We make a fairly regular practice of asking people to express and commit to a “next step” at Suncrest. Some are more dramatic than others. Last Sunday, we asked people to lay things on an altar before God and walk away from them. Literally. And Figuratively.
I never know how people are going to respond. I knew lots of people walked up front…but there was almost a social pressure to do so. Were people really walking away from significant things in their lives that were getting in the way of God’s plan for them?
Then I opened this box of papers and started to leaf through them. What were people leaving on the altar…walking away from once and for all? I’ll give you a very small sampling:
-The guilt of my past
-Sex outside of marriage
-Control of my husband
-Vulgarity & Lust
-Compromising values when with friends and online
-Being a Gossiper & Cheater
-Being Thin Skinned and critical of others
-”Letting go of a huge sin. God knows. I know. I’m forgiven.”
-What others think of me
This matters. And I have had a front row seat to God making days like this defining in the stories of people’s lives. Can you imagine the impact of a service where people truly released all of these things? I can. Some lives changed drastically on Sunday. No going back. This week is fundamentally different than last week and this year will be fundamentally different than last year because of what happened Sunday. Some of you will set a new course for your life that will have impact on many people and even for generations to come. That’s genuinely amazing.
But some didn’t. You meant to. You were sincere Sunday morning. But then Sunday afternoon happened. And worse yet…Monday. Now it’s Thursday and you are pretty sure Sunday was just an quasi-emotional experience that won’t have any lasting impact. In fact, you wonder if anything will ever REALLY change.
Do you know how I know this? Because that’s what I did. And what I’ve done in other settings over many years. Then, I feel guilty for not being committed enough and I fight it. I think self-discipline will be my conquering force. Which is largely the problem. I’m still fighting when the whole idea was to RELEASE.
And then I give up. That is almost always when the REAL change occurs. When I give up the fight. When I acknowledge there are places in my life that I can’t seem to change…but are unacceptable to continue. And then get down on my knees and plead with God to take it. Once and for all. In a way only He can. With power I don’t have.
And THEN He takes it. Usually. (But that’s a conversation for another day.)
Time for you to give up…trying to change this yourself?