Are You Dead and Alive?
One of my favorite things about spring is watching plants transform from a dormant stage to brilliance and becoming full of life! Every year around this time, I’m reminded of a specific experience I had in my home state of Texas one spring day. First, you may want to know that spring in West Texas isn’t exactly what we see here in North Carolina. Forget what I said about brilliant colors and think more along the lines of various tans, neutrals and browns. Oh, and lots of consistent high winds with blowing dirt storms.
One spring day, it was unusually calm outside, so I went to a park where I could go on a jog. As I was turning the corner, I stopped dead in my tracks because I came across something quite puzzling. I was looking at one of the largest trees I’d ever seen in my life, only it didn’t look like a normal tree. It was vibrant, bright and beautiful, but only half of the tree was green. That’s right, half of the tree was as green and as full as you can imagine, but the other half was completely dead, brown, and lifeless.
As I caught my breath and walked over to the tree to inspect it, I kept wondering to myself – is there a parasite on this tree? Or is it not getting enough water? How could such a large tree look to be dead and alive at the same time?
That’s when God spoke. And He did so in a way that I’ll never forget. God showed me that my life was not dissimilar to the tree. In fact, I had only really decided to “give Him” part of me. I was only committing to Him the part of my life that felt comfortable, the part that wasn’t too much of an inconvenience, and the part that didn’t feel like a risk. Not unlike that tree, some of me did feel vibrant and full of life, but this was not the full and complete surrender to God like He designed. J.D. Greear states that the hardest way to live is the way most religious people do: not fully surrendered to Jesus. I came to realize that day that my life was only a fraction of what God designed it to be because I had not fully surrendered every part of me to Jesus.
In John chapters 14 and 15, Jesus is nearing the end of His life on earth. I tend to think that if I knew I was nearing the end of my life on earth, I would want to say the most important things at that moment. Here are a few excerpts of what He tells those closest to Him:
“Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me…” (verse 21).
“All who love me will do what I say…” (verse 23).
“Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers…” (verse 6).
Notice Jesus doesn’t use qualifiers like doing some of what He says or accepting and obeying at least part of His commands. Throughout this passage, Jesus makes it very clear that there is no half-way. There is no in-between. It’s either all-in or not in at all.
Not only does Jesus want everything from his followers, He deserves everything because He gave everything for us. He looked at me, in my sinful, wretched ways and said, “I love you” by giving His all for me on the cross.
Each and every day, I wake up thinking about my agenda and my wants and my “fraction” first. It is a daily decision and requires an intentional mindset to remember that my day, my preferences, my time, and my life are not my own. It is, and all should be, His. Psalm 1:3, referring to the fully surrendered follower says, “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does now wither.” Oh, how I want to be planted by that stream and always be fruitful! All-in Christ-followers then receive the gift of “peace of mind and heart…a peace the world cannot give” (John 14:27).
Is there part of you today that hasn’t fully surrendered to Christ? I would venture to guess that we all, if being honest, tend to hold certain things tightly. Do you need to make the intentional effort to remain in Christ with all your being?