I want you to stop whatever you’re doing right now (except for reading this blog) and take a moment to think about a time when you could have done something but chose not to do it. I’m talking about something you felt drawn to do – maybe even called to do – but you ended up not doing it because something or someone got in your way. Maybe it was something as simple as touching base with an old friend you’d lost touch with for a while, or something more involved like pursuing a graduate degree or a professional designation. Or maybe there was someone you wanted to thank for something they’d done for you years ago, only to find, when you finally got around to sending your thanks, that the person had passed away.
I’m old enough to have accumulated quite a collection of these regrets. Chronic spiritual ulcers, they are. They’re different from mourning, which stays with you all your life but as a scar rather than an active sore. Regret for something you could have done but didn’t do is a festering wound that never heals.
Now imagine being called by God and putting off answering him. Imagine coming up with excuse after excuse after excuse after excuse as to why you don’t want to answer him or can’t answer him right now. Imagine being told that time will soon be up to answer him, but still delaying your response.
And now imagine the crushing weight of regret you’ll feel when it’s too late to answer him. And imagine feeling that horror not just for the rest of your life, but for all eternity.
When Jesus called his disciples, they immediately dropped everything to follow him. Dropping everything meant they left their wives, their children, their jobs, their homes, all their possessions – everything – from one second to the next. They didn’t even take a bug-out bag with them. All they had were the clothes on their backs, and off they went with Jesus.
I am constantly amazed by people who know of God but never want to go any further than that, never want to get to know God one-on-one: never want to be reborn. They think going through the motions at a church service is enough, giving charitable donations a few times a year is enough, having a Bible in the house (though never reading it) is enough, and that hurriedly mumbling some scripted words every now and then suffices for prayer. Or they’ve become “spiritual” and concede that there is more to serving God than just showing up in a church building, but they stop short of genuine repentance and never do actually believe the Gospel.
They want to be religious, but not too religious.
I can’t get into the mindset of these people because I went from 0 to 100 – from atheist to Jesus freak – in a matter of milliseconds. Being a Jesus freak is a reality that I cannot deny. It is who I am and who I have been for the past 22 years. So when I see people who are obviously being called acting as if it’s no big deal and that they’ll think about it and get back to God when they have time, I want to scream at them. I want to reach out and grab them by the shirt and slap them hard across the face, the way men in early Hollywood movies used to slap hysterical women to knock some sense into them.
If you feel you’re being called by God and you’re delaying answering him for one reason or another, you need some sense knocked into you. So put your face closer to the screen and let me slap you.
A little closer.
There. Consider yourself slapped.
You do not want to delay answering God’s call. If you delay answering it until it’s too late, you’ll not only hysterically and forever regret it, but you’ll have missed out on the only thing that matters in this world and in the one to come. Nothing else matters – not your kids, your job, your mortgage, your spouse, your pension, your investments, your belongings – nothing else matters but saying “yes” to God and following Jesus.
There is no life outside that. You may think there is, but there isn’t. You may think you have all the time you need to decide whether or not to say “yes” to God, but you don’t have as much time as you think you do. The expiry on God’s offer comes like a thief in the night (that is, when you’re asleep and least expect it). He gives you fair warning, but when time’s up, it’s up.
If God’s calling you, you need to answer him now, and you need to answer with a “yes”. Just a simple “yes”. And God will take it from there.