Title: How many of you are here?
By Randall Vaughn
"The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. (Isa 29:13 NIV)
In the seventies, in the early days of "contemporary" Christian music, I had a friend that traveled and did concerts. His name was Rick.
Rick was an interesting guy. He had a physical disability, and could hardly walk. He would come onto the stage in a peculiar sort of hobble, take a seat on a stool, and begin to talk, sing, and play guitar.
Rick was a comedian of sorts too. He would put his hand over his eyes to shade them from the stage lights, look out over the crowd, and ask, "How many of you are here?"
It always got a good laugh, because it would catch so many of the crowd "off guard". Some raised their hands, and some, well, they just didn't "get it".
Rick would go on with his concert, but that question, "How many of you are here?" stuck with me.
I have thought about it often in life. I think about it when the clerk checks me out in the grocery store line. I think about it when looking at a congregation in church. I think about it as the daily "Today's Seed" message goes out. It is a good question.
So often in life, we are "there", but we are not "there". We may be "there" physically, but our heart and mind is somewhere else. We may give mental acknowledgement to something, but the vision is not there. We may give agreement to something, but the commitment is not there. We "go through the motions", but the passion is missing. You get the idea.
I see it in church, when people sit through a challenging message, then walk out the door unchanged. They acknowledged the truth with their mind, but their heart was not "there". They were "there", but they were not "there".
I see it in marriages, friendships, families, and business relationships. People just exist, just survive. They are "there", but they are not "there".
Sometimes, those relationships are painful - too painful to acknowledge. They feel that the cost of applying themselves in that relationship is just too great.
And sometimes it is.
But in other cases, it is such a great loss. I have seen relationships that could be so rich, deep, and wonderful, but the people do not apply themselves. They do not care about the other enough to be "there". They are too self-absorbed, too self-interested, too selfish to ever allow that relationship to approach its potential.
As I begin another new year, I have applied that question to my own life.
Where is my passion, my focus, my vision? What is my purpose?
Am I fully and completely committed to what I understand of the purpose God has placed me here to fulfill? Am I giving my best in my relationship with God and with others?
Am I really "here"?
They way I have dealt with that question is to examine my life, and ask God about the things that are most important.
I have ask Him to renew and expand my understanding of the vision He has for my life and this ministry. I have asked Him to bring me to a greater understanding of the purpose He has for my life and this ministry. And I have asked Him for a deeper relationship with Him.
I have asked for those things because I believe that out of those things flow the answers to any problem I may encounter, any question I may ask, or any need I may have.
I ask you Rick's question: "How many of you are here?"
And I challenge you to ask yourself the question: "Where am I - really?"
Are you committed in your relationships with others and with God, or are you just "there", giving mental acknowledgement without a real commitment of heart? Are you just existing, or are you aggressively seeking a deeper, richer, and more mature relationship with God and others and are you seeking to understand more of His purpose for your life?
It has been said, "If you are going to be in the game, play to win."
Approach your relationship with God the same way. If you are going to have a relationship with Him, give it your all.
Because by giving Him your all, He can give you His all.
He is "here". He has always been "here". He will always be "here".
And He is asking us the question, "How many of you are here?"