I finished Rob Bell’s book. I’d like to offer a full review, but this post isn’t it.
However, he ends with a story of him at age 7, saying a prayer with his mother and father on his bed, asking Jesus into his heart. Perhaps Bell included the story to really throw off some Calvinists and cause them angst in figuring out Bell’s eternal future. But I think more likely he wanted to plant the seed that the occasions that many Christians celebrate so much – those “come to Jesus” moments – really are important in the life of faith, but perhaps not in the way we’ve believed them to be.
I think he would say those moments aren’t just the all-access rights to heaven. Those rights have been available since Calvary. But those decisions have the power to set us on a course in life that continually chooses to live in the grace and love of Jesus. Those prayers on beds of 7-year-olds, or on the beaches of Panama City during a tumultuous spring break trip, are tools that God uses to help us walk in The Way. Perhaps sometimes we get to thinking that the journey is too far, hard or rocky; but we can remember the decision we made to follow this Jesus and we continue to put one foot in front of the other.
But it doesn’t have to. I’m sure we can all name one person who made a grand decision of faith only to see the fire fizzle months later. It happens. What about those people? Well, the path is still open for them to choose; sometimes they might just have to mow through some weeds to find it again.
And then there are those who feel that the other decisions they’ve made equally define their lives. Bad choices. Hurt. Other loves and pursuits. Guilt and pain eat them up. But just as Bell’s 7-year-old bedtime decision had the power to move him in a direction toward God, these guilt-ridden decisions have the power to move people away from Him.
If you ask me (and you are, because you’re still reading), these decisions only have as much power to direct your future as you decide to give them. They may define your past, but that is the limit to their power. This, my friends is the beauty of grace and mercy. I’ve never really understood the concept until now, but what a beautiful thing. When people use descriptors for God’s power as “breaking free from bondage” I can see that it includes the ability to say, “Yes I did… but now I am….”
It seems that seeking the Kingdom of God is simply choosing to allow the moments of God’s light define you and the moments of darkness pass away.