Founded in 1776, the Mission at San Juan Capistrano was a Christian outreach to the indigenous people of the area. Still a working parish today, its 10 acres include historical ruins, restored buildings and lovely gardens. While visiting the Mission’s grounds, I sat in the peaceful courtyard, drowning out the traffic noise of modern civilization, easily lulled into imagining how pleasant life was when the mission was surrounded mostly by vineyards.
I envied the slower pace of earlier inhabitants. They didn’t have to deal with an over-flowing email box, schedules so crowded an electronic device is needed to store all the appointments or the frenetic speed of California’s crazy traffic. I imagined them working lazily in the fields, enjoying nightly community dinners where laughter and music abounded plus strolling through the garden drinking in its aromatic beauty while deep in prayer.
That feeling stayed with me all the way to the parking lot, but abruptly ended the minute I turned over the ignition in my car. The moment the engine caught, I asked myself, “Who was I kidding?” These folks worked hard; their days longer and filled with more drudgery and exertion than mine. They did life without refrigeration, pure drinking water, electricity, telephones or computers. They battled disease at every turn without antibiotics, X-rays or vaccines.
And yet, every Sunday, they stopped everything to worship at the Mission. For the early inhabitants, life revolved around God. They listened to the Mission’s bells calling them in from the fields at night, gave up working on Sundays to partake of the Eucharist, spent years building the church – meaning they hauled stones sometimes by hand from over 6 miles away! Which started me wondering if I merely tack Christ on to my busy life? Is He just another app to get me through the day? Or do I give Him everything I am?
Their Christianity was not a half-in existence, nor should mine be today. Christianity is all-in, devoting your life to Him and Him alone. They knew making Jesus the Lord of your life requires dedicating all you do to Your Heavenly Father. Jesus warned his disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25.
As a Christian, He becomes your life. This is sometimes hard to determine in mine given my unwillingness to find the time to daily study His word, prioritize solitude to be with Him and listen to His still small voice. I don’t ever wish to make my relationship with Christ something that I just check off my list and neither should you.
Because when I allow Him in, when He truly becomes the Lord of my life, when a true union occurs between Him and me, – when I hand my life entirely over to Him – a sweetness like none here on earth pervades all my life. I want Him to have all of me!