You may not like what I am about to confess … there are days when I wonder if it’s worth it all!
Belonging to Christ, giving Him first place in life, makes demands of me that I’ll admit go counter to what I want. From time to time I struggle with the fact that I am not my own. Christianity is certainly not all pain and misery. I have known blessings and joy, to be sure. However, I serve at His command. My choices are not shaped by what makes me most happy today, what produces the most money, or what allows my ego free rein. This is not a complaint, it is just the reality of being His disciple.
Jesus’ own disciples wondered much the same thing as I occasionally do. They questioned the cost of the way of life to which He called them. Peter ‘reminded’ Jesus- “We left everything we owned and followed you, didn’t we?” (Luke 18:28, The Message) Unspoken was the question, “What is the reward?” If you are a serious disciple, if you are fully engaged with the work of God’s kingdom, Self must die, along with the pursuit of pleasure in this present world. Again, I must say, it is not all misery, but it is costly.
You may, especially in times of fatigue or disappointment, be tempted to adopt the same complaint as the Psalm writer offered up when he compared his life to that of the godless. “They seem to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong. … These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for! … Look at these wicked people— enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply. Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?” (Psalm 73:12-13, NLT)
The man who wrote those words found renewal only after he surrendered himself to the will of God and found a place of true worship. In that place, he saw the truth that was temporarily eclipsed by his inner conflict. “You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” (Psalm 73:24-26, NLT)
Are you struggling with the call of Christ, the commitment He asks of you?
Does it seem beyond you to set aside your pleasure, to give away your treasure, to forgive that person who has deeply wounded you?
Is some part of you clamoring for satisfaction, resisting the choice of denying Self?
Two things are important to remember.
First, worship is important. I am not just talking about ‘going to church.’ Each day we need to hit that inner reset that comes when we turn off the phone, step away from the pressures, and contemplate the Person of the One we serve. Maybe it will be a song we listen to that helps us to catch sight of His love. Perhaps it will be taking a walk in the night and gazing at the stars that leads us to awe. Or may sink to our knees in a quiet place and simply breathe a desperate pray and invite the Spirit to give us back the wonder. But, worship we must!
Second, we keep in mind that our life does not end at the grave. The life of the disciple does not add up without including eternity! Yes, in Jesus we find peace and purpose and most days that is enough. But, then comes those times when we just have to keep choosing to swim against the current. Times come when we give and give and there is no apparent reward. Our best effort goes unnoticed, our deepest sacrifice produces nothing – so it seems! “You are guiding me to a glorious destiny!” The consistent theme of Paul, Peter, and John is the reminder of a time that will come when we will party like there is no tomorrow — because there will not be one. We will be home, forever, to celebrate in the Father’s House.
Here is a word from the Word. Jesus spoke it to His friends as part of that long conversation about His leaving them to carry on His work. May the promise keep you – and me! – in a place of faithful, joyful service.
“Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the
anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (John 16:19-22, NIV)
Same song as yesterday … it’s a good one!
(listen at this like)
I’ve been held by the Savior
I’ve felt fire from above
I’ve been down to the river
I ain’t the same a prodigal returned
All my hope is in Jesus
Thank God that yesterday’s gone
(Yes) All my sins are forgiven
(Oh I’ve) I’ve been washed by the blood
(Come on and sing)
I’m no stranger to prison
I’ve worn shackles and chains
But I’ve been freed and forgiven
And I’m not going back I’ll never be the same
That’s why I sing
There’s a kind of thing that just breaks a man
Break him down to his knees
God I’ve been broken more than a time or two
Yes Lord then He picked me up and showed me
What it means to be a man
Come on and sing
David Crowder | Ed Cash © 2016 Inot Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
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