The last couple of weeks the Father has been all over me about what it truly means to follow Him. I’ve found myself reading David Platt’s book, Radical, as well as Katie Davis’ blog, Kisses from Katie, and I’ve personally found both very convicting. You should check out each of these items if you haven’t heard of them before. There are a variety of issues that I feel like the Lord is speaking to my heart through these avenues, but one idea I can’t get rid of is the concept of what it might (and should) truly cost us to follow the Son. I’m afraid the church culture in America has lied to us far too often about being a follower of Him.
“God wants you to be happy”
“The safest place you can be is in the center of God’s will”
“He is going to bless you for serving Him”
“He knows how much that means to you and He wouldn’t ask you to give that up”
“He knows your personality and He wouldn’t ask you to do something like that”
I can’t tell you how many times in the last year or so I have heard many of these things and others like them said to me. Not that these things don’t have some element of truth in them, but one thing is for sure – you won’t find any of these sayings or even their implications in scripture. How often do we say things like this to ourselves or to each other to justify a life of halfway serving Him, to justify our own comfortableness and complacency? Even living here, others doing the same work that I am doing have said things to me such as “You have already given up so much to be here, you shouldn’t have to give up (x,y,z) as well,” or “You just have to have (x,y,z) or do (x,y,z) to survive here, you just have to.” And those are direct quotes. Seriously? Yet again, I don’t find those concepts in the Word.
As I read even this morning in Phillipians, in two different places Paul talks about the privilege we have to suffer with Christ – that it has been granted to us. Now, I would be lying to you if I said that I had actually suffered much over here. Sure, I miss my family and friends and a lifestyle that I know and that is difficult, but I don’t think I have had one true moment of discomfort. Maybe riding down that horrid dirt road is uncomfortable and makes me ache all over and maybe when they force feed me strange food I want to hurl, but true discomfort…none. I haven’t missed a meal yet and I sleep in a very comfortable bed in a very comfortable house every night and I am so grateful for those things. But, when we start saying that such things are what we deserve or need or have to have or even what God wants us to have, there we have a problem.
A prayer I pray almost every day is “Lord, please don’t let me leave here the same way I came. Don’t leave me like I am. Help me to learn from my time here.” Then I almost have to laugh out loud because that is probably the easiest prayer God has ever been given to answer. How could I live here and stay the same? I think it would be virtually impossible. Yet, my prayer is that He would continually tear down the lies I have told myself and which I have believed and continually unveil the truth of who He is and the call He has placed on this life. That He wouldn’t let me become hardened to the uncomfortable things here and justify a life sheltered away from them. That He would change my heart to be broken by the things that break His and to daily long for more of who He is. That is my prayer.
I am certain that He is not through working all of this out in me and probably never will be till the day I die, but the process has now begun. It is going to mean many different things for many different people to follow the Son, but let us not lie to ourselves and set limits or rights or happiness on where He might lead us to follow. And we just might be underestimating what it will cost us to follow Him like He requires in order that others might hear of His name. One thing is for sure, where He leads us He will go also and what we will gain in relationship with Him and the knowledge of who He is and what it means to serve Him will far outweigh anything we have given up to do so.