I’m learning that walking with Jesus means having your life constantly flipped upside down and reexamined.
During my World Race, I discovered a new countercultural lifestyle of surrender. I reached a place where giving up everything and anything I had became my new normal. I grew accustomed to surrendering my physical body to hard labor for ministry work or a failing immune/digestive system. I started to anticipate the goodbyes at the end of every month; they never got easier, but I got better at dealing with them. (It still stings when I think about them.) I went through five different teams during the eleven months, and had to learn that I couldn’t even count on the people around me to be consistent. Customs varied, weather fluctuated, time changed, clothing dwindled (and stunk), tummies grumbled, food differed…the list goes on.
Constant change evolved from a cold shock of water into a way of life. It grew slowly up around me like tendrils of warmth from a fire after a cold day.
Then when I returned to the US, God told me to stay.
“Excuse me. What?”
“Learn the sacrifice of staying.”
“Sacrifice? PSH! Pu-lease. Sacrifice is in giving up everything; not staying.”
“Giving up everything and going anywhere is your new comfort zone. Now you need to learn how to stay.”
I didn’t understand, and ended up responding somewhere along the lines of a teenager “conceding” and yelling, “FINE THEN!” while slamming my door and pouting on the other side mumbling angry things to myself.
Jesus does this beautiful thing where he warns you how hard something will be before you actually step into the challenge. He warned me this would be an incredibly difficult season. Satan just tells you his way is wonderful at face value, and then later you’re wondering how you crashed and burned and get disappointed, because you weren’t expecting it. Jesus, however, says, “This will challenge, stretch and grow you, and you’re probably going to hate it, BUT it will be good.”
At least he’s honest.
What does it mean to sacrifice everything and stay?
For me? It means to love with complete abandon, and expect nothing in return, which involves more risk when you must stay.
I have a wild, reckless, unrestrained heart guarded by Yahweh from the righteousness of Jesus Christ. My breastplate is unchangeable and unbreakable. Even when a swift kick to the chest knocks the wind out of me, my heart stays pure and whole behind the righteousness of Jesus. I will not be shaken. (Ephesians 6:14; Psalm 62:5-6)
So what have I sacrificed? You’re asking what I’ve secretly given to God out of my love for him, and that list is too intimate for the internet. But I can tell you that although each piece ripped away from me hurts; it was all worth it. (James 1)
Living for Christ isn’t just a single moment of admitting a life sacrifice to him; it’s a constant process of surrendering (2 Corinthians 3:18). As humans, we do this horrible thing where we keep resorting to what we want and what we see as best and what fits our desires the most. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
And the scary part about that is, if you aren’t listening, you may miss how far away you’ve wandered from God, who is always speaking. If you’ve stopped hearing him, he didn’t stop talking; you stopped listening. (Job 33:14)
Turn around. Ask him where he is. He WANTS to help you return to him (Revelation 3:20). Anything in addition to that or subtracted from that statement is a lie. Don’t agree with the lies. Denounce the lies; speak the truth; find out what direction God is calling you. (2 Corinthians 11:14; Ephesians 6:11; Isaiah 54:17; James 4:7)
But don’t think it will be easy. It’s going to be hard. But it’s good. That’s a promise.
Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the heavenly prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude. And if in any respect you have a different attitude, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us stay true to what we have already attained.