In my mind I can be amazing. I can imagine myself courageously facing intensely difficult situations with grace, brushing off the ashes like they were mere grains of sand on my dry skin. However, things never turn out like you imagine them to be, and you discover in the heat of the fight that things looked much easier from the outside looking in. I have heard it said that the hardest moment is the moment before beginning. I beg to differ. Being a dreamer, that is the easiest moment in the world for me. My battle is consistency in the fight…consistency in faith.
One thing that is consistent in me is surprise – surprise at my weakness. I will push through until I’m blue in the face, but that always seems to happen much more quickly than I anticipated. I have believed and perhaps been told that I find myself in these places because I bite off more than I can chew; that I have a superhero complex. However, the season that I am currently in has me thinking differently.
The last five months in Ambato were some of the richest I have ever experienced spiritually. They were also some of the most difficult. I’m pretty sure that’s a normal correlation. During this time, God revealed to me many things about my future related to my calling and the character that He is developing in me. He was truly preparing me for what was to come. Day after day, I sought Him more and more and He showed me more and more of Himself. As God showed me what He desired from me for March-June, I passed through some deep waters. For three weeks I could not sleep and I had a strange energy. It was scary to me, because I knew there had to be a breaking point sometime. I still don’t fully understand this phase, but I know that God was doing some significant spiritual surgery during those weeks.
And now, I find myself in that season that God was preparing me for, and I realize that all of the struggle and preparation was needed. It is the absolute desire of my heart to respond with “Yes!” to every step of faith that He asks me to take. However, I am discovering that in obedience there is a significant cost. There is hardly a theology that upsets me more than the prosperity gospel, that says God will bless you with everything you want when you choose into following Jesus. The truth is, God is not a “customer is always right” kind of God. He does not buy into consumeristic thinking. He will not try to win your allegiance with bribery. In fact, Jesus turned away people who wanted to follow Him by explaining to them the cost. So before you say “Yes” to follow Jesus wherever He might lead you, count the cost. And by the way, the cost is everything.
I have not regretted for a nanosecond the decision to follow Christ; however, with every new day that comes, I realize in increasing measure the harsh reality of that decision. Though I discover more of His love for me, a love that runs much deeper than I saw the day before, I realize that dying to myself so that Christ might live in me is an extremely painful process, and that I can’t do it. It’s a daily surrender as daily He comes in and forms more of Himself in me. To say to a God to whom nothing is impossible, “I will follow You and be faithful to You wherever You might lead and whatever You might ask,” is a very dangerous statement. However, it’s the only correct thing to say to Him. There is one Way…one Savior…one Truth and in two days we will celebrate His victory over death: the single most important moment in all of human history. And here is His command: “Take up your cross, and follow Me.”
In a society that so values strength, it is hard to understand why the strongest entity in the universe would make Himself weak – so weak that He would be murdered at the hands of mere humans. And it was through that weakness – it was through that death – that Christ was raised in power. It was through Love’s sacrifice that victory could be won. In understanding that, it should not come as a surprise to me that my weakness in the hands of a loving God could be transformed into life and victory. It shouldn’t surprise me that obedience is painful, as I am sure it was painful to die on a cross. It shouldn’t surprise me that I can’t do it, because the goal is that I would die…and that He would live in me. Might I feel the nails and the thorns…might I feel the blows of the whip again and again on my soul as I seek His life and His resurrection. I find myself repeatedly praying these words over my life:
“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 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 and become one with Him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with Himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead. I want to suffer with Him, sharing in His death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:7-11)
I don’t know that there will ever be a moment when obedience isn’t painful. There will probably never come a day when I am comfortable in the calling. However, in all of that, I believe that the decision to say “Yes” does not have to be hard.
I want to be a woman of unshakable resolve and faith that cannot be deterred. I want to be a woman that lets her “Yes” to God be “Yes”. Period. There was a day that I was deeply offended when several people said to me, “I see you as weak.” There were many days following when I determined to prove them all wrong. However, here I find myself once again in the last place I want to be: in weakness; and the dichotomy of it all is that I am exactly where God wants me to be. I am exactly who He wants me to be today.
So may He shine in my weakness. May His glory be ever more glorious in my surrender. May the face of Christ be seen more and more clearly through the gaps of this breaking clay pot. I declare that I can’t, so that He can. I declare that I’m not enough, so that He can be. I declare that I am dying, so that He might live in me. Am I surprised by weakness? Absolutely…Every. Single. Day. However, I continually stand in awestruck wonder at the victory I am seeing. Every. Single. Day.
Now to Him be all glory and power and honor, forever and ever. Amen.