Posted by: John Adams | July 3, 2010

Letting the Quarters Drop

The other day, I submitted my academic petition to switch from the Master’s of Divinity program here at Asbury to the shorter Master of Arts in Biblical Studies. This change means that I will be out of seminary by summer next year. I am both excited about the change and nervous about the transition to what lies beyond. I know that whatever happens, however, that God will be with me. I am so excited about continuing to pursue Him and His will for my life. There is such a peace that comes from knowing that He has His hand upon me and that whatever happens, I am His.

I have not always felt this way. I spent much of my teenage years feeling estranged from God due to sin in my life. I spent five years in Portland trying to work some of those things out, trying to find out who I was and what God wanted me to do with my life. There were so many times I nearly dropped out of Bible college or went to study something else. In retrospect, I am really glad that I didn’t make the change. Looking back, I can see the lead of love in my life, bringing me to repentance, instilling confidence in me, humbling me, bearing with me through all the petulance, anger, failure, sin, indecision, and angst. God has been far better to me than I deserve. I continue to marvel at the fact that He laid His hand upon me and continued to be determined to use me even when I didn’t deserve it.

Over the last few days, I feel like I have moved from one spiritual place to another. I was a believer before, to be sure, and I knew and loved the Lord, but lately things have just been…better. It is like something clicked into place and I feel stronger, more alive, more in tune with God than before. I think that this is how the Christian life works…you mature out of the stage that you are in and God just graduates you into more joy, more faith, different tasks that He wants you to accomplish, and more grace with which to perform them.

In any case, I have felt different lately. I listened to a Francis Chan sermon recently on being filled with the Spirit — on allowing the presence of God to so pervade our hearts that thanksgiving is just constantly flowing out of us like a river. I am trying to put that into practice, thanking God for every moment I am alive and for His many blessings in my life. I want to have a song constantly playing in my heart and I want the way that I interact with people to flow out of that internal melody.

There was a time in my life when I thought that following God meant losing out on what was really fun in life. Following Jesus meant no drinking, no premarital sex, no setting my own course in life. What I am coming to learn, however, is that when the Gospel really clicks — when you realize that your sins really are forgiven, when the Holy Spirit fills your heart with love, when you catch a vision for the Kingdom of God and begin to desire that with all your heart — the one thing that is in no short supply is joy! God is a hedonist and He invites us to take our fill of joy in Him. I think the reason that so many Christians are unhappy is that they live their lives like Coke machines in which the quarters haven’t yet dropped. If they would get into the Bible and glimpse the wonder of the Gospel, the quarters would drop and they would experience a Copernican revolution in their thinking. They would finally be able to raise their hands in worship, glimpsing the edge of God’s coattails as they sing their lungs out to the Lord.

I was watching Toy Story 3 the other day, and it hit me that the Gospel can be told from that movie. The toys have a misunderstanding at the beginning of the film that makes them think that their owner no longer wants them and does not care about them. They crawl into a box marked for the daycare, thinking that they will end up getting played with — their heart’s desire — by those other kids. When they arrive, however, they quickly find out that daycare toys are not cherished. They are treated roughly and soon desire to go home, but they are prevented from doing so by some evil toys who have grown hard hearts. The last part of the movie is their attempt to escape the daycare and make their way back home.

What struck me was that the toys were loved during the entirety of the film, but they didn’t realize it. At the end of the film, they are finally reconciled to their owner and get played with — really played with! — for the first time in years. They get their heart’s desire right where they had originally left to seek joy. I think that so often we think either that God is not really concerned with our joy, or that God will not take us back since we have sinned, and we are dead wrong on both accounts. Like the Prodigal Son making his way sheepishly home reciting mea culpas, we understand our guilt perfectly while not understanding God at all. The Prodigal Son found an exuberant father wanting to party! What kind of God do you think that you will find when you get home?

Dear reader, if you’re in need of someone to shake you until the quarters finally drop, may this post be the one that finally pushes you over the edge into joy. I assure you: God is going to be so thrilled to see you finally come home!

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Responses

  1. way to spoil Toy Story 3 for me, John…i was gonna watch it…operative word: “was”…j/k 🙂 …bro thanks for posting ur thoughts/insights…strangely, i find myself tracking with u in ur blogs by and large according to what’s going on in my life too…kinda cool…love u a lot, bro 🙂


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