|The Eighteen Inch Deficit
| (This excerpt is taken from my soon to be released book entitled, "The Death Grip Syndrome."
Jesus said, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)
I was a small boy tagging along behind my mother through a large Chicago department store. My tiny eyes were
opened to capacity as they darted from place to place attempting to take in this new world of shapes, lights and
colors. We passed through aisle after amazing aisle. Shelves were lined with an assortment of strange and
beautiful objects. Moms arms were filled with the spoils of her latest shopping conquest. She couldn't hold my
hand, so I clung tightly to the hem of her skirt as we went from floor to floor slipping in and out of aisles in a
relentless search for that "real bargain".
My toddler size attention span was reaching its limits when suddenly something wonderful happened. Our safari
through the merchandise jungle led us into a place of magic. I never thought such a world existed! TOY LAND!
"Mommy!" I cried in excitement. ";l-o-o-o-k-k-k!!! My heart began to pound faster and faster! "Mahh-mee!!!"
There was still no response. She had long ago entered into a feeding frenzy somewhere back in the lingerie
department, and my attempts at attracting her attention were lost in the foray. Gosh! Couldn't she see all the neat
stuff?! Miles and miles of...TOYS!
I released my grip on her skirt for just a moment and tried to get a closer look. It was all too wonderful! I mean
after all, we're talking about millions of balls, tanks, guns, toy solders and an assortment of curious looking
gadgets which I had never seen before. "Had Santa come and no one told me?!" I certainly hoped not!
Suddenly, the throng of wild-eyed bargain hunters closed in around me, and I was whisked away. Looking over
one shoulder, I saw Toy Land quickly vanish behind the press. I struggled to glance over my other shoulder only to
catch the fading glimmer of red from my mothers skirt.
I hopelessly tried to push my way in her direction, but I was no match for the blitz of shoppers that was dragging
me away. The time for panic had officially arrived. I waved my puny arms and shouted as loud as I could, but my
cries of distress were shrouded in the hustle and bustle of a mega department store sale. I was desperately
trying to push my way through the forest of legs, bobbing and weaving, as I dodged swinging pocket books.
I was working my way around a lady with a posterior roughly the size of Rhode Island, when the crowd suddenly
thinned. I could finally catch a faint glimpse of my mothers familiar red skirt moving further and further away. I
strained with my last ounce of strength, until I found myself within grasp. Then leaping with hand extended, I
caught a hand full of fabric in a death grip and held on tightly.
Once again I found myself being carried past columns of shinning merchandise and colorful signs that shouted,
"Buy me!" But soon the excitement began to give way to exhaustion, and I was ready to call it a day. I
just wanted to go home, crawl in my cozy bed and forget this day ever happened; except for the part about Toy
Land of course.
My face felt like lead as I lifted it. "Mommy. I wanna go home...I'm tired!" I was waiting for my Moms familiar
voice to respond, when suddenly everything came to an abrupt halt, and I plowed into her back side!
"Well, well...where did you come from?!", came a cheery reply from above. I looked up at the person towering
over me and found myself staring into the face of a total stranger! I had grabbed the wrong red skirt! I had been
following someone I thought was my mother all over that large department store while my real mom was
frantically searching for me. There I was lost in a world of giants, until I was finally joyfully reunited with my real
mother, and all the world was right again.
In John Chapter 14, Philip, one of the twelve, made a request of Jesus. "Lord, show us the Father... Jesus
seemed surprised at his appeal. "Don't you know me Philip, even after I have been among you such a long
time?" On another occasion, Jesus made this startling declaration. "Not everyone who calls me,'Lord,
Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 7:21) He then went on to say that there would be
"many" who professed to know him and would even claim to have performed miracles in his name.
However, Jesus' response to their boast is most alarming! "then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you.
Away from me, you evildoers!" (vs. 23) Why would Jesus say such a thing to people such as these?
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. (Proverbs 14: 12)
Countless numbers are going to miss heaven by 18 inches! This is the approximate distance between the head
and the heart. Jesus said that there are many who think that everything is perfectly all right between them and
God. They profess some kind of faith in God and even claim to be Christians. They may lead fairly moral lives
and regularly attend church. Yet they remain deceived.
Like that little lost boy, they think they have a firm grip on God, but they don't. Rather, they are holding tightly to
something that seems right. They've accepted the historical Christ and have made something of an intellectual
ascent, but have never made a commitment to his Lordship. They have a "death grip" on some mistaken
concept of Christianity. But when Jesus returns, they will find that they were wrong- dead wrong!
There were people like this in Jesus' day. The Scribes and the Pharisees were the religious leaders. They knew
more about the Bible and how to be religious than anyone. Others looked to them for spiritual guidance. These
people were certain that they knew God. Yet when Emmanuel, (meaning "God with us"), was speaking to them
face to face, they didn't recognize him. "Who are you?" They asked. (John. 8:26) They had a firm death grip on
their own religious and philosophical world view. Oh, they felt certain of their position. The only problem was that
they were clinging tightly to the wrong skirt.
Our western churches are much the same. They're full of people who think they have Jesus, because they're
clinging tightly to a certain concept of Christianity. All too often though, it's a passed down religious point of view,
rather than something they have come to know on a personal basis. It's a way, which seems right, but what is the
end of it? Do they truly know Jesus, or are they merely religious? Do they really know what it means to be born
again? If not, one day this life will come to a screeching halt. They will stand before God, look up and find
themselves staring into the face of a stranger.
In John chapter 3, Jesus had an encounter with one of the most religious men of his day. Nicodemus was a
deeply devout Pharisee who enjoyed high standing in the community and was even a member of the Jewish
equivalent of our Supreme Court, the Sanhedrin. No one was more religious than Nicodemus or loved and
wanted to serve God more.
Yet Jesus looked him straight in the eye and said, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless
he is born again." (vs. 3) His point was this. "Nicodemus, it doesn't matter how religious or how righteous you
think that your belief system makes you. It's not good enough. You MUST be born again!" In other words, "Nick
ole buddy, you have a good strong grip...on the wrong skirt, and you're being carried on a path that will ultimately
lead to death!"
You, or someone you know, may be very much like our friend Nicodemus. Someone who considers himself to be
a decent, moral sort. You may even know something about the Bible. Chances are that you even go to church
and give generously when the collection plate passes by. You might actually teach Sunday School or even stand
behind a pulpit, BUT if you haven't made Jesus the Lord of your life, it means NOTHING!
Sadly, many are holding on with white knuckles to a deadly misconception. They continue to be dragged through
life thinking, or at best hoping, that everything is OK between them and God. The grim reality, however, is that
they are lost and very far from the truth.
Now, God wants to ask you a question. "Do you have a death grip? Are you clinging to the wrong skirt?" Jesus
said that there are "many" who are. Are you one of them?
1 John 5:13 says, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may KNOW
that you have eternal life." Yes. You can know for sure that you have eternal life.
|Would you like to know for certain that you're going to Heaven?