Prepare your defense

Before I jump from the book of 1 Peter to the book of 2 Peter, there was one thing I wanted to write about.  It’s the following verse.

1 Peter 3:15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

The goal of being a true follower of Jesus is to serve as an example of Him to the world.  Ideally, I want to be living a life so holy and good that people come up and ask, “what’s your secret”?  But here’s the thing.  Wanting to live holy is one thing, but 1 Peter tells us to ALWAYS be prepared to make a defense for why the hope is in you.  As dumb as it sounds, that caught me off guard a little bit.  I’m great at privately studying the bible and praying, I’m great at worshiping God during church, and I’m fully at ease writing about the bible here on my blog.  But the thought of someone coming up to me and saying, “what’s your secret?”, that’s something that pushes me out of my comfort zone.

So, for me to prepare for that and for the sake of any of my online friends who may be wondering what the reason is for the hope that is in me, here is my defense, delivered with gentleness and respect as it always should be.

I have hope and gladness inside of me because I know God.  He’s not an idea to me, he’s not a historical figure, he’s not a character in a book.  God is alive.  I’ve felt him work in my life, I’ve been in rooms when his presence was so thick that I could barely breathe.  I’ve felt warm waves of supernatural comfort, love, and peace pour all over me when I seek His presence and when I sing praises to him in the presence of fellow believers.

I have hope and gladness inside of me because I trust God.  After a lifetime of knowing Him from afar, I’ve finally closed the gap and made Him a priority in my life.  Immediately, not slowly, but immediately He fulfilled promises that his book the bible makes.  He welcomed me with loving, open arms, despite decades of me putting television and videogames and writing and work and friends before HIm.  He immediately changed my heart, restoring in me a deep and overwhelming sense of optimism that I lost in recent years.  I allowed health issues to create self esteem issues and that robbed me of a lot of the things I used to love about myself.  It robbed me of my optimism and it hardened my heart.  Getting my priorities straight and putting my main focus on God delivered me.  He restored that unending joy that used to always exist inside of me.  By doing this work in me and drawing me to Him, God answered prayers of those around me who had been praying for me to get God back in charge of my life.  God gently nudged me out of the driver’s seat of my own life, delivering on his promises that he’s in control and that I can put my worries and fears on Him.  Ever since he’s kept my path straight and true, guiding me away from selfish and sinful behaviors, replacing them with Godly, holy things that bring me joy on a daily basis.

I have hope and gladness inside of me because I am a child of God.  God is the creator of all things, and thus all things belong to him.  This includes me.  I belong to him.  His word tells me that he is my lord, my savior, my creator, but also that he is my father.  I’ve got an incredible dad here on Earth, one of the best, but I also have a heavenly father.  He is the most high king, the Lord above all lords, and I am his son!  By accepting God for who he is, by believing in the sacrifice of Jesus, I gain access to an inheritance that is beyond imagining.  Eternal life!  An existence that is free of heartache, pain, illness, anger, and sin.  A chance to live forever, not because of anything I do, because nothing I do will ever buy me this inheritance, but it’s because of what He did for me and my belief and acceptance of that.

I have hope and gladness inside of me because God is real.  When I pray, I feel Him there.  He sends warm waves through my body as I converse with him.  When I read the bible, He reveals it to me in incredible ways.  What a joy I’ve found in studying the word of God.  It’s a book filled with mystery and love, a living book that can deliver a hundred different meanings in a single sentence.  It surprises me, it challenges me, and it sustains me.  It reveals to me the character of God and the ways in which He wants me to live my life.

Living life is like climbing up a cliffside.  Sometimes you make progress, finding a few hand and footholds.  Sometimes you slide down a bit, gripping the cliff until your fingers bleed, capable of doing little more than surviving.  I have hope and gladness inside of me because I learned to let go of the cliffside.  God’s there, right behind you, waiting for you to rely on him.  The second, the absolute second that I let go, He lifted me up.  Not only did I not fall, but He’s carried me higher than I was ever able to go on my own.  The cliffside is still daunting sometimes, but gone is the fear of falling to my death.  Because I no longer climb alone.

So yeah, it’s a bit wordy, but from my heart that is my defense for the hope that is in me.  If confronted to present this to someone in person, I’ll surely be praying for the Lord to guide my words and help me do an even better job of it than I did here.

Before I end this, I wanted to make a request.  If someone is reading this who may not know God or believe in HIm, or maybe you knew him once but no longer believe or follow Him, I’d ask that you read the one final paragraph below.  Because part of having that hope inside of me is the absolute desire to share it with others because I want every single human to have the peace and joy inside that I do.  So if you would, please spare just another few minutes of your life and read on.

We have a choice to make during our time on this Earth.  Accept God, or deny God.  There’s no in between.  It’s the single most important choice you’ll ever make, with consequences that will last for eternity.  There are a billion things that can trip you up when making this choice.  Selfishness, anger, fear, addiction, lack of knowledge, or maybe simple distraction.  Satan doesn’t need you to be evil to claim your soul, he just needs you to be distracted long enough so you never accept God.  He just needs you addicted long enough, or angry long enough, or stubborn long enough.  Just one minute long enough, one second long enough, and he’s got you.  So I’m going to ask something of any stranger or friend or family member out there who may not know God on a deep, personal level.  For sixty seconds, set aside whatever exists in your life that is keeping you from God.  For sixty seconds put down your phone, set aside your anger, check your ego, let go of a past hurt, whatever it is, whatever that thing is in your life that you point to when you give someone your reason for not being a believer, set it aside for a single minute.  Then ask God if He’s real.  I know that it probably sounds stupid to you, but at the very worst you’re talking to yourself.  Tell God your reason for not believing in Him.  For sixty seconds, quiet your mind and reach out to the creator of the universe.  That’s all I ask of you.  I don’t know what will happen, but I know what could happen, I know what happens to me when I reach out to Him, and I know what I’ll be praying and believing will happen for you when you do this.  God loves you exactly as you are this very second, and even though I may not even know who you are, I love you too.


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