Not too long ago I was at my parents’ home in the Atlanta area for a short visit. My family and I were on our way to the lake in the mountains of North Georgia for a Memorial Day respite, and my parents’ home is a good place to stop and break up the trip. It was a nice day; actually it was a hot day. I was looking forward to hitting the pool with Samuel and Anna and working on my tan…not really. Unbeknownst to me, dad had a project he wanted us to start. On the back portion of his yard, my dad had cleared and leveled a pretty large area for a “playground.” Apparently, Papa had purchased a playground that he was going to build for the grandkids and he wanted me to help him get started. I’m not sure what mental picture you formed in your mind when you read the word “playground,” but I can promise you it wasn’t what papa had purchased. When I saw the picture on Box 1, my first thought was, “he bought the playground from the Biltmore Mansion on EBay and had it delivered to Loganville, GA!” This was not a playground, this was a starter home. Below the picture was the following disclaimer:
ASSEMBLY REQUIRES TWO MODERATELY SKILLED PEOPLE 20-24 HOURS.
I don’t know what your first thought would have been, but mine was, “how does the Biltmore Playground Company define moderately?” If they define moderately the way I define moderately, then we had a problem. I knew in my heart, as dad and I stood over “Box 1 of 5,” that neither of us was in the ballpark of moderately skilled. I wish I had the words to pen a description of the 90 minutes following the opening box 1, but I don’t. If I did, you would not find the phrases moderately skilled, progress, or on the right track in the description. Suffice it to say, complicated would probably be the word you would start with to explain the playground project.
The playground project demanded something from me that I didn’t have in order for me to find success. This was not a “come as you are, follow the directions and you will be fine” kind of project. It wasn’t for everyone. It certainly wasn’t for me.
I began to ponder my spiritual life. I began to think of the simplicity of Jesus’ teachings. I remembered that when He draws us by His Spirit and calls us to Himself, He requires nothing from us, only something of us. There is a difference. The playground project not only required something of me, (hard work, commitment, discipline, and obedience to the instructions) it also required something from me (a pre-developed set of skills). When Jesus prompted my heart, offered me His salvation, and invited me to join Him on a journey, He required nothing from me. He bid me to come as I was. I bring nothing significant to the relationship, only the sin and baggage of my life without Him and yet He gave me new life. He doesn’t require moderately moral, moderately good, or moderately ethical people. He wants me just as I am; hurting, broken, and in need of Him.
As I continue the journey with Him, He does require something of me; my life. That’s right, He wants our life. He wants of me the same thing that the playground project did; hard work, commitment, discipline, and obedience to the instructions. The difference is He requires nothing from me, which is good because I have nothing to give.
In Ezra 7:10, we read that the hand of God was on Ezra. We also get a glimpse as to why the hand of God was on Ezra. “The gracious hand of his God was on him, because Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Sounds like a pretty simple plan for spiritual growth, doesn’t it? I believe simple faith and obedience, like Ezra showed, is what Jesus expects of us. Ezra didn’t do a lot, but He did what mattered most. He did what was required of him.
2 Peter 1:3 reads, “For His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness, by the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” As we, believers, journey with God, we have all the tools we need. Unlike the playground that required a skill set and my own tools, the journey requires nothing from me and even provides me with all the tools! I want to be an Ezra. I don’t want to make complicated something that God made simple. I want to determine in my heart to know God through His word, obey what His word says, and tell those things to others. I don’t have to be moderately skilled to do that, just obedient.
As of this writing, no significant progress has been made on the baby Biltmore, but I will keep you updated.