Wednesday, March 5, 2008

My dad's speech

Many times as I was growing up, my dad had a certain speech he pulled out with me and my sisters. It went something like this: "I don't care if you grow up to be a ditch-digger. But you must be all-out for Christ. If you're half-hearted, you'll only feel guilty and miserable. But if you give yourself to him wholly, your life will be rich and full."

At the time, my unspoken response too often was "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Typical." But he was right. Wonderfully right.

"These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11). Leon Morris, in his commentary on John, pages 673-674, writes concerning this verse, "It is no cheerless barren existence that Jesus plans for his people. But the joy of which he speaks comes only as they are wholehearted in their obedience to his commands. To be halfhearted is to get the worst of both worlds. . . . The Christian life is not some shallow, insipid following of a traditional pattern. It is a life characterized by 'unexhausted (and inexhaustible) power for fresh creation.'"

I just had lunch with a brother in his 80s. His off-the-cuff comment as we walked out of the restaurant: "God has given me a happy heart." He did not say this with any sense of "And this is true in spite of the crosses I am so heroically bearing," though he faces the challenges we all share, plus some. He said it with a bubbly lightness of spirit that was fully credible. It is Christ living through his wholehearted faith.

Thanks, dad. Thanks, Leonard. Count me in!