Within the last couple of weeks, I had the pleasure/challenge of spending some time at one of the happiest places on earth, otherwise known as Disneyland. Along with all the wonderful sights of the magic land, I also got to witness up close and personal the bare truth of the mass of humanity: crying children, frustrated parents, bickering spouses, selfish line jumpers, immodest dressers. Fortunately, I also got to witness the happy side of being human, the smiles, laughter, fun and acts of kindness a happy atmosphere generates that are all part of the reason so many people are willing to open their wallets, literally, and partake in the wonderful world of Disney.
Once I got home and had time to decompress and reflect on my time in the “land,” I was struck by the awesomeness of the love that God has for us, all of us, even in our frustrated or downright mean moments, a love so strong and all-encompassing that He sent Jesus, His Son, God-made-man, to sacrifice Himself so that we might be saved. How short did I fall standing in the long line waiting to ride Space Mountain from loving the people around me as Jesus loved them, even the bored kids swinging on the aisle chains despite being told by park authorities and their parents not to? As I was soaking in the bright colors of the varied architecture and the sightings of costumed characters from various cartoon movies, did I once take time to think about the opportunities before me to love people I would likely never see again?
The answer is, of course I didn’t. I was too busy trying to get the most out of my $300 tickets, too concentrated on not giving into the exhaustion of going and going for 15 hours straight each day in order to get the most out of this opportunity to experience something I don’t normally get to experience.
Today at church, I learned a new way of looking at opportunities like the ones I missed at Disneyland. The elder speaking to us before the offering plate was passed around encouraged us to begin to think about the power of changing just one vowel in our self-talk, making the word “got” to “get.” In other words, I have “got” to be nice to strangers, even when they are rude, becomes I “get” to be nice to strangers because I understand how much God loves even me, a sinner. When I have been forgiven, how can I not also be forgiving? Why wouldn’t I want to grab hold of the opportunities afforded to every Christian to spread the grace that is the only gift we don’t do anything to deserve?
This shift from “got” to GET is profound. GET is something we want to do. GET is special. GET holds promise. GET is going to Disneyland!
In the last few weeks, I have been concentrating more and more on the spiritual practice and practices that bring us closer to God. We are only saved by the grace of God, not because of anything we do, but that in no way means that what Christians do or do not isn’t important. In fact, we can argue from the Bible that professing Christians are expected to bear fruit, to strive to be in the Spirit and not of the flesh. For those Christians who are not striving to do these things, GET is not likely to be in their vocabulary. But it can be with just the shifting of a single vowel.
Paul implores the Galatians, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (6:7-10).
In this season leading to the greatest holiday of all, Easter, the celebration that He lives, that Christ has risen, we GET to reap the benefits of His love. We GET to share that gift of grace with those who may never have heard about it before. We GET to sow the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, faithfulness, goodness, peace, joy, kindness, patience, meekness, self-control. We GET to be Christ to the world.
Change got to GET this week. The life you change may not just be your own.