Activate your imagination for a few moments. The room you are standing in has two chairs side by side, both facing the same direction, and separated by a short distance. Keep your imagination going and have a seat in the first chair. Now, a quick explanation… the chair that you are now occupying represents your current spiritual condition. Not what you used to be, not what you hope to be, but who you are spiritually at this moment in time.
Additionally, I want you to imagine that in the chair where you’re seated are three individuals. Perhaps it would help to consider the concept of the Trinity—three persons in one. In this chair is a trinity of individuals that represents your spiritual life. Allow me to introduce you to yourself/yourselves.
The first person sitting in the chair is the person you think you are. Who are you really? While it seems safe to say you know yourself better than anyone else, Jesus reminds the church at Laodicea that self can be deceived (See Rev. 3:17). Whether your assessment is correct or not, you have an idea about your spiritual life; and most of the time it is a pretty good assessment of your spiritual reality.
The second person in the chair is the person everyone else thinks you are. Your spouse, children, church, employers, etc., all believe something about your spiritual life. Whether you like it or not, whether their opinion is right or not, everyone makes an assessment of your spiritual life.
The third person sitting in the crowded chair is the person God knows you to be. Your spiritual life is not concealed from God. You cannot read Jesus’ letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor without concluding that God knows the heart. He says to every church, “I know…” If there’s one thing of which we are certain, it is that God knows the condition of the human heart. He knows if you are a sinner or saint, whether you are carnal or cleansed, if you are complacent or committed. He knows you!
Now, the spiritual goal is for all three of the people in this first chair to be in complete harmony with one another. The person you think you are, the person everyone thinks you are, and the person God knows you are should all agree that you are a Christ-follower, Spirit-filled, God-honoring individual.
Push pause quickly! Take a brief moment, stop reading this article, and ask the Lord to examine your heart. This part of the exercise is so crucial. If one does not have an honest understanding of their current condition, spiritual confusion and frustration will follow. The faithful Holy Spirit responds to the genuine desire to know the condition of the human heart. Did you do it? I hope so! Upon the conclusion of this important heart exam, you will see the real spiritual condition of yourself in the first chair. (You are still sitting there, aren’t you?)
Let’s now introduce the second chair off to your right. This chair represents where God wants you to be or who God wants you to become. Listen carefully, where you are now, is not where God wants you indefinitely. This truth is reflected in the Apostle Peter’s writings when he says “add to your faith” and “grow in grace.” For the sake of this illustration, God wants you in the second chair.
So if you are in the first chair and God wants you in the second chair, how can you get there? If God wants you there, certainly He’s going to do what He can to get you there. But you also play a role in getting to that chair. I would suggest there are four catalysts (something that precipitates a change) that will help you.
First, there’s the catalyst of the Word. God’s Word, both in private study and public proclamation, is used by God to move you where He wants you to be. Paul writes concerning the Word that it is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction…” The hearing, the studying, the applying of God’s Word to your heart will never leave you in chair one. The Word will propel you to the second chair.
Secondly, there’s the catalyst of the whisper. The whisperings of the Spirit into your heart is another of God’s means to get you to the second chair. John records Jesus’ words in chapter 16, “…when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.” Any spiritual progress ultimately comes from the work of the Spirit. Are you quiet enough to hear the whisper?
Third, there is the catalyst of the want. This third point brings into the equation the human element. If one does not want to move to chair two, he/she won’t. No one ever said, “I didn’t mean to draw closer to God, but here I am closer than I’ve ever been.” No, getting to the second chair happens only if you want it to happen. Do you want all that God has for you?
Finally, there’s the catalyst of the will. Even if there’s a fleeting desire, if one lacks the will to get to the second chair, he/she will never get there. The story of the rich, young ruler gets a lot of attention, but rightly so. It is a tragic example of an individual who initially had a “want to,” but was not willing to pay the price. Chair number two can only be occupied if you engage your will, and intentionally get there.
This brings me to the conclusion and the choice we all face as we each consider the chair to the right of us. God longs to send us a personal revival that will get us from where we are to where we need to be. He’ll use the Word and the Whisper to help us. Do we have the want and will to see it happen? Will you join me in praying, “Lord, whatever it takes, get me to that second chair”?