The two questions I am asking myself this morning is: What is my faith costing me? What am I not willing to give for the sake of Christ?
What is my faith costing me right now? Well, several hours a day and a few meals at a restaurant so I don’t take advantage of their internet and table service. I work at a church, but I get paid for it. I buy a book every once in a while that I read and destroy with highlighters. Is that all? Really? That’s what I can come up with.
What in my life am I not willing to give for the sake of Christ? That’s a really hard question to answer, especially since I have not actually had to sacrifice that much (comparatively speaking). In theory, I would go home, sell everything I had, move away forsaking friends and family, and follow God. I honestly think I would, if I knew that it was God speaking. The problem, however, is that following God isn’t always just like this: angel appears, obedience happens, and hurrah for human! It’s about reading His Word, coming to know Him and His heart, and following the leading in our spirit to do or not do certain things. Sometimes we have to take a step out in faith in pursuit of God. I did that with my semester in the Dominican Republic. I wanted to know God, so I decided I was going to go out and find Him. And, by golly, I did. Messed up my life. And that’s a good thing.
Sometimes I wonder about the whole “assurance” thing. I know that I pretty much thought I was insane for the first couple weeks at least that I was in the Dominican Republic. What did I get myself into? However, as I remained faithful to my purpose in going there and spent time in prayer and relying on the God I certainly hoped and trusted was there, He made Himself real to me and I knew that I was in the center of His will. I didn’t necessarily have that assurance as I was planning the trip, or even as I stepped off the plane in Santo Domingo. I trusted that God would honor the desire of my heart.
Would I have been in the center of His will if I’d have done something else with that semester? I believe I would have been. Although going to that particular place at that particular time has forever changed and marked me, and I have built relationships that will last for eternity, the will of God for my life was that I was seeking Him with all my heart. I just happened to go there. And God honored my desire.
Sometimes, I think, God leads us to do particular things, such as: move to this city, marry this person, jump off this skyscraper (just kidding). I have definitely had things like that happen to me, and the voice of God was pretty unmistakable. The more I look back on it, my summer at Mount Rushmore was very God determined and my obedience there was crucial. That turned out to be a huge turning point in my life. In these instances, I think that God makes Himself pretty clear, and you’d have to turn Him down to disobey Him. However, I don’t think this is always how the will of God works.
I think that sometimes God speaks in a gentle whisper, a silent discontent in our hearts and a longing for more. The will of God is that we respond by turning to Him in whatever capacity that means for us. For me, that usually means I have to do something very decisive, that requires my time, energy, and focus. This season of Lent was that for me. I had to literally stop my life so I could focus in on the voice of God, and it has been transformational. Some people may just need to dedicate an hour more to hearing God. I don’t know what the call of God is on others; I can only really speak from my experience. But nevertheless, the will of God may not be a predetermined step one, step two, step three but more of an attitude of “I’ll do whatever it takes, God, to stop and hear what You have to say to me.” In these instances, I really believe that God blesses and ordains whatever it is that the person decides to do.
My friend is going through a time of decision-making, and struggling with what the will of God is. I totally understand that, and it’s hard in this world to know what “sacrifice” means. Our culture says that going to church is a sacrifice, and oh my goodness it can be painful to wake up before noon on a Sunday morning, but “because I love You, Jesus, I guess I’ll do it.” There are those of us who get really frustrated by this lukewarm faith and seek how we can “give our everything” to God. This is so counter-cultural and foreign to seemingly everyone around us, and we can spend so much of our time reeling in the uncertainty of what to do. I guess, in my prayer time with God, I have just a little advice to give to my friend.
The purpose of our life (contrary to what we learn in church sometimes) is to be in relationship with God. That is why Jesus died: to restore our relationship to Him. Whatever we do for God comes second to our relationship WITH Him. We do not save the world. Jesus did that, and still does that. He uses us, but it is no accident that He always does it in situations that are far beyond our ability so the glory can go to Him, because He’s the One who deserves it anyway. Until we have tapped into this “love and peace that surpasses all understanding”, I’m not sure that all the human “sacrifice” in the world means anything. It basically amounts to good people doing good things, and making the world a “better” place, and that’s not bad. But Jesus has bigger plans, and He can do bigger things with our lives when we have truly fallen in love with Him. It is then that His passion flows through us and His love can’t be missed. He must become greater, we must become less. So, all this to say, I would tell you this: Do whatever it takes to KNOW GOD MORE. Fall in love with Him. Seek for His heart and your heart to become ONE. Then, through your life that He has transformed, He will guide and direct you in powerful ways, and this world will never be the same.