Are you willing to follow Jesus and seek a deeper relationship with God? Are you willing to give up what you want for what God wants for you? Do you realize that what you want is so conditioned by the culture and the world that it has nothing to do with who you were created to be? And that it will rarely bring you joy or fulfillment, peace or contentment? As I wrote last week, surrendering to the lessons the Lord challenges us with, brings us peace, a whole lot less suffering, and as we continue to follow His suggestions and absorb the lessons we are to learn, we find that we are living a life of fulfillment and purpose. In this culture where we are to set our agendas and then make them happen at any cost to us or our loved ones, giving up our will in favor of God’s will is an incredible step in our lives toward loving God with all of ourselves. But it is really worth the effort.
What the culture and the world put on us as children is like being boxed in a small container on a ship that we have no control over. It means that we are outer-oriented, always aware of what others are thinking about us, sure that we’re being judged. We worry about how we look, what judgments people are making about us, and so much more. The worst thing about following the world’s ways is that we have no idea who we really are, who we were created to be. Until we approach God and through Him discover our true selves and our purpose in life, we live in a half-way house which is not really ours. We are visitors, tentative people who try to follow all the rules that our culture upholds or we live in total rejection by everyone else if we don’t follow those rules.
If we say yes to God, He will take us on a life-long journey to our true selves, as He created us to be. As He presents issue after issue to us in the challenges we face for us to surrender to Him, and we accept the need to let our worldliness go, we can see/sense the changes in our goals and how we feel about other people. As I’ve written before, each challenge that we face contains a lesson for us to learn. And, as we incorporate those lessons into our lives, we move closer to loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28).
What are these issues that we need to let go of? Check out this list (fashioned by the culture) to live this life:
self-centeredness, outer-oriented, always fitting in
our low self-esteem
what education/work is valuable
our angers, prejudices, judgements of others
no acknowledgement of a deeper, truer self, of what brings us joy
no acknowledgement of our purpose set by God when He created us in the womb
belief in Jesus Christ, but not following Him
having lots of material goods and always wanting more.
This list is built on fear and a deep need to conform to the culture and its ways. There are many layers to each issue in us, and the Lord usually highlights only one at a time. So we will spend the rest of our life letting go of all this very human stuff, in order to be true to our commitment to God.
As we come closer to what God wants for us, we are beginning to love as He loves, without judgment. It’s amazing to see these changes in our lives. Each issue that comes up we turn over to God to heal which transforms our way of being in this world. And He does transform us. More and more as the years go on, we are learning how to be our most natural selves, who we were created to be–in God’s image. Each issue has so much history in us and so many layers to let go of, that it takes us a long time to come into our full presence. But when we do, we feel so complete, so dedicated in gratitude to God. As long as we are in these human bodies, we will have issues, but fewer and fewer every year until the day we die.
As we lift these issues up to the Lord, as He highlights them for us, we can begin to see the fruit of the Spirit take root in us: peace, joy, love, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and humility (Galatians 5:22-23). As these grow in us, we are finally able to love and forgive as God does. We are carriers of His word into the world, to every one we meet, no matter their race, ethnicity, education, profession, or anything else. We are finally able to meet each person as a true child of God, made in His image (Genesis 1: 27). After all, there is less than .01% difference in the DNA of every human being.
Questions to ponder over the week: Do I just believe in Jesus or am I willing to follow Him, too? What would I have to change in my life? What would Ito give up to follow Him? Do I trust Him hugely so that I can follow Him?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who follow Him wherever He would lead us. May we grow daily in our love and gratitude for Him and for all the love and support He gives to us.
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- I am giving away a 10-week journaling guide to Jesus’s Two Great Commandments. If you are interested, email me at email@example.com and I will send it to you, free of charge.
- My latest books, “Called to Help the Poor and Needy” and “A Study Guide to the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount” are now in bookstores and on line. The first is about the more than 2,000 verses in the Bible which detail God’s instructions for caring for those in need. The second is a journaling/pondering guide to Jesus’s most complete sermon.