Did you do anything of value today, or perhaps I should say, did you accomplish anything of lasting value today, did you store up any treasures in heaven? The maturing Christian is in somewhat of a dilemma, as it were, he, as the rest of us must do, lives in two worlds a at the same time, just like the “average” believer. I mean this term in no derogatory way, the vast majority of those who profess Christ tend to keep both feet in the world, save for the Sunday morning service. Their lives generally revolve around the needs and cares of this world, the transitory and temporal, the things that will not last, take precedent over the spiritual. They have for the most part determined that the milk of the Word is all that they need. Occasionally a quick prayer before a meal, unless of course it’s in a restaurant, someone might notice, perhaps thinking for just a moment or two during the week about something the pastor said last Sunday, but for the most part they are fulfilling what they see as their personal obligation to the Lord in it’s most simplistic form.
Not so with the man that has been led by the Holy Spirit to develop a contemplative mind, the one who has been called out of the sheepfold to go a little further. Each day this individual is storing up treasures in heaven, (Matt. 6:20) and yet that is probably the furthest thing from his mind, he wears the five crowns that are spoken of in the Scriptures, but he checks them only rarely, making sure that they are prepared to hand back in humility to their rightful owner. He can find no good thing in himself whatsoever, yet those who know him best see him as a man being used by God, one within whom a part of the wisdom of the Lord rests, something he would contest.
This man has very little time for the passing things of the world, and although he gives thanks for them daily, they are of no real consequence to him. He has set his face like a flint to the Word and will of God, His precepts never leave his thoughts, he seeks His face constantly. Very rarely does this man start on the path of a contemplative mind of his own free will, in fact more often than not he resists it, it is not something that he has searched for, the continuance of life’s daily duties are enough, their pleasures last long enough until the next one comes along. But this man starts to see the voids, and in these areas between the pleasures of the world is where his mind begins to fixate, the filling of time, the empty spaces between the pleasures of accomplishments in the transitory.
Here is where our Lord calls him, when his thoughts are no longer on the past rewards of personal achievements and before the next challenge that he has set before himself arrives in his thoughts. The thoughts are altered from “What next” to “What now” by the Lord, calling one more out of the sheepfold for a greater purpose.
I believe that Moses was perhaps in this state of mind that day that he saw the burning bush and decided to “turn aside and see this great sight.” (Exo. 3:3) Forty years in the land of Midian our Lord gave him to come to this moment in his mind when he wondered “What now.” Tending the flocks was no longer enough, but he didn’t know what else there was, and these types of thoughts do not come to fruition overnight, in fact we are not even searching for the “What now” until the “What next” becomes unfulfilling, the transitory and the temporal in no matter what form they appear no longer appeals to us. Here is the turning point of many a believer’s life, here is the crossroads that forces this man to a decision, and it is a decision that every believer must make at some point in their life.
Far too many Christians take the path at this juncture with the sign that reads “The Same,” instead of the one that proclaims “Greater Service,” and though both of these paths converge at the gates of heaven, for only the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are upon either of them, the rewards are few if any and the treasures will be scant for those who take the path of the same. This route is bright and sunny, clear from debris and easily traveled, it is well known and contains no obstacles that cannot be clearly seen, it is a familiar path and poses no threat, the continuance of the same, the relative ease of the weaker brother in Christ.
Not so for the one that chooses the other path, the path of greater service, the path of the contemplative mind, for the one that has decided that there must be more, that as Peter, James and John were called more than once to go a little further with our Lord on more than one occasion, these also of that path have chosen to do so. This is the path of the contemplative mind, it is the mind that our Lord will not leave alone, ever, thoughts of Christ in every shape and form consume this mind. The path is rough and treacherous, there is always a storm brewing, the winds of change resound at every turn, and every turn takes him further from the known, from the easy walk with his Lord that he was accustomed to, and he relishes this. The cries of the old man (Rom. 6:6) within him are constant, yelling at him to turn back, return to the easy path, they both converge at the kingdom of heaven, there is no need to place our self into these constant burdens of the unknown, the fear of what the Lord may require of us.
But this man finds within himself a drive, a new found desire that he did not know existed, “To be filled with the knowledge of the will of God in all wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9) is no longer just another verse in the Scriptures, it speaks to him of the ultimate truth of the reason for his creation by our Lord, to know fully the will of God, to better be able to serve Him. All past achievements are forgotten, all accolades and trophies are cast aside as trash, the useless approvals of man for worldly deeds accomplished are counted as nothing, any future offers of happiness extended to him by the world are finally seen as what they are, fleeting and short lived, without merit and of no value.
He places no burdens on his Lord, save that of His continued presence in his life, he knows that he can come boldly to the throne of grace, yet in abject humility he waits to be called, for what more could he desire when he has Christ Himself. His path is true and sure for he would not have left the easy path unless he was called, and sure that the calling was from his Lord. Our Lord asks only one thing from him, everything. Everything that he owns, every thought that is in his mind, everything that he is and has ever desired to be, and Christ offers Himself as the reward.
This path is too much for most Christians, the worlds pull upon them is still too great, its demands have too great of a grip, self will not die, the battle against it is too difficult. Change is feared by them and this path of greater service demands much change. For the man on the path of greater service, those things in the Scriptures that were once seen as requests are no longer seen as such, they are known for the truth of what they are, commandments, directives given to a servant that are expected to be obeyed, no matter the consequences. His life is meant to be given in service to his Lord, and in service he will give it.
“For in much wisdom is much grief, and he that increase knowledge increases sorrow.” (Eccl. 1:18) The more the man who has chosen the path of greater service, the path of contemplation, is given wisdom by our Lord, the more he begins to see the folly and frivolous nature of the world. Grief and sorrow become his constant companions, for he begins to see the world as it is, enveloped in darkness, covered in sin, and realizes that far too many are on the broad path that leads to destruction. He begins to understand what our Lord meant when he said we are not to be part of it. “Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1st John 2:15)
He yearns constantly for the house not made with hands, (2nd Cor. 5:1) for that is where the true love of his soul is, he waits every single moment for the trump of God to sound that will call him home, he fears not death, for “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” are no longer words that he has just memorized, they have become the standard that he bears.
This man has given everything for he has been promised more that he can imagine in return, he is not walking on the path, he is running, fighting, standing and on his knees and he will not turn back. The contemplative man expects suffering, trials and tribulation, sorrow and pain, it becomes a part of his daily life, and he rejoices in them. He does not know the word “Why,” but he is more than familiar with the words “What now.”
This my brothers and sisters in Christ is what every single one of God’s children have been called to do, no exceptions, we are to leave the world and all of its trappings, we are to be willing and obedient servants of the Most High God, never questioning, always obeying, we owe Him who died for us no less. Until you learn to grab hold of Him and never let go, until your trust is willingly placed in Him no matter what the circumstances may be, you will remain inexperienced in your faith, you will be satisfied with what He has to offer, what He can do for you, instead of who He is.
“And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) Every believer in Christ has been given a plow, how much work you do with it has been left completely up to you, but remember this, you will only reap what you sow. Place everything that you are into the faithful and strong hands of our Lord, and just watch how much will grow, you will be beyond amazed.