Clearing the Stage: A Means to an End

I hope you have all had the opportunity to read Jimmy’s “Clearing the Stage” blogs this week on his facebook page. They have been phenomenal and full of truth and wisdom. He has mentioned a quote from Tim Keller defining idolatry as “turning good things into ultimate things.” I love this definition because it reminds us that it isn’t always something inherently evil that takes God’s place; often times it is something good.


I began praying this morning that God would reveal more things that push Him out center stage in my life. As I wrote down things that came to mind, none of them were bad things: my desire to be a good wife and mom, my desire for a clean and orderly house, to be a good friend, just to name a few. All of these things are good and righteous desires, but often they are the very things that keep me from God. When my desire to be a good wife, mom, friend, or homemaker compete with my desire to know God more, it’s my time with God that usually gets cut. I justify this by telling myself, “I can spend time with God any time I want to, but right now I need to (fill in the blank).” I am have become so quick to cut out my Jesus time because “I can fit Him in anywhere.” But usually, the end of those days come sooner than I realize, and I find I haven’t thought twice about my God.


Sometimes I wonder if I treated one of my friends the way I treat God, how would she respond? I have a lunch date planned with her to catch up, but the kitchen is really dirty and I had better clean it. So I cancel about 5 minutes before with no more reason than it isn’t a good time any more. Or I tell her she is really the best friend I have and I want to meet at least once a week, but I only show up to half of the dates we set because I forgot or had something “more important” come up. I don’t think she would be my friend for very long. Yet, sadly, this is often how I treat Jesus, the savior of my soul. Yes, it is true that if we have trusted in Jesus as our Savior, His spirit dwells within us and we have access to Him 24/7. But should that really give me the right to treat God such flippancy and disrespect?


I think even more telling are the times that I am most desperate for God and consistent in prayer. It’s usually in very difficult seasons when I am seeking Him for something. My tendency is to use God as a means to an end, instead of the only end that I really need. Let me share a quote from one of my favorite booklets called “The Abba Cry” by Don Lessin:

“Jesus must never become the means to an end. If your self-interests are the loudest sound within you, Jesus will become a means to that end. We may never admit it outwardly, but in our hearts we will know if Jesus is no longer the end we live for. If human relations take the place of Jesus, those relationships will become the loudest sound within you. Christian ministry can become the loudest sound that you hear. Ministry, marvelous ministry, can move Jesus into the shadows, even in the midst of working hard for Him.”



Don shares from his own experience in ministry saying “Walking in and out of the presence of God, and looking to Him for quick answers, I found that Jesus had become the means to an end. I never ceased loving and serving Him, but He was not the center of my being.” Oh how true this is in me at times. I let the peripheral things (family, friends, hobbies, cleaning, and ministry) take center stage in my life, pushing Jesus to the sidelines.


The more aware I become of this tendency in my heart, the easier it is to identify when I am slipping into this form of idolatry. Here are a few ways I have begun to notice Jesus becoming a means to an end: When my times with God become about what I can get from Him instead of how I can get to know Him. When my prayer life is only full of asking God for things, instead of talking with God about things. When I am quick to cancel my appointed time with Him for other lesser things. May this trend in my life come to an end as Jesus becomes the central theme and song of my heart. I pray that my heart becomes so bent on knowing Jesus more that my life would scream, “everything is a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ!” (Phil 3:7-8) and that my time with Jesus would become so precious and dear to me that I will sacrifice other things to preserve my time with Him.


Let me close by sharing a challenge for us all by Don: “Is Jesus what you really want? Is He enough? It’s not that ministry is wrong, or that having a beautiful family is wrong, but these things should be an outflow of our passion for Him. Way down deep, do you hear the voice of the Spirit of God talking to your spirit? Do you hear God saying, ‘Turn off all the sounds within you, but My voice. Turn off the sound of business, family, and ministry. Turn off the TV, the radio, and the music. Turn off the call of sports and movies and entertainment. Let it all be silent within you, and hear My voice’? As you listen to His voice what do you hear? Do you hear the Spirit saying, ‘Are you satisfied with Jesus? Are you really interested in taking time to be beautiful inside?’ I encourage you to get quiet before Him today and nail down in your spirit what is the loudest sound that you want to hear.”


Please, do yourself a favor and order a copy of “The Abba Cry” here. It costs $3 and will take 30 minutes to read through. I try to read it once every couple months simply as a heart check. Since it is so cheap, maybe order a few copies and give one to a friend or someone in vocational ministry.

4 thoughts on “Clearing the Stage: A Means to an End

  1. Hi Kelly,

    Thank you so much for this post! This has been a central theme in the last few weeks of my quiet time with God. I have found myself repenting of the arrogance I have displayed and how I feel as though I can meet God at another time in the day. I love your analogy of meeting a friend for a lunch date, that was so convicting and affirmed how I take God’s love and faithfulness for granted so many times. Where as I would be so embarrassed to leave a friend waiting or even to cancel on them.

    Thank you for your encouraging words of wisdom. I look forward to more posts in the future.

    Blessings,
    -A

  2. Your blog and Jimmy’s music is always such an encouragement to me. I always get excited when I see you have a new post. Always very thought provoking. I love getting to know the woman behind the music, and hearing your perspective! I’ve been a fan of Jimmy’s for a long time, but it wasn’t until the past year that I really started to love his music. Not just because it’s wonderful to listen to, but because of the lyrics. I’ve grown weary of many Christian artists, because of inability to sing truth based on the Scriptures. I love Jimmy’s boldness and honesty in his music. It’s always very uplifting to listen to Jimmy. Not in a “I feel great about myself!” kind of way, but in a way that encourages me to meditate on the Scripture and give credit to the One who truly deserves it. I’ve been listening to Jimmy’s music all weekend, and it’s been such a blessing. I just wanted to thank both of you for everything you do. You guys are amazing!

  3. I am so greatful to you and Jimmy for taking the time to encourage others to clear their stage for God. As I have been reading both of your blogs I am getting more and more revelation on what I need to change. See I have an amazing husband and two wonderful kids. My husband works very hard, so our time together is limited. I am constantly focusing on how much family time we can get together; however I am never satisfied with our time. Either because we were distracted, indecisive on how to spend our time, or Im bummed because we didnt have enough time. Sounds crazy, but It seriously has become such an issue. During this week I have repented and realized how selfish I have been. I wondered if My Heavenly Father is as unsatisfied with the little time I carve out of my days for Him as I am with the Family time I get. if I learn to make My Jesus center of my life instead of “Family Time” then maybe I will learn how to make our family time just what it is suppose to be… Joyful and fulfilling because Jesus will be at the center of it all!!!

  4. I’ve been reading yours and Jimmy’s blog posts this past week… and have been so encouraged! Thank you!

    This one hits hard. I know this is part of my life that I really need to be examining. Thanks for being so open – I can totally relate with that tendency to put off time with God in favour of a hundred and one other things that “need” to be done… It’s so convicting to think about having that kind of horrible attitude when it comes to maintaining a friendship. I’m reminded of that verse in James 4:4, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” Wow… He put it a little more strongly than I would have. I’ll be thinking on that this week, and I’ll be making some changes to how I approach this One who deserves all my worship, and certainly deserves my time. To Him be the glory!

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