Friday, October 3, 2008

Leave It All Behind?

If God asked you to sell everything you had, right now, no time to think, just respond, what is your initial response. Are questions running through your mind, like, Why? When?, Is that really necessary?, How will I take care of myself or my family?, Pay the bills?, Where would I sleep?, Eat, etc? We might feel a bit queasy, huh? Up to this point it was somewhat easy to follow God or maybe we had nothing so nothing equals nothing so we could more easily see responding favorably to God's request. Maybe you were raised in a family that modeled a level of surrender to Christ so you by nature of the family you were raised in learned to submit and sacrifice to a degree. BUT what happens when God asks you for all you got? I have just recently been in a situation like that where I was feeling pretty good about my spiritual accomplishments and some sacrifices I have made as a result of getting closer to God.

On a day back in August, I will never forget the day because I had a moment like the young man in Luke 18:18-24 when Jesus spoke to a rich young man. The rich man wanted to know what he could do to inherit eternal life. This young man had it made financially. When I read it, it almost made me think that eternal life was going to just be another trophy this man wanted to claim to put on his mantle. Jesus knew what was in this man's heart so HE started off with some things the man had done successfully. I can picture this guy holding a clipboard in his mind saying, "check" after everything Jesus told him he must do to inherit eternal life.

I think we do that sometimes...I go to church faithfully, I attend Bible study in the middle of the week even though I am worn out, I serve in a ministry at the church that I know wouldn't make it without me, the neighbors' kids come to my door every other day asking if they can eat over, so that's helping the less fortunate, right? And the list goes on and on. We may even do all of this with a wonderful attitude and we feel pretty good about ourselves. Unfortunately, like the young rich man this is not going to cut it. Jesus said to the young man, "There is still one thing you haven't done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. THEN come follow me."

OUCH! That had to hurt. Sounds like Jesus is asking him to put something off to add something different on. Can you just feel how that cut so deep and how this guy instantly became sad. He didn't have to think about what Jesus said, he knew he was rich, he knew how to add and subtract and this was a big subtraction Jesus wanted him to make. I am not so sure that it would have mattered how much the man had.

As I look around my apartment, at my furniture, clothes and shoes, it could be a challenge to sell it all and walk away with what is on my back. Can any of you say it would not cause a pause in the conversation? I can hear us now, well, Lord, did I hear you right? I can't make my ends meet and you want me to give to the poor or help another believer out...what about me! Let me pray about this some more 'cause I would hate to be hasty in this decision, and so on. I can identify with the man's feelings.

God may not ask us to sell everything to follow Him but I do believe that if we are to follow Him our mindset should be more like Paul's when he says in Philippians 3:8, Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.(NLT) Praise God HE hasn't asked everyone to literally sell everything but my question to you today is...Can you let it all go? We try to take all of our "stuff" from our worldly success on the job, our bios in ministry, our accomplishments and who we know with us everywhere we go, to prove to others that we are somebody.

What is interesting is that just like us, this man was standing in the face of God and didn't even realize it. How do you ask God, who owns all, controls all, knows all, etc. what will I do and how will I get by. If HE asks us to give something up, HE's got us.

Anyway, my conversation with God led me down a path where I was willing to let go of all things. As I looked around my apartment I knew that I could let it go. I even talked to my girls about it and asked them if they could let go of what we have to follow Christ somewhere and we didn't know where. I gave specific details of what that would look like and they said yes...I tell you to love Christ like a child!

As time went on and I had prayed more, God said to me, ok now that you are willing to leave all the other "stuff" behind, there is one thing that you still have not done...YIKES! I was terrified at what was going to be said next. I, like the young man, knew what it took for me to die to self in these area and be willing to have to move in with someone, not have space for all the clothing and shoes and no privacy....WHEW! God said to me, I want you, all of you. I almost passed out, 'cause just as quickly as that young man became sad, I went there with Him. What more could God have wanted?? Things like… you still control "you", you have done great at not controlling others, I am proud of your growth but will you give me you? This meant all my personal preferences don't come into play anymore when HE asks me to do something.

Please tell me ya'll can feel me right now:) I have to be honest with you and tell you that I wasn't feeling this the slightest bit. Because for me this meant that HE could allow harm to come to my children, HE could allow a family member to die, HE could do all the things that God can do, to grow any of us. I acted like, if I don't say yes to God it was going to control what HE could and couldn't allow into my life. Silly me! I think I pouted for a while. Finally, I surrendered, I cried, I felt my wretchedness in the presence of a Holy God! Who am I! I let it go, I realized I wasn't capable of holding onto something myself anyway. Had I just committed idolatry...Yes. Had I just made myself equal to God...Yes. I was a mess.

I, like Paul, beg you today by the mercies of God (because of all His blessings) that you present yourselves as a living sacrifice (alive and doing His will daily, carrying your cross) holy (set apart for Him) and acceptable (living in right standing with Him) unto Him (for Him only), which is your reasonable (not considered extreme or excessive) service.

WOW! HE is not asking too much! You know how the enemy tricks us into believing it is so hard to do what God asks?? Now I am not going to blame it all on the enemy, actually, we play our part first. We don't keep good records of all God has done for us, our families, etc. Some of us were told we would never have a baby and here she/he came, some of us were told we would amount to nothing and here we are bigger and better than ever, some of us almost died or should have died and we are still alive and kickin'. You know what God has brought you through, saved you from, and kept in spite of. Because we don't keep clean, clear, updated records of who God has been is our lives we allow the enemy to minimize God's value in our hearts.

Take some time to think back over your life and see how God has shown His love to you and it will be much easier to surrender, ALL. Where else is there to go? Who else is greater to follow? Ask God what is standing between you and Him.

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