Giving Up Your Life
March 15, 2011 in The Pursuit of Real Life
Jesus said that “a person must lose their life to find it” and it’s recorded six times in all four Gospels. Evidently, this was an important concept that Jesus was trying to get across. What does it mean? How often do you think about what you’d like your life to look like – the type of job you feel you should have, the amount money you’d like to have to be comfortable, how the people in your life would treat you? There’s a gap between the reality of our lives and the way we wish they were. This gap produces the disappointment, anger, and depression that most people experience every day of their lives to one degree or another. Do you find yourself daydreaming about some point in the future when God will fix all of this? Are your prayers about Him changing your circumstances? And how do feel when God doesn’t give you the things you ask for and do the things you expected Him to do? There’s the key word – expected. Expectations will keep us in a state of frustration and disappointment constantly unless we do something proactively to stop it. I’ll talk about this in detail in the post “Taking Thoughts Captive”. For now let’s talk about the terms we have about our lives.
I’ve learned recently that I have been living life on my terms for over 50 years. 30 years of ministry have been done according to what I have designed as to how I would serve God. My motives were out of love for what God has done for me on the cross but still I was the one leading. Jesus said to “deny yourself and follow me” (Luke 9:23) and that His sheep know His voice and follow Him (John 10:1-18, verse 4). Oswald Chambers likes to describe this as “giving up our rights to ourselves”. The way we look at our lives and how God answers our prayers are based on our expectations of a particular outcome. We look up ahead and visualize an outcome but very rarely if ever does it actually turn out that way. Then we evaluate this scenario as a “failure” because it didn’t turn out the way we thought it should. If you think about it for a moment, we were projecting an outcome that wasn’t real. It’s a fantasy, a facade, an imagination. Then when we get up there, we’re disappointed, disillusioned or even angry at the actual outcome. God wants us to give up this projection of the outcomes of our lives. He wants us to “lose” our lives so that we can engage Him in “real” life. Isn’t it interesting that He calls Himself “I Am”. Present tense. Right here, right now. This is where you can engage me. He wants us to let go of our right to having life on our terms. We conduct our relationships, our ministries, and our careers from the perspective of our plans. God has a plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11) but He can only lead us toward it if we are willing to give up our plan and follow Him. (See Proverbs 3:5-6)