When we brought our daughters home, we tried to think ahead as much as possible. Prior to bringing them to church, M and I discussed how certain things would go. Who knows why some things come to your mind, while others never enter into discussion until they present themselves in the course of our days and then we must decide ‘what to do now?’ One of those things we considered prior-to was whether or not we would have the girls join in communion. We’d let our boys participate as soon as they were able. But like many things, upon reflection, we realized we simply did so because “everybody” seemed to. We didn’t have quite the understanding of it as we came to later on – like a good many things. So we decided that in order to be clear about what communion is, we would hold on allowing the girls to take it until the day when they understood it and had accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. We were a bit taken aback when those in our small church dedicated the sacrament of communion to our girls that first Sunday we brought them with us. It was a dear act meant in love, and we allowed them to join in, of course. However, since that time we have not.
Such a decision leads to so many other considerations and clarifications for us to redefine and crystallize what we understand these things to mean to us. Salvation became one of those items - when and how does this come about exactly? We needed to be able to put it in a very clear way for our girls so that they could best grasp what goes on in a person’s life with respect to Jesus. The way I came to explain it is that it is an exchange. Jesus has given His life for me, and when I came to this realization, in gratitude and love I responded by accepting that gift of sacrifice; in turn I gave him my little life to change, transform, and use as He wills from that day foreward.
This morning I considered this question – how much do we want of Jesus? I was always an introspective child, and I knew from early on and for many years that I had two particular battles that needed to be fought regarding Jesus. The first’s focus was, just who was He? Was I really going to buy into the claims made about Him? Could I truly believe with all my heart? ‘Cause I knew, of course, that He would know if I were faking it. The second came to this issue, how much was I willing to give Him? This duo played King of the Mountain in my heart and mind for years.
At times trust and doubt vied for supremacy when it came to the matter of faith; many other moments were spent wrestling with the fact that I knew I just wasn’t ready to cash in my ALL. There was simply too much I still wanted to do without someone else meddling with it by giving me any confining boundaries of which I should not pass. I knew Jesus had plenty of those waiting for me, and I also knew full well I wasn’t ready to submit to them – or Him either.
As often seems to have to happen, life-shaking crisis came into my life. I did not turn to the Lord with uncertain hope. In all my muddlings, I knew that it was me who was having to do the sorting and figuring out of things. God was not confused. He knew exactly who He was. I turned to Him and asked for the filling in of faith where my swiss cheese belief fell short, trusting that He could and would do it – and He did. The first battle was over and done. The Ruler of Creation loved me and took me in, and I was all amazement and thanks giving.
The remaining challenge, how much of myself I brought to this exchange, was less clearly decided. I can honestly say I thought I gave everything to Him that day. But as one day rolled into another, it became clear that I was amazingly deceitful. Little bits of this and that were tucked away here and there, and I would find a snatch of the Old Me now and then. Years of intimacy had established a nonchalance among my sins so that they’d just stroll on up and swing an arm over my shoulders like an old boyfriend, giving me a familiar squeeze and a wink. However, with my life given over to the rule of my King now, I found He would not so easily allow ‘gluttony, lust, gossip, spitefulness, etc.’ (you know the gang), to play with me and my life anymore. “Who is this?” he would ask with all the fullness of His love and truth. Sometimes I tried to avoid His gaze, but eventually our eyes would lock, and one way or another my sin would be sent on his way post-haste.
Ultimately, it can be no other way in The Great Exchange. With the passing years there have been a mounting number of times that my Savior has had to respond to the unannounced arrival of the unwelcome, uninvited, and unwanted imposters that try to lay claim to my heart, mind, and character. With each skirmish, more of this little life is brought out in humbling fiery sacrifice. Changed, transformed, and used. What I didn’t know before The Exchange was this. All that I held onto in comfort and self-gratifying love that I now lay before him and see go up in flames, it is never what is best, or for my good, or of any lasting value. And what He does with those sacrifices is beyond what I could ever do or create or experience on my own. This is real living.
I pray for a day of The Great Exchange in my girls’ lives. But for those of us who have already had that momentous day, I just have to ask, “So, how much of Jesus do you really want?” I think it’s a good question to greet the moment with, don’t you?