As a child, did you ever have unreasonable fears? Did you just know that there was a bogeyman hiding in your closet? My personal childhood terror was the alligators under my bed. I knew perfectly well they weren’t there, but that didn’t stop me from being very, very careful never to allow any body part to dangle over the edge. And when I had to get out of bed during the night, I made a flying leap, so that I could land far enough from the bed to be safe. It didn’t matter how many times I told myself the creatures weren’t there and that this was really stupid. My logical mind simply didn’t have control over my fear. The thing that I knew to be truth did not overcome my fantastic imaginings.
As I was reading a friend’s post this evening, I decided that this is a lot like what happens with some Christians. The post asked if a person could be saved but not converted. And I honestly think it happens all the time. I think we can repent, turn from our sins, and receive salvation without ever experiencing Holy Spirit power in our lives.
Our pastor has likened it to receiving a gift, but never unwrapping it. If we have access to that power, but choose instead to live by our own strength, without opening up and allowing God’s Spirit to completely fill us, we are only operating on the very lowest level of Christianity. You can say, “Yes, I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord,” and you can repeat it over and over, knowing perfectly well that it is true, but if you don’t hand your life over to God to manage, then you are still lying on the bed trembling because of an imaginary bogeyman. If you can’t trust fully that God is infinitely loving and supremely able to care for you and guide you, then you aren’t using His gift. When you keep the reins in your own hands, you have left the gift lying on the table, still wrapped. You may manage to present a smooth exterior and glib speech, so that the people around you are convinced of your conversion, and perhaps you almost convince yourself, but inside you will not be living in peace. The Truth will not give you complete freedom.
If we only believe that God IS, we are no better off than the demons. If we believe that God IS and we acknowledge our dependence on Him, asking His mercy, He gives it. But in order to experience His incredible power in our lives, we must first find ourselves desperate–we must realize that without Him we are nothing, and our only hope is to yield all control to Him.
If you’re anything like me, you may sometimes find yourself trying to rewrap the gift. It’s a decision I have to make, moment by moment, to USE this incredible gift I’ve been given, rather than trying to get by with my own deeply inferior gifts. It’s a foolish thing, but my own imagination occasionally carries me away, and I leave the gift, forgotten, on the table. And when I begin to feel those unreasonable fears, or the doubts that simply don’t make sense, I need to go back and carefully unwrap that gift of truth once more, and USE it. Because without it, I can never experience the passion and fulfillment and rest of abiding in Christ.
Unwrap the Truth. Absorb it into your very being. Immerse yourself in it. And it will make you free indeed.