YO(How)LO(Will U Go)?

Have you noticed that YOLO–the newest variant of our youth-oriented-society’s anthem–does more to stand for nothing more than it does to stand for something?

By saying, “YOLO!” we are making an admission of how senseless we are willing to live. (“Yo, it’s cool, I was just looking for a high!”)

We are confessing that we have made a leave-of-sanity and we need no excuse to maintain this state. (“After all, what’s life about if it’s not for wasting! I don’t want anyone to tell me what my life is supposed to be–I can make it whatever feels good to me.”)

Think of the occasions in which YOLO–You Only Live Once– is used:

It is a reason for driving the car through the garage door because, if I don’t, how will I ever know what that feels like?

It is a frame of mind that compels me to not waste time doing what only normal people do when I can be seeking out exhilaration in the form of binge-drinking, stifling every moral inclination and undoing my potential for greatness by merely settling for being startlingly cool.

It’s the avoidance of committing ourselves to the pursuit of a significant life legacy that we might, instead, be in favor of an easily-earned stupidity award!

The wonder of YOLO’s popularity is that, as humans, we don’t find it hard to act out a tragic misuse of our lives. Sad to say, even all by ourselves we’ve got that mission down pat! What we really need is wisdom, to seek to have our desires transformed, until we set ourselves on only the purest forms of good.

If you’re backing away from your computer or iPhone/iTouch/iPad as you read this, hold on! I’m not against fun and I’m not trying to condemn the enjoyment of oneself. Those things are part of what we were designed to experience as humans–God wanted them to be a part of who we are and how we live our lives.

It’s just that, contrary to what most of us think of ourselves, we don’t really know how to play to the full or enjoy pleasure in a lasting way. We have a relentless obsession with happiness that is only skin deep, recognition that lasts almost as long as a wisp of cotton candy once put in our mouths and substances that enable our souls to know peace only to the extent that they can successfully diminish our senses.

If we really knew what God intended to forever belong to our souls, we wouldn’t give YOLO a second thought. Rather, our steadfast conviction would be that YLAL is the fullness of human delight and significance: You Lord Are Life.

COMMe on you, this is about UNITY!

Community among believers must be one of the greatest aspects of our inheritance in Christ! Yet, it is not one of the things that I find it easy to embrace; instead, I resist its integration in my life with all my might.

Being closer with the Body of Christ and letting fellowship create an intersection between other parts of the Body and my part is something I really struggle with. I wish I could be really close with Christ and not have to also care about that intimacy translating over to other people who have Christ within them.

I would like to be alone, set apart from the world and people in such a way that I don’t have to do relationships. It bothers me so much that this isn’t God’s way.

After all, I always thought it was safer and more fruitful to have a life limited to just “me and Jesus”. I didn’t know (as a conviction in my heart) that I wasn’t getting the whole Jesus-package, and He wasn’t getting the whole me-package, if we weren’t being connected through His other followers.

I don’t like integrating with His other followers. For one thing, they’re not enough like Him to make me feel comfortable. For another thing, they will discover that I’m not enough like Him to make them always feel delighted to be in my presence! That, forgive me, is scary business!

So what motivation can I have to move forward with something that assaults my natural instincts for survival and success? Well, certainly none of it can come from me! God, do You think You could help here, I pray, I’ve got nothing. Worse still, I’m not even sure I want to have motivation for this. I would much rather pretend it’s no big deal. But because You are persistently making it a big deal, I really can’t ignore it. So, do what You want to do with me here. I know that I will praise You in the end when I discover in new and incredible ways that Your desires are best for me. You will make me see that You alone are what is True and Beautiful and Eternal.

 

Assuming God needs a justification here…

So, you want something. We all do. Instead of asking what it is you want, let me ask why it is you want it. Strange question? The question one asks depends on the depth of information one is looking for.

If you’re struggling in the absence of what you want and finding it difficult to see what justification God could have for opposing in your desire, please read on.

