The Nine Year Switch
“Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given."- John 1:16
2017 is going to be a BIG YEAR! This is not just a "pie in the sky" type of wish or a blind faith statement that has no substance. There are several things that have my sights set on the goodness of God and my spiritual antennas focusing on what is to come. This year there are several celebrations and open doors that will make the next ten months truly special: In June, Joanie and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary; in August, we will have completed ten years of being senior pastors in Thousand Oaks; and sometime in April, our church family will be moving to our new home! When it comes to all these things I like to say that God has been "abundantly good" and each of these blessings are "crazy awesome"! This next season is marked by a grace and hope that can be trusted on and built upon. As the author in Hebrews 11:1 declares, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the assurance about what we do not see."
In all these celebrations, there is something much more valuable than reaching a milestone or receiving a material blessing. With each new chapter and with new mercies for each day, I am discovering at a greater level the nature of God, the promise of God, and the will of God. As we seek His face, as we walk in obedience, as we hunger for Him, and as we humble ourselves God reveals Himself in undeniable ways and releases His fullness in our lives. Here is what the Apostle Paul says is his ultimate desire in Philippians 3:10-11, "I want to know Christ- yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." Let me share a funny story that illustrates this idea of knowing Jesus at a greater dimension.
We have lived in our home in Newbury Park for nine years now. In the kitchen is a sliding glass door to the backyard. To the right of this door is a light switch that turns on the backyard floodlight. The kids have often gone out back to play on the trampoline or toss the football around and used the floodlight to extend their games after sunset. The problem is that this switch is linked to a timer and only keeps the floodlight on for a minute at a time. There is also a set of three light switches to the left of the sink. Yet, in these nine years we have only used two of them. The right switch is for a light in the kitchen and the left switch is for the garbage disposal. For all these years the middle switch has been left unused because nothing happens when you flip it on...that is until about a month ago! One evening I was doing the dishes and decided to give the middle switch one more try. Not only did the floodlight in the backyard turn on, but the "aha" light bulb in my brain lit up. The middle switch turned out to be a second switch for the floodlight, not on a timer, that kept it permanently on. I realized in that moment we must have only tried that light switch during the day, so I was unable to see the floodlight turn on. For nine years we have missed what was always available to us.
I wonder if that is how we are with Jesus at times? That our faith is operating out of a right side light switch power which is limited, where the Holy Spirit is wanting us to try the left side light switch so that His love and will are revealed more clearly. I believe that one of the things the Lord would want to speak to our hearts and direct our steps in, is that no matter how long you have walked with Him, the last 12 months or the last three decades, there is more that He wants us to understand, experience, and believe in. Let's remember that the disciples struggled with many things when it came to the things Jesus spoke even though they walked with Him every day for three plus years! Walking in this truth and living in His light does not happen without the work of the Holy Spirit. In John 16:13 Jesus said, "But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth...He will speak what He hears and He will tell you what is to come." God's heart for us is that we would operate by faith, be filled with the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:13-16), and not be conformed to the former ways of our flesh and the patterns of this world. In the same way I have lived in my house for nine years, only to recently discover a feature that has always been available to me, God is calling us to go deeper and see clearer.
No matter the number of years you have walked with Him, 2017 promises to be amazing because God is ready to do something new in your midst! There is more for us to understand when we read the Bible; there is more for us to experience in fellowship with other believers; there is more for us to unlock of His promise and purpose for our lives; there is more for us to overcome which will lead to true liberty and victory. Remember that Jesus' entrance into the world brought a faith, love, and life illumination that was meant to last forever! John 1:9 declares of Jesus, "The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world."