(Alright guys, spare me this feminine version of "our response" for the feminine hearts of our dear ladies reading. :) For a masculine version, visit The Point, and/or read Wild At Heart by John Eldredge. This does not mean you have to stop reading! You are welcome to delve into the feminine heart; it's not as scary as you have been made to believe! You might be surprised at what you find, and discover you DO have what it takes to "go there.")
Ah, the proposal. There’s hardly a little girl, teen, or young woman who hasn’t dreamed of some knight and shining armor that will one day come for her rescue, and ask for her hand in marriage. We’ve witnessed it countless times in movies, on television, and in real life. The courageous, often young man (but not always!), postures himself to honor the love of his life, and to ask, “Will you marry me?” He hopes, along with the hushed crowd holding its breath, all anxiously awaiting the response!
So God, with all His strength and honor, who has poured out everything for love, has come as our Great Rescue, and has promised us the “happily ever after…” So He and all of heaven await our response.
Sadly and painfully, not everyone will live the “happily ever after.” Know this, my friends: it is NOT because God doesn’t want some of us to be there. He gave His all to rescue us from the Kingdom of Darkness. He does not want to lose us!
Funny thing is, somewhere along the way, we’re not so sure we want to be rescued. We become so attached to our pain and our own adapted way of survival that we wear them like badges. Proud of how they’ve shaped us. That’s just the way I am! (I’ve said that one in my past.)
We’ve also become encapsulated by our “smaller stories,” no longer believing there is a larger story. Or even if we do believe, we choose to settle for the smaller one, I’m fine with this one, thank you. It’s like those old favorite t-shirts full of holes that you just can’t bring yourself to throw away, even though they are rags.
I must admit to you, I was a bit squeamish to write about the other possible ending to our story. The reason? Not because I’m afraid to speak the truth, but because far too many have abused the concept of hell, wielding it like a sword of condemnation to force people into submission to God. It never works. And fear is not God’s motivator (2 Timothy 1:7). But that does not take away the fact that hell still exists.
It is vital that we first understand hell was NOT created for people, and certainly not the option God wants for us! Jesus makes it clear, Himself, in Matthew 25:41 that hell is prepared for the devil and his angels.
So who is God’s Kingdom created for? Consider this story Jesus told.
“God's kingdom” he said, “is like a king who threw a wedding banquet for his son. He sent out servants to call in all the invited guests. And they wouldn't come! He sent out another round of servants, instructing them to tell the guests, ‘Look, everything is on the table, the prime rib is ready for carving. Come to the feast!’ They only shrugged their shoulders and went off, one to weed his garden, another to work in his shop.” (Matthew 22:2-5, The Message)
The Kingdom of God is reserved for His most intimate allies, true followers, the friends of God.
Our problem is we often forget that it was us who betrayed God. Remember Part III of this series? (read it if you haven’t or if you’ve forgotten) We chose to listen to Satan’s lies and mistrust God’s heart toward us. We disobeyed His one and only command, and in doing so, set in motion a life of breaking His commands. (John Eldredge, Epic)
"Our culture has done us no greater injustice than training us to avoid taking responsibility for our own issues. In trying to relieve us of the whole concept of personal sin, our culture’s reordered values have cheated us of the right to repentance and sublime restoration. They have hijacked our healing. A clear heart and a clean path are still only one sincere confession away." (Beth Moore, So Long, Insecurity)
We must remember, God has given us a heart with the capacity to love…and the ability to choose. Free will. Love is only true when it is chosen, as we also learned in Part III of this series. (and please know, to ignore God is to choose)
God stands before us, offering us life or death, pleading that we choose life!!
“This day...I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life...” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)
For those who do choose the life He offers, our ending is the consummation of all things hoped for, longed for, and promised by Love, Himself. (see Part V, Love’s Promise) The Lover of our Soul is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
This fairytale is a true story. Our Knight in Shining Armor has come. He alone can save us in every way a person longs to be saved. And He awaits our response… Mine is a resounding “Yes! I choose You!” What is yours?