Friday, December 29, 2006

Are You Who You Want to Be?

I was pondering this question a few hours ago this morning and even last night as i struggled to go to sleep? Am I who I want to be? I have, at best, 100 years to live. In the light of eternity...that's nothing..."a breath in the wind." One thing I have learned for sure, especially being here in Africa: living to please me is a foolish mistake. God has set up the absolute perfect scenario in this life, namely, that i can lay my life down, deny myself, so that Christ might live through me and by doing this, I may gain true life. What a paradox? Give up your life in order to gain/experience true life. It is true though. The more i hang on to my self and my rights...the more that endless hunger grows in my spirit for something more, yet the more i let go of my self and surrender to the life of Christ...the more i experience that "abundant life" that the book of John talks about. The determining factor is ALWAYS whether or not i will embrace the physical/temporal suffering. Choosing to deny self is painful! The heart is not quick to give up its toys! I fail every day. I don't always want to give money to people, or live in a place with poor electricity and low water pressure. There are days that i don't want to think about anyone else but myself...have you had those days? The truth is though that i don't have a choice. You see, I've made a committment/ signed my name on this new covenant(agreement) and i can't turn back. The Christian mandate is quite clear in the Bible - Jesus said, "You MUST deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me." Why are so many people confused about Christianity? I believe it's because so many Christians are confused about Christianity! God is not a blessing machine, though He desires to bless us. The Bible doesn't say "come to Jesus and you won't experience another day of trial!" In fact it explicitly says, "as a Christian you will suffer." But that is the joy of it all! We are not suffering in vain, but we choose to suffer because we know it is revealing the face of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who came and demonstrated true "denial of self." I believe God brought me here to Africa so that I could GET OVER MYSELF! What i have begun to experience though is that as I choose (out of voluntary love for Jesus) to deny myself, I am suddenly filled with an awareness of truth that satisfies everything. He came to show us the better way. I used to dream of being a hero. The guy who everyone looked at and said, "what a guy!" Now i know who i want to be. I want to be a friend of Jesus. Jesus' friends are those who follow Him and to follow I must deny myself. There is trial. There is hardship. But there is joy and glory beyond any comprehension on this earth. Are you who you want to be? Better yet, are you who God wants you to be? You don't have to be in a third world country to deny yourself. Oftentimes it's harder to do so in your own hometown. Join me in a prayer today...Lord help me to forget about myself and live to please you! I guarantee that if this becomes a prayer from your will find yourself on the road less chosen...the road of Jesus Christ. The important thing is this: Do it for love for the One Who rescued you because He delights in you! One of the purest forms of worship is servanthood...this makes the heart of God smile.