I have been writing for the last ten years and every single piece I have written has been directed specifically to Christians and the Church. This is the first piece I have ever written to everyone else, outside of the Christian circle. I hope you will read it, take it to heart, and share it with everyone you know.
I have been seeing a lot of stuff lately that has been breaking my heart. There is so much negativity and anger, so many straining and broken relationships and marriages, so many frustrated people who are ready to give up, so much antipathy from person to person based upon politics, religion/non-religion, race, and class, and so many people giving themselves over to so many things that numb their pain.
I ache because life can be so much better than what you are settling for.
Despite the situation or circumstance you find yourself in, life can be so much more rich and holistic than you could ever imagine. But you have to understand this point- I am NOT talking about finding religion. That’s not the answer at all. The truth is that there are so many in religious systems whose lives and relationships are a complete wreck- whose lives are a parched desert land and whose relationships are broken and crumbling, despite their perfect attendance on Sunday’s, their singing of songs, their giving of money, and so on. Religion has never been the answer for inward transformation and relational healing and restoration.
What I am talking about is something so much more than religion. It is something not of ourselves, something beyond ourselves, that waters the dry and thirsty land, that brings the dead bones to life, that gives us eyes that can truly see and ears that can truly hear, and that awakens those who are living as sleepwalkers in this life.
There is a story I always point to that has the potential to open minds and change hearts. It is about a man who finds a treasure that had been hidden in a desolate field. In the midst of his searching he discovers these riches and then sells and gives up everything he has to buy the field and have all of the riches of this treasure.
This small story reveals an amazing paradox and a poignant truth-sometimes it takes giving up everything we have to receive the riches of the treasure.
And that truth is so profound and relevant because so many are searching and searching and searching for a better life, better relationships, a better way… but simply do not realize that there is actually something beyond ourselves that can give us this richness, purpose, value, and meaning and satisfy our every longing. But even more, these riches remain hidden from so many because we have been looking in all the wrong places with no riches to be found.
All I can honestly tell you is that you will continue to search endlessly, never finding the riches, never finding peace or contentment, never finding your ultimate fulfillment until you begin looking in the right place and then giving up everything to receive to receive this treasure.
You may be asking what exactly this treasure is. I will tell you, but to be honest, it can only truly be found by doing your own searching, your own asking, seeking, and knocking. These riches are not learned in a classroom, earned by religious affiliation or practice, or handed down from one person to another. These riches can only be found by the earnest seeker who has the eyes to see and the ears to hear. And that is why many of the religious in the churches have never found it for themselves, because they stopped or never started looking in the first place.
The truth is that no matter who you are, no matter where you came from, no matter what you have done in your life, no matter what people think of you, and no matter whether you believe you deserve it or not… the only place where you will discover the riches of unconditional love, the joy of living every moment, the peace that goes beyond all human understanding, the patience that flows from the depths your soul, the kindness that transcends every situation and circumstance, the gentleness that mends the broken-hearted, the self-control that leads to absolute freedom, the forgiveness that takes away all of your burdens, the mercy that grows your compassion and care for all of humankind, and the grace that extends regardless of merit … is beyond yourself. We simply do not have the ability to create that kind of life on our own. That kind of life, that kind of richness, can only be discovered in the Spirit of God. It is free for those who ask for it, seek to discover it, and knock so that the door will be open to it. It doesn’t involve anyone giving it to you or any institution making it official… it only involves you asking, seeking, and knocking to find these riches… and then having the willingness to lay it all down and receive.
The cynic may say, “So you are saying that apart from the Spirit of God no one can experience those riches (love, joy, peace, etc.)?” To which I would respond, “Whether we would like to admit it or not, each one of us was made in the very image of God and have the capacity to experience those things. However, because we have all been disconnected from the Source of the riches (and we all have), we are unable to fully and unconditionally experience love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Like a root to the branches, we bear this fruit in our lives when we are connected to the Source.”
And the reason I know this to be true is because I was the one disconnected from the Source of the riches. With my own effort I could be a quite a good guy. But my disconnect from the Source left me loving conditionally, hurting people with my words and actions, suffering from the stress of impatience, bound by the chains of anger, frustration, and resentment, and using people for my own gain. But again, I was a “good guy” by all subjective and objective measures, I just did not have the eyes to see how much richer and fuller life my life could be. I had convinced myself that I was “good,” but yet the wreckage and wasteland of my life and my relationships were glaringly obvious.
It was nine years ago, in the midst of my own searching, that I was confronted by the way, life, and teachings of Jesus (again, not religion) and found the treasure that had been buried in the field. I realized how far from the riches I had been. That’s when my eyes were opened. That’s when my heart was healed and changed. That’s when I gave up everything and bought the field and gained the riches. That is when my whole life changed. I am not a perfect man, far from it, but the Spirit of God changed me from the inside-out. And I can do nothing less than tell everyone I know about how good this life is… because I want each of you to experience it as well.
What is keeping you from receiving the riches for yourself?
If you want to chat, or if you have questions, or if you just need someone to pray for you… let me know.
Peace and love…