I am not asking for a theological answer. Tell me what you feel deep down in your heart.
Do you feel like you are "at home" with God? No, I don't mean that I want you to give me the "right" answer. You, know, I mean, what are you supposed to say? If you say "No," that will sound like you're not a "good" Christian, right. But, when I ask if you feel like you are at 'home' with God," I am not asking for a theological answer. I am asking you to tell me what you feel deep down in your heart. To express the truth of what you feel about this question of having a real relationship with God. I know what the Bible teaches, but the question is, what do I know for sure. No, I mean for sure, sure, not just that I accept what the Bible says. I do accept what the Bible says, but do I know it.
The first argument someone will make is, "You just accept things by faith, and that's it!" Faith? Faith in what and for what? When I gave my life to the Lord, I did not have a "come to Jesus" moment. I was lost, confused, angry, and I needed help. I could not find anywhere to go for help. I was desperate, so I turned to God. Yes, I admit it. To me, He was my last option. God was not my first choice. I needed help. I needed a "second chance." I wasn't even sure I totally believed in a God, but I so desperately needed Him to be real. I told Him that if He could change me, then He could have me. I mean, I knew that if God were able to change me that I would never be the same again. I wouldn't know what to do with myself anyway.
I remember saying, "God, if You tell me that Jesus died on the cross for me, I'll accept that. If You tell me that He took all my sins on the cross with Him, I'll accept that. And, if You tell me that all my sins are forgiven, I'll accept that too." I didn't know if any of that was true, but I needed help, and if that was the price, I would pay it. If He could change me, I was willing to pay the price of giving Him myself for the rest of my life. To this day, I have kept my word to the Lord.
I am a theologian; I have studied the Bible to learn how God wants me to live. I have gained much head-knowledge along the way as well. I can answer many questions and even some especially hard ones from and about the Scriptures. I can handle myself well enough in most debates, and I have led many persons to the Lord. I pray I can lead many more as well. I am knowledgeable enough of the life principles taught in the Bible that have helped me to counsel hundreds of persons for thousands of hours. I have written dozens of books, countless articles, taught thousands of Bible studies, and preached more sermons than I will ever be able to count.
Thirty-eight years later, I still have questions for which I cannot find answers. Partly, I believe, is the reason I have such a love affair with the Bible. I believe that in it, I am seeking something that I already have. If you can understand that last sentence, the futility of that claim, then maybe you may understand that, like Paul, I know I have not gotten "there" yet. I know that I lack so much and am desperately searching for it in the Word of God. Paul said it like this in Philippians 3:13-14 (NASB 2020) - "13 Brothers and sisters, I do not regard myself as having taken hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
There it is, a "reaching forward" and a "press on toward." Those two phrases are probably the closest I can get to a glimpse of that to which I cannot find an answer. There is a sense of getting there but not being there, a sense of longing of wanting to be there so much that you are not enjoying the ride getting there as much as you would like.
"Are we there yet?" These are the cries of children in the back seats of the car when the parents take them on long drives. They want to do more than just sit there; they want to play and have fun. We are also on a journey, and we are sitting in the back seat. God is the One driving the car and, though we have an idea of where we are going, we still want to know if we're "there yet." There is something about heaven that makes it so desirable to get there, but it's the way there that bothers us; death. But, if you are like Paul, and me, then you desperately long for home.
The apostle Paul understood the desperation of longing to go home. In Philippians 1:21-24 (NASB 2020), He spoke of this juxtaposition of the heart when it came to going or staying, "21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sakes."
Serving and ministering to others is, has an aspect to it that gives one a great sense of satisfaction, but what is this satisfaction? I have counseled many persons and couples who afterward turned back to their old ways and are living in a self-made misery because they will not give up the need to control. I would love to have before me a picture of all those successes who have changed, healed, grown, and stepped forward into a changed life in Jesus Christ. And, while I can say that there have been many, am I truly satisfied with that. Am I supposed to be satisfied with that? Am I not supposed to be satisfied in Christ, whatever that means.
What does it mean to be satisfied in Christ?
The dictionary defines satisfied as "contented; pleased." The word "pleased" is defined as "feeling or showing pleasure and satisfaction, especially at an event or a situation." The word content is defined as "willing to accept something; satisfied." So, according to these definitions, am I "pleased" ("showing pleasure"), and/or am I "contented" (willing to accept)? I can say that I believe I am "willing to accept," but do I "show pleasure?" Not always. So, I can assume then that I am not always satisfied in Christ. I am grateful. There is no question of the gratitude I have for the change the Lord has brought about in me. Just the thought of all He has done brings a swell of gratitude within me that also brings me to tears.
One can also feel a sense of accomplishment. But, what is it that we have or are to accomplish? I have seen more people turn away from God than I have seen turn to Him. But is that what I am supposed to "accomplish?" I cannot save anyone. God is the One who does the work, and I recognize that I am but His tool, regardless of how willing I am. Should I be trying to accomplish or just allow Him to accomplish through me? Does Philippians 4:13 say, "He can do all things through me by the strength He gives me" or that "I can?" Am I the worker, or is He the worker through me? My willingness to be used by God does not define or clarify the dichotomy of this conundrum.
But, one can also feel a sense of "not having got there." As Paul mentioned in Philippians 1:21-24, "I do not know which to choose," I still search my soul for this answer. I believe what the Bible teaches about heaven, and I want to go there; even right now, as I write these words, I want to go to the "very much better" place. Yet, I also want to be used by God to reach as many souls as He chooses to reach through me. To want to leave this "mud-hole of a planet," as I like to say, is not even a question. I have lived a long life. Much of it was complicated, but I have lived long. I have done much. I have even written a book about my life. Not just as some vain effort to glorify me (I don't deny it), but also as a valuable tool for my grandchildren and their offspring to know their grandpa. Nevertheless, the point is that I have done much and many and am ready for whatever the Lord has for me. But, I have not yet gotten there.
I am still searching. I am still looking for God. I am still looking for home. I am still longing for the place where I will be completely at peace, and not just spiritually. My body is tired and in pain. I hurt everywhere. I no longer find pleasure in this world as such. I have loved ones, of course, but I hope to see them again "up there." I am still "reaching forward to what lies ahead, pressing on toward the goal. I have not yet come to my resting point. I am like the children I mentioned above; I ask God, "Are we there yet?" No, I have not gotten "there" yet. I am not yet home.