WHAT MAKES YOU TICK? Andy Hollifield 1-10-17
I began to think as I sat in Monday night prayer meeting, about a verse of scripture and a word that is one of the least used words in the entire bible. That word is “constraineth”. There are not a lot of words that I have found in scripture, outside of maybe a name, that are only used once or twice. Constrain is only used once and constraineth is used only twice. As I sat in church, I thought about this scripture, 2 Corinthians 5:14 “For the love of God constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:” I heard a wonderful message about “The Love Of God” and how that everything we have been blessed with is because of God’s love toward us. Immediately the scripture I mentioned came to mind even though I had to look it up when I got home. I began to think about this question; what makes me do what I do? So I will ask you to ask yourself the same question.
As I look back over the course of my life, I realize that I have spent almost all of it in church. A few of my earliest years mom and dad weren’t regular in church but when mom started going regular and the church prayed my dad back in, they began to make up for their early lack of dedication to the things of the Lord by keeping us faithfully in church throughout the remainder of my childhood. I will soon be 52 years old and from about age 7, church has been all I’ve known. I have not always been as faithful as I should be but there is a draw that only comes from God. Why? Because of that love. That love that he displayed for me when he gave his son to die on the cross for my sins. That love that Christ displayed by hanging there when he didn’t have to but chose to take my place in death because he knew nothing I could ever do would merit salvation for my soul and forgiveness of my sins.
As I think about that love he has for me, I remember taking my church hymnal outside so I could practice something to sing on Sunday. As I laid the book down on a stack of cinder blocks that I was using as a table, I remember the Lord telling me; “there’s more to it than what you’ve got.” I was only 8 yrs old so I wasn’t beaten down with sin but I was still lost and headed for hell just as much as the biggest sinner in Buncombe county. I don’t know exactly when that happened but I do know that on October 2nd, 1973 in revival meeting at Pisgah Forest Freewill Baptist Church in Barnardsville, NC on that Tuesday night probably close to 9:00 the Lord saved my soul. Why? Certainly not because I deserved it because God knew every sin I would ever commit and he saved me anyway. It wasn’t because I was a great singer because most of the time my voice quivered and I couldn’t hardly sing without crying because I was so scared. No, it wasn’t for any possible good he saw in me but simply because he loved me. Who would have ever thought that a little, scared, 8-year-old boy would ever grow up and be sitting at a computer writing something trying to encourage folks to put and keep their trust in the Lord. Personal computers hadn’t even been invented yet. But do you know why I really write? I thought about that and it is the same reason I do most of the things I do. Because “the love of God constraineth me.” By the way, the word constrain means to compel or force, especially by persuasion, circumstance, etc… or to oblige or urge. As a young boy, I just couldn’t help but want to sing in church because that love constrained me. It began to urge me. As I grew older, around my 21st birthday he began to constrain me to preach the gospel. I knew I wasn’t capable and was sure God was making his first mistake ever but the fact he loves me like he does constrained me. A lot of times in 30 years of preaching I have wanted to quit. I have thought that no one is listening and they won’t even anybody notice if I quit. Do you know what has stopped me? It is that love that always constrains me and compels me by persuasion to keep trusting him and doing what he tells me to do. Over the years I have been through some pretty severe trials in my life. Some of them, like the loss of my health at age 18 and again at age 46, the loss of a child through miscarriage, the loss of my career at age 46, the loss of my father at age 42, and different other things could have turned me against God and made me bitter. The only reason they didn’t was because his love just keeps constraining me. It keeps drawing me back to him. Like the apostle Peter once said to Jesus when he was asked if he would leave him as others had, “to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”
Paul went on in the scripture in 2 Corinthians to elaborate on all that Christ has done for us. He realized that he also had been dead in his trespasses and sin before Jesus saved him. He went on to explain that Christ had made him a new creature and changed his desires and the things he used to hate he now loved. In verse 19 he explains that we are now ambassadors for Christ. Why? Because of that love that constrains us that we just can’t resist.
I heard a story of a preacher that came home from church one Sunday morning, walked in his study, threw his bible across the room, and hit the wall with it, and sat down and commenced to tell God he was quitting. He had endured all he could stand and he didn’t believe any one was listening, and he had had enough. Before he quit though, he told God he needed to settle up with him and thank him for some things he had done for him and blessed him with in his life. After that, he would be finished, never to darken the door of a church again. As he sat in his chair and began to name off his family, his friends, his home, his cars, and recount some of the hopeless situations that God had brought him through, he began to realize something. He realized; how in the world can a man quit on somebody that has blessed him that much, and gave him that much, and brought him through that much, and loved him that much? He picked up his bible with a renewed zeal for the Lord. What happened you may ask? The love of God constrained him.
So in those times when you feel like giving up and quitting, ask yourself this question: where would you be if he had? If he had given up and quit on his way to the cross, where would you be? I’m glad God never gave up on me. Even when I hit my middle and high school years and tried to get away from him and wouldn’t live for him and tell others about him, his love still constrained me. I started off by asking the question; what makes you tick? What is it that makes you do the things you do? As I looked back over my life, the answer seems obvious; the love of God constraineth me. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!