I am slowly but surely (key word being slowly) beginning to piece some things together… I think. Remember a while back when I told you how I felt like reality was suddenly screaming in my face it’s pervasive and overwhelming presence? And remember how well I didn’t deal with it? “Life” has become clear in that I now see and recognize all the things and all the places in which God and His glory do not reside– areas in which the fruits of His nature and attributes of His character are not abiding.
My initial reaction was fear and trembling, literally. I fought and wrestled with anxiety I have not known before. And while, to a certain degree, that reaction might have been warranted, it was not the proper response.
The only response to such realities is a greater fervency– fervency in prayer, fervency in surrender, fervency in worship. And all of these examples were displayed in Christ and His life on earth as mortal man.
He was fervent in prayer because He understood and felt the weight of humanity. He bore the sin of every person for all time. He faced every trial, temptation, and test that we would ever know and conquered it, in His human flesh by His divine power. And what do we read about Him more than any other one attribute or trait? “He went away and prayed.” Read any gospel you choose and you will find it there– Jesus’ unwavering devotion and committment to prayer.
Perhaps the most beautiful and, simultaneously, excruciating scene in the Bible is not the cross, but the pleading of Christ in the Garden. Sweating drops of blood, praying with great fear and trembling, physically exhausted, emotionally and spiritually distraught and His response… prayer. Fervent, desperate, authentic, and utterly humble prayer. Cries, sobs and groaning for another way, a different route. A last minute pleading for any other form of salvation… and the answer was no.
Jesus’ fervent prayers resulted in fervent surrender– an obedient and willing availability to sacrifice self for the sake of God’s name and glory; to fulfill prophecy, to save a nation and to redeem creation itself. His surrender serves as an example of what our lives are meant to look like. If what caused Him to pray ceaselessly, the salvation of souls, and thus prepared Him to willingly surrender Himself as a propitiation for all sin, then we must, we must, realize that if we are to look like Him we will need to surrender as He did.
Oswald Chambers said it this way: “We have to realize that the identification of Jesus with sin means a radical change of all of our sympathies and interests.” If we are identified with Christ in the weight and gravity of sin, then our response must not be fear or even apathy, but action. Our motives, desires, priorities, relationships, time, etc must be revolutionized; we must be transformed by the renewal of our minds. Such renewal breads the final response…
What other proper response can there be to Christ’s sacrifice for sin and provision of redemption than endless worship? Were we not made, intended, and instilled with the desire to worship? I would argue that, even for those who do not believe in God, all humans, every soul, desires to make ultimate something to which they can trust and hope is bigger and better than they are. Every person wants to know that there is something more powerful than they are that is orchestrating and ordaining every breath that they take; to know that they have purpose and the ability to fulfill that purpose.
For the believer, we know Whose we are; we know for what we were made. And if we understand the need for surrender, so that the weight of sin that so easily entangles is loosed, we will unabashedly worship. We know no other way of loving Christ.
Two things must happen (in my humble estimation) for such fervency to come about: (1.) We must understand how desperately we need redemption, and (2.) We must catch even a glimpse of God’s glory to understand that He is the only giver of redemption.
We must first understand and realize the depth of our depravity; the breadth of our sinful nature. And we must be disconcerted and discomforted by it. If we are not moved for change and transformation from the inside out, then we will not be compelled to pray as we ought.
Once we understand who we are without Christ’s intervention, we can then more completely surrender our old selves and accept who and what He has beckoned us to become– we will be called by a new name and clothed in robes of righteousness and garments of salvation as it says in Isaiah 61:10 “I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.”
Reality demands fervency.