“Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. ‘Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?’”
Matthew 16:24-26 (The Message)
I talk a lot on my blog about the blessings that God wants to lavish on His children. That becoming a Christ follower isn’t just a “get out of jail free” card. There is so much more to living a life as a believer in Christ than just assurance that we won’t live in hell for all eternity.
However, it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t also talk about some of the “tough” stuff that comes along with being a Christ follower. Once you ask Jesus to be in charge of your life, life doesn’t automatically get easy. Nope! If that was the case, then everyone would be lined up waiting to join the club. Sometimes, it seems, life gets much harder once you make the choice to “lay your life down for Christ” and let Him be in charge.
I put “lay down your life for Christ” in quotes because someone who hasn’t grown up in church all their life or a new believer might be looking at me like, “Oh great, she’s using those big church words again, I’m outta here.” What “lay down your life for Christ” means is simply this – it’s basically giving up control of what you want in life and saying, “Okay, God, I have desires, wishes, wants – but I trust You and what You want for me is better.” It’s really hard to make that choice. It’s easy to say it, “Your will, God, not mine” (that’s the simple part) but the meaning behind it, being able to put actions to your words, is where it gets difficult.
Let me use an easy example to follow: Food. I have a love/hate relationship with food. It’s my “go to” all too often when life gets stressful, exciting, sad…you get the picture. If I choose to give God all of my life, then I need to make sure I include food in that list. Saying to God, “I want You to be in control of my whole life – every part” is easy. Putting that into practice when I’m staring at an Oreo donut from Sweetwater’s when I’m stressed and it would taste so good when God wants me to come to Him to tell Him about my stress instead is when it gets much harder. It’s easy to open my mouth and forget my problems for a while with a yummy donut. It’s harder to resist the “quick fix” but instead go for the long term solution – a closer relationship to God and giving my problems over to Someone who can fix them instead of trying to fix them myself or live in the land of denial. There is a human part of me that is selfish and wants control. “God gives grace, so why not eat the donut (even though I’m full), ask for forgiveness later and then ask God to fix my problem too?” Yes, I could do that but when I deliberately run to something else instead of running to Him, that will hurt Him and cause a rift/break in our relationship. That’s when I have to decide which is more important to me – that donut or a closer relationship with God.
I’m not saying eating a donut is sin. I’m saying when we tell God, “Your will, not mine” sometimes we are called on to make tough decisions: Saying no to that promotion in order to say yes to being home to raise the family God entrusted to you. Trusting God when He promises multiple times in the Bible that He will provide for His children and not to be afraid when the income isn’t there but the bills also don’t go away.
However, when we truly surrender our will to God’s and let Him have full control, something amazing happens. Come back next time and I’ll share what that is.
© Cheri Swalwell 2015