A mile wide and an inch deep

s platte riverArtemus Ward, an early American humorist, once described the South Platte River in northeast Colorado as “a mile wide and an inch deep”. It would be a considerable river, he mused, if it were turned on its side.

It seems many Americans who believe themselves Christians could be described with the same phrase. Although surveys consistently show that 80-85% of Americans consider themselves to be Christians, surveys by the Barna Group reveal 54% of people surveyed agreed that if a person is generally good, or does enough good things for others during their life, they will earn a place in heaven. Yet God clearly tells us “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works.” 41% believe that when Jesus lived on earth He committed sins even though the Bible teaches, “He committed no sin”.

Jesus invites us to a deeper journey. It is a harrowing journey, however, that requires each traveler to give up control and follow. Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” The first followers “left everything”. We give control to Jesus, not to clean up our mess alone, but to transform the very essence of who we are. Our sin sick soul becomes whole in His healing hands.

When the goal of each day is to speak what God leads us to speak and do what the Father leads us to do every moment, it puts our clay selves into the Potter’s hands to work out the flaws and mold us completely into the person He created us to be. That, my friends, brings peace and deep satisfaction.

As we journey deeper in the Christian pilgrimage, we come to realize the Christian life is more than merely replicating particular spiritual disciplines or practices. They are means of grace, but not the Giver or blessing itself. Robert Mulholland reminds all that Christian religion is not primarily a belonging system, but a transformational system. It is not merely about belief. The inner experience is the genesis of spiritual life and the beginning of a transforming journey through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Is your journey energized by the desire to get something for yourself spiritually or is your journey energized by the desire to abandon yourself to God?           He gifts us for ministry, service in the name of the Lord. He gives gifts of evangelism, mercy, healing, helps, and prophecy among others. As we remain in Him and He in us we become His hands, feet, and voice to bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to the captives, new sight to the blind, setting the downtrodden free and announcing the Lord’s year of favor.

Henri Nouwen wrote “We have fallen into the temptation of separating ministry from spirituality, service from prayer.” Busyness is an excuse not a reason. Martin Luther prayed four hours each day, “not despite his busy life but because only so could he accomplish his gigantic labors,” said Elton Trueblood. The amount of time is secondary. The desire to relinquish control to Jesus trusting in His love and ability to accomplish His plans through us in spite of our flaws is primary.

The key is not to know much about nothing. It is to set the heart on nothing but Jesus.

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