Assuming God needs a justification for what He does with you and I, and assuming we could understand and accept it if He did, consider this.

All of our desires lead us to something else. They may seem complex and widely assorted, but they can boiled down to very simple and very few. (We aren’t as complicated as we think!) For example, one of “unanswered” prayers, for a while, was for God to remove from before me my obstacles to my goal for weight-loss. Simple sentence equals I wanted to be thin. And God didn’t seem to be giving it to me; truthfully, He wasn’t giving it to me. In fact, He even made it clear to me that He was not going to give my request to me–not like it was.

You see, some of our requests simply are not acceptable to God. We ask that we may spend what we receive on the foolish pursuit of our own pleasures, never considering what may bring God pleasure. James chapter 4, verse 3 convicts us saying, And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

It is not that God wants to keep things from us merely for their own sake, but for ours. We won’t want what we should, or as we should. The Bible says again and again such things as it is the Father’s desire to give us the kingdom (I don’t know that He could find us a bigger gift), but we are not willing to receive it. We are caught up in vain desires that put the flesh above the spirit. For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace: because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be: and they that are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:6-8)

God would deliver us from our death-ridden inclinations. He would turn us from reaching the destination we blindly chase: death and separation from Him. The final question is, are we willing to be worked with in this way; to have our desires regenerated; to become people who insist on having everything in us serve Christ that He lead us into more life with Him?

The Price of Intimacy

I told the Lord I wanted intimacy with Him — intimacy that far exceeded anything I would know with anyone beside Him. I wanted to know the depths of His love that may only be discovered when one puts her hand in God’s, giving Him permission to take her wherever He wants. I longed to experience Him in everyday life, and know more of what life really is — to grow and blossom according to influences that were more than what I could arrange on my own.

I told God that I wanted His best, and I was willing to take His way to get there; I just wanted Him, and to know by experience that He was more than enough for me — far better than any other thing. I saw my need to go beyond trusting God when I was sure everything He did made sense, and I could be an expert on His activities. I believed that love for Him needed to grow out of the sacrifice of what was most precious to me: I prayed that if it be in the loss of all things, I would be certain to have gained Christ.

The reality that we will face trials, temptations and various forms of torture, focused me on Him. I wanted all my struggles to count for something: If I be in pain let it be for Him; if I should wrestle with sin and evil and doing good, let it be a fight that brought me closer to my Savior, one that made my bitter tears sweet and my broken heart secure.

Let me see all I shall of grief and joy, but let it be at Your side. I do not want pleasure that steers me farther from you, when I have so much closer I need to get. May I not be deceived by joy that springs from wells that I have dug, unconscious of the well of never-ending joy waiting for me in You.

Prayers only He could answer, only He knows how. The reply has not come as I expected. I requested the reward without knowledge of the path to get there. I knew I wanted God, but I didn’t know how much competition all my other desires were creating, desires that would have to be diminished for Him to be increased. My heart is only so big, and natural laws here apply. He must take over all, and I must surrender shares of all the real estate that’s currently in my name. I want Him to rule, I must offer Him the kingdom that I would rather keep to myself. After all, what other kingdom could I offer Him? My neighbor’s does not offer the parts of me He requests.

Surrendering my life to God puts me in a position of needing Him more than I would ever need Him otherwise. Unable to control, but forced to face, my circumstances creates the greatest opportunity to recognize God that this life on earth can support.

God is at work where my strength and rights are challenged. He knows that I need Him more than I need permission to clutch His rivals to my chest. He requires a higher cost of fellowship because the riches to be found there are the fruit of a covenant that divorces me from every threat to the bond between us.

His love is strong, but can’t be fully known until allowed to grow — and as it does, to reshape my life. I do not need to understand this, or expect to steadfastly support it at all times, but to trust that the God Who weaves my heart in love with His, knows me, and counts all my needs as nothing less than tickets granted me to explore His love and mercies deep.