When I was 14 a guy named Billy Beecham came and preached to our youth group at the First Baptist Church. It was probably the most unforgettable sermon I’ve ever heard. The Holy Spirit was so obviously present. I still remember one of the songs we sang during worship and how desperately my heart cried out to God. I wanted as much of God as I could get.
Then Billy Beecham stood up and preached the best news I’d ever heard. He said, “You can have as much of God as you want!” I grabbed hold of those words and ran with it. I didn’t have to be left waiting in the outer courts longing for nearness with the object of my passion. I could enter into the Holy of Holies. I had no idea how many battles it would require and I didn’t care. I wanted Him and I realized He wanted me even more. I determined then that nothing would get in my way!
I wasn’t exactly considered to be a “well rounded” kid. I decided there were a lot of things I could pursue but that would take time away from my one real passion, Jesus. There were a lot of things I could have done differently had I been more mature, but I don’t regret one minute that I spent seeking God. I don’t wish I went to more parties or more football games. Maybe I was a little odd, but no on ever did anything great by making following the crowd her goal.
So here I am decades later and I still want more and more of God. I know I can have more but I also know the responsibility is on me. Jesus already did His part. Now I have to decide how badly I really want this intimacy with God that I long for and how much I’m willing to sacrifice to get it. Dividing time between spouses, kids and work takes more discernment than just not going to a football game. We could easily rationalize or “guilt” ourselves out of time with God and miss everything He has for us. It reminds me of the old Keith Green song that says, “I pledge my head, I pledge my wife. I pledge my son to Heaven for the gospel.”
The bottom line is this: nothing is more important than seeking God. The other thing Billy said that I’ll never forget was, “Get usable and God will wear you out!” The more of Jesus and the less of ourselves in our lives the more he can use us. One of my friends used to teasingly call me a monk because I was so content to just seek God, but the reality is when we seek Him, he sends us out. The only way to “get usable” is to spend a lot of time with the Lord, die to ourselves and be filled with Him. That’s it. It’s not easy, but it’s simple.
I never want to lose the edge of that passionate 14 year old kid. Nothing really matters but Him. Nothing.