t registering, “because you said you’re not interested in Jesus and, really, that’s the only thing that people who do what I do really have to offer. We’re not really called to do anything else. Yeah, we’ll play some softball every now and then or stage a talent show or throw a potluck or be the official prayer at something or other; but the only thing that we’re really supposed to do is help people to get to know Jesus because only Jesus can save people…like you…Danny.”
After a few more minutes that must have seemed like hours to him, he said, “O.K., look, I’m here. So you may as well give your spiel to me. Give it a shot, padre.”
Though I was still new to the gig, I’d also learned that when people give an opening, it’s time to go for it.
We talked about Jesus.
Remembering something picked up from that great saint Ron Rand, I opened the Bible to 1 Peter 5:6-11, passed the book to him, and told him to replace the pronouns with his name.
Hey, why not try it now.?
Read aloud 1 Peter 5:6-11 and say your name when a _____ appears:
“If _____will humble her/himself under the mighty hand of God, in His good time, He will lift _____ up. Let Him have all _____’s worries and cares; for He is always thinking about _____ and watching everything that concerns_____.
Trust the Lord; and remember that other Christians all around the world are going through these sufferings too.
After_____has suffered a little while, our God, who is full of kindness through Christ, will give _____His eternal glory. He personally will come and pick _____up, and set_____firmly in place, and make_____stronger than ever.
To Him be all power over all things, forever and ever. Amen.”
I always do when I do that.
So did Danny.
“And now,” as Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story…”
Getting back to Lloyd, he always asks when we get together, “Are you more in love with Jesus today than the last time I saw you?”
Well, after giving his life to Jesus, inviting Him into his heart as Lord and Savior, Danny worshipped and read the Bible and didn’t miss any opportunity to get closer to Jesus. He fell more and more and more in love with Jesus and loved more and more and more like Jesus and felt the love of Jesus in his life in increasingly extraordinary, calming, comforting, and compelling ways like never before.
Within a year or so, it was clear to me that he was called to youth ministry.
We hired him at His compelling and our youth group went from less than a half dozen to several dozens with a Friday coffee house with live music and refreshments that drew an average of 75 to 100 every week.
Danny’s story isn’t unique.
It happens all the time.
He happens all the time; if, as Lloyd always urges, we let God love us.
Keep that mind whenever you meet someone who’s not doing well and seems miserable and isn’t doing much heaven good with anyone anywhere around them.
All she or he needs is Jesus.
So when the opening comes, go for it!
Blessings and Love!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!
Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!