When Hope was small, her favorite phrase was “in my little world.” We heard it mostly when she didn’t get her way or when punishment for a poor choice was coming. Knowing she was beat, but hoping for the best, she’d put on her cute-pie face and use her most feminine voice–these things aren’t taught, but intuitive, you know!
“But Mommy (or Daddy, most often Daddy because men aren’t born with the gift and are often unaware that it’s being used against them…something else girls know intuitively, btw), in MY little world, you CAN eat ice cream for dinner!”
“In MY little world, kids don’t HAVE to clean up their own messes!”
“In MY little world, PARENTS do what the KIDS say!”
“In MY little world, little girls don’t GET spankin’s!”
Sometimes she’d pour on the sugar, pulling Rapunzel-length auburn tresses over one shoulder and looking coy, making her hazel eyes big and fluttering those ridiculously long eyelashes of hers, or grinning her most irresistible full-lipped, toothy grin. Depending on how much she had riding on our response, she’d sometimes do all three, and—Heaven help—she was truly difficult to refuse.
Ultimately, her best efforts never changed the outcome—at least, I don’t think they did…you’d have to ask her daddy to be sure—because rules are rules for reasons she couldn’t possibly comprehend at her age or from her perspective. Deep down, I think she knew it, but, being the free-spirited little human being that she was at that age, still dared to hope she could change things.
And don’t we do the same?
Christians and non-Christians alike, we’re a pretty stubborn bunch, aren’t we? Surrounded by evidence that God not only exists, but holds everything together, we still dare to hope, as evidenced by our actions, that we can somehow, by sheer will, power of persuasion, or imagined personal merit, change what is.
Sure, it might be nice to believe that Jesus’ coming to die on the cross and rise again was all about us, our comfort, our peace, and our eternal security, but it wasn’t. God loves us, yes. God sent His Son Jesus to pay the price for our sin so that we could be permanently adopted as His sons and daughters and enjoy intimate fellowship with Him on earth and forever in Heaven, yes, but He didn’t do it just to make us feel good, happy, or even safe. Ultimately, God gave His only Son to ransom a traitor race to the praise of His own glory, to reveal His character so that all Creation would worship Him for it. We are not the center of His universe; He is, and rightly so.
It might be nice to believe that we can hold Jesus at arm’s length with no consequence to ourselves, but we can’t. Salvation is a free gift in that we could never pay the price required to redeem ourselves, but God does require complete surrender from those who would accept His gift. To become a Christian is to die to self, to sin, to selfishness, and the pursuit of your own glory. It is to make God’s purposes your own and relinquish control of every aspect of your life to Christ. It is to become a brand new creation from the inside out, allowing God to bring the outside into submission over time through the power of the Holy Spirit and finish what He started. If you aren’t doing this, you aren’t a Christian, and if you don’t surrender before you die, you will spend eternity separated from God in hell. God doesn’t want to be separated from you, but, being just as holy as He is loving, He cannot be around sin, which is why He sent Jesus to wipe your sin away. The choice is yours. Be rescued or don’t, but understand that you cannot be a Christian and continue to live for yourself.
It might be nice to believe that we have all the time in the world to decide what to do with Jesus, but we don’t. Sooner or later, each of us will stand before God. Odds are, that day will come sooner than we expect or desire. When it comes, the opportunity for decision will be past, and we will either find that we have chosen wisely and traded in this breath of a life on something infinitely better and lasting or find that we have made a grave mistake and face an eternity of pain and regret. Each day we live is evidence of God’s grace toward those who haven’t yet surrendered, one more opportunity for Christians to reach out and speak up, one more chance for non-Christians to be rescued.
Yes, it might be nice to make the rules and write our own story—although I feel pretty sure we Christians couldn’t dream up a better ending for ourselves if we tried, all things considered—but we don’t. God alone, the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Creator of the universe, the King of all kings, decides what is and what isn’t. He calls the shots. He makes the rules, which is only right considering the fact that it’s His big world, not ours.