We Americans are in charge of our lives; we get to choose our goals and go after them with all that is within us. But when Jesus calls us to follow Him, we have to look at who we are, how we think, what our priorities are in order to see what stands between us and God. So, as we have agreed with Jesus that He can now lead us to the fulfillment of who we were created to be, we now have to give up these issues one-by-one. Many of them come under the category of “I’m in charge of my life!” So how do we deal with this thinking, “my way or the highway!” and the desire to love God and to follow Jesus?
Jesus deals with us over time; one issue at a time is highlighted in us so that we can lift it up to God asking that He will heal us and free us so that we can love and follow Him in a better way. Given our culture and its hold on us, this is a long process, but one in which we are fully supported by the Lord, so that we are not alone in this process. Over time, we begin to feel lighter and lighter as we take on the Lord’s direction and give up the world’s burdens. Jesus did tell us that “my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Matthew 11:28-30). In addition, as more time passes, we begin to sense the rise of the fruit of the Spirit within us(Galatians 5:22-23): our ability to love, to be at peace, to live in joy, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and humility grows and grows. And then the Lord shows us what our purpose in this lifetime is to be. And, as we follow His suggestion, we begin to experience real gratitude and the blessing of pursuing the purpose that was specifically designed for each of us.
It is how we get through that intermediate stage of giving up all that stands between us and God that needs our attention. For me, the changes that God brought into my life as the healing began and continued really challenged me. I wanted to know why something was happening to me before I could consent to it. “Why? why? why?” was my focus early on. My resistance to what was not on my agenda was high. Finally, I realized that the why didn’t matter. This thing was in my life and I needed to deal with it. Interestingly, my suffering went way down when I began to surrender to what was already in my life. And I was shocked to see that I was the major contributor to my own suffering. After seeing that, I was able to surrender pretty much as soon as I recognized what was happening in my life.
The Lord is not promising that we’ll go to heaven without any problems or challenges along the way. We learn so much more from adapting to the challenges in our lives than we ever learn from the blessings. And that is the process: as we take in the lessons that God provides us in these challenges, we are becoming more able to love and to serve Him, more able to love everyone we meet, more able to express God’s love in tihs world. Growing and changing and learning new ways of being are all built into God’s plans for us humans. And what a blessing that is!
Questions to ponder over the week: Have you realized that so much of what our culture teaches us as we grow up is actually burdensome for us? Have you given up any of those burdens? Or have you clung to what you were always taught? How is surrendering to God’s will for you? Do you resist it like I did?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who follow Jesus without arguing and refusing to surrender to God’s will. May we be grateful for the blessings and the challenges in our lives.
Check out my two websites: patsaidadams.com and deepeningyourfaith.com. Every blog post I have written in the last 15 years is available on these two websites, organized by topic.
- I am giving away a 10-week journaling guide to Jesus’s Two Great Commandments. If you are interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will email 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.