Sunday, April 06, 2008

What is Your Breaking Point?

If you know much about Christianity, and about Christians in particular, one thing that distinguishes Christians from others is their testimony. The testimony of a Christian is the story of how they came to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Unless it happened when the person was a small child, a testimony almost always involves a story of extreme pain, sorrow, horror, inadequacy, rejection...always something negative, always something intolerable. It is something that God uses to get the attention of someone whose heart He is seeking.
It seems that a lot of people think that God should get their attention by making some miracle happen in front of their eyes, or by performing some other trick. I don't know of anyone who has had God perform a trick or miracle in order to help them come to know Him. It's always a difficulty, instead; we don't seem to see our need for Him when everything's fine and good, but always when we're in trouble.
I remember knowing a woman who lived next door to us for a number of years. We lived in an old, quite low-income neighborhood--to the point where I remember Katie's friends' parents sometimes wouldn't allow their children to come visit, expressing that they were afraid of the neighborhood in which we lived. Our next-door neighbor was a single woman who had messed up her life more than anyone I had ever known. She rented the upstairs floor of that house. She was an extreme alcoholic, had used drugs to the point that she had self-inflicted mental illness and was receiving Social Security disability pay. It was frustrating to me that the government funds were used to rescue this woman from having to face up to the problems she had created in her own life. Because of her instability, in spite of government funding, she was often lacking basic items for her life. She would come over and ask for some toothpaste or toilet paper; in fact, she admitted that she went to different houses in order not to overwhelm any one person with her requests. I remember telling her the gospel when her foot was in a cast because she had fallen down the stairs in a drunken stupor. She had hit what I would consider the bottom of the barrel. It may not have been the most receptive time in her life, but it was hard to find what would be--she was so often drunk or in some way out of her mind--and to my knowledge she never really responded, never really understood that she needed God more than she needed a fifth of Vodka. Because of her various problems, the bottom of the barrel was indistinguishable from the top. What a shame--drugs and alcohol and government support had numbed her to the point where she would never be able to comprehend the ugliness of her life or the beautiful truth of God's love for her; she seemed incapable of being reached.
It made me realize that we all have different breaking points. Some of us only have to recognize the ugliness of the sin that goes on in our minds and hearts. Some have to be rejected by people that it seems should care about them. Some have to be hit by a physical disability or other thing that makes them realize they can't get through life by being self-reliant. Perhaps something has to be taken away that they have been relying on for meaning in their lives. Maybe you'll hardly have to have anything horrible happen, or maybe you'll almost be in the state my neighbor was in. God is creative and has a variety of ways to help men realize they need a great solution that is bigger than anything they can see. What is it for you? Have you come to your breaking point? What will God have to do to get your attention? At what point will you find the end of your rope?
I urge you, in light of God's mercy, turn to God today for salvation. He will forgive you, give you mercy and grace, guide and help you, and draw you out of the pit. You'll find that those are distinguishing marks of His, His way of dealing with people who are in trouble who turn to Him. It isn't hard. Just as He won't perform tricks to authenticate who He is, He won't require tricks or cleverness from you. All He wants you to do is acknowledge in prayer that you are a sinner in need of a Savior (this is not as shocking as it sounds, because ALL of us are in that same boat), and that you want Him to forgive your sins and make you clean. Then you will belong to Him and your life will change in some amazing ways, some immediate and some over time. (He may not take away all your problems, but He will equip you and help you and give you new ways of thinking and doing things, and give you hope like you've never had before.) You will never want to go back to where you are now, and you'll wonder why you ever waited so long as you did to turn to Him.
Psalm 50:15 "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me."

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