What’s Ruling Your life?

 As I spent a week with my Frontline school team on a backpacking trip last week, I was overwhelmed by the beautiful nature we saw and by this simple question.. “What am I setting my gaze on?” 

Our team of 26 young people started off on our week-long trek on a Monday morning. We all piled into an old, bright orange, VW bus, and a Toyota 4Runner, both complete with trailers full of hiking backpacks, food, firewood, and camping supplies. The bus ride was long and hot as we drove about 4 hours south of our base in Perth, WA, all of us decked out in our camping and hiking gear. The country scenery and small towns were fun to watch as we drove by, and many of us soon found ourselves laughing and playing different games together to pass the time. We also managed to take a pit stop at a “cape-to-cape” trail along the ocean near a lighthouse. We hiked for a short while around the coastline to get a first glimpse of the incredible scenery we would be indulging in the rest of the week. I was hit personally with crazy awe and excitement for the breathtaking beauty right in front of us.

Once we arrived at our campsite in the Margaret River area we soon unloaded and began to set up camp. First things first… the tents. What a feat it was to get 26 people to work together to put up three well used 8 person tents! I found it funny to observe people’s personalities surfacing quickly as we finally managed to get our temporary homes standing tall. One tent went up quickly, and the other two had more difficulty. We eventually had to stop for a snack break to ease “hangry” feelings, and then a smaller number of us hung back to actually finish putting them together. After getting settled we were able to relax and explore the camp ground, enjoy some awesome chilli and rice, and wind down around the campfire.

Our lecture focus for the week was titled, “Lordship”. Essentially, “what do you deem as important?/what, or who, is the ruler of your life?”

I found the lecture topic and our hiking trips went together hand in hand. Each morning our senses were completely bombarded with the epic reality of the cape trails. Everything from the bright blues of the ocean, the roar of the waves, the feel of the sand between our toes or gritting between socks and hiking boots, the taste of the salt water in the air – or just the whole of the scenery of plantation, rocks, surf, and sand around us was enough in itself to declare the vastness of creation, and the mastery of a Creator.

Are we really willing to give up those things we are comfortable doing, even if we know they are harming ourselves and others?

After a great breakfast and a couple hours of hiking, we would find a good spot to stop and have our lectures each day. Our key Bible verse for this week, found in Galatians 2 verse 20, talks about living a life for Jesus and not for our own gain, as Christ Himself gave up His life for us. The lectures consisted of great heart questions and challenges to look inwardly at the things, ideas, or people we have placed as most important in our lives, and to look at what it would actually entail to lay those things down. We were challenged to take action, and we were challenged to authentically apply this word we know, “holiness”, to our lives.

This idea of “holiness”, this word, “holy”, can often be intimidating or can turn people off. We often associate this with the need to be perfect or to be some other religious stereotype. But in reality, this word means to be “set apart”. This challenge to be “holy”, is a challenge to be “accountable to the known and revealed truths we have discovered.” (Quote from Sven, our DTS leader.)

I think I know why we often don’t like this word, or at the least I can tell you why I haven’t liked this word: it demands integrity, it demands change. And are we really willing to give up those things we are comfortable doing, even if we know they are harming ourselves and others? Are we willing to take an active part in applying the truths and knowledge we know, to actively live those things out in our lives, and not just in theory? We don’t like to because it can be painful. We don’t like to because it means we have to give up our pride. We don’t like to because it means we might actually need a Saviour…

But here is the good news: we can do it! We can be “holy” – we can be set apart! And above all, it’s worth it. God is worth it. All of nature evidently cries out and speaks of an extraordinary creator, how much more then shall we not consider to do the same? If we believe in such an incredible God, and we believe He is the God of the Bible, the Bible tells us God made us to have relationship with Him. And this God keeps doing things to try to bring us to Him, to have relationship with Him. He did the most incredible thing that He sent Jesus to come and atone for our wrongs – for our lack of being set apart – so that we could have the opportunity to have relationship with Him always, to be saved from ourselves, and to actually live a life that is holy. What an amazing God! And in doing these things to reach out to us, He gave us the example of Jesus to know how we can live and be.

So, here’s the question: What is ruling your life? …  What are you setting your gaze on?

If we can see the evidence of such an incredible God in nature; if we can see the evidence of God at work in our lives or in the lives of others; if we’ve allowed the message of His gift of life to us sink in – how much more, then, shall we not let this effect us? How can we not take action?

This whole week, although an incredible time of community building, great food, and enjoying the great outdoors, was really about challenging ourselves to choose Jesus. To choose Him first. To make Him the ruler – the Lord – of our lives. What a blessing and an amazing opportunity we have in merely living! Although we may come from a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences, hardships, or struggles, the reality is that we are here – we are alive. And in being alive we ultimately get to choose what we deem to be most important to us and what we let rule our lives. I think that is an awesome opportunity, and I want to challenge you to take that opportunity, and to run with it. I challenge you to examine your lifestyle and your habits, to examine what you spend your time thinking about, what you spend your time doing. Is it worth it? At the core of who you are, what to you put first? Who do you put first? I want to challenge you to consider Jesus. I want to encourage you to make Jesus the Lord of your life, to allow Him to set you apart from the things that hold you back or keep you selfish, to allow Him to bless you to be a blessing, to allow Him to transform your understanding of what’s really important. I want to challenge you to live a life of integrity and a life that is full of freedom – freedom that is found in amazement for an incredible God. Out of this everything else will flow, it will be influentially contagious, and you will have so much peace and freedom in a life that is set apart – a life that can make a difference in the lives of other people, a life that “dies” to instincts of selfishness.

So, here’s the question: What is ruling your life? …  What are you setting your gaze on?