Ever had a thought that just will not leave you alone? I'm having one of those now. I mean, this thing is relentless! I just can't get it out of my head, or heart, for that matter. It's something that I used to think was entirely too difficult to carry out, but the more life I live, the dearer it becomes to me.
It's the notion of death to self, particularly in the area of what I own, or what I think I have the "right" to own. I, like many others, have dealt with the struggles associated with trusting in money and possessions to make life live-able. However, we see countless instances in the New Testament where Christ tells us to chuck that theory out the window and to get down to a real, dirty life walk with Him.
The main text I'm talking about at this point is found in Mark 10:17-31. It's the story of the rich young ruler. You know it well, I think, but let's recap briefly: a rich young man runs to Jesus, bows at His feet, and asks what he can do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responds that he must keep the commandments, which the young man says he has done since his youth. Then Jesus looks on him with love and tells him to sell his possessions, give the money to the poor, store up treasure in heaven, and to follow Him. Sadly, the man walks away because of his love of and entanglement in his many costly things.
What's the deal here?! Why does this guy not just do what Jesus says? Well, hindsight is 20/20, right? And to be perfectly frank, those of us with cool stuff have a hard time trusting that God will give us what we need. If you think about it, there are a lot of "Christian" zombies out there...the kind who take the easiest step (that is, giving away our souls to Jesus for eternal life), but who have not done the harder thing (i.e., getting rid of our stuff so we aren't hampered down as we follow the path Christ laid out for us).
Don't be fooled, though. The problem is NOT in having the things. The problem is loving them. You see, Jesus knew (and still knows) that when we are surrounded by certain things/elements, we're likely to enjoy them for the sake of comfort or for the sake of mere survival. Humans are fickle. We see glittery objects (or in my case, guitars, amps, and pedals), and we tend to think "I've got to have that!" Snare #1. Then, we step right into the real deal Snare #2 by getting so involved with them (or money) that we can't see a reason to trust God first in our lives. I'll give you an example that recently took place with me and my band.
We just helped lead worship at an event called Momentum in Hickory, NC. We opened for some "big name" bands; Remedy Drive, Brandon Heath, Britt Nicole, and Third Day, as well as rockin' the stage with our good friends from The Outpouring and 7Miles. It was an awesome event and we felt the presence of God's Spirit hovering over the people. Amazing is a good word for it.
We were promised payment as a band. Keep in mind, we'd never been paid for this event in the past 3 years that we'd been on the lineup. However, this year looked hopeful, and we, as individuals in Elishah, had already budgeted according to what we were to be paid.
Momentum came...Momentum went. No money for Elishah. But check this out.
We had two options: get upset, which, sadly, most people in our position would have done, because, hey, we gots ta pay da bills, too, ya know? Or, we could take it in stride because God was not caught off guard by this instance, and since He is indeed in control of all things, He knows what we need and will provide it. HE IS OUR PROVIDER, NOT OUR PAYMENT! What a lovely truth to live by. When you grasp it, you understand that you're free to do WHATEVER God says, WHENEVER he says to do it, regardless of the cost.
So, God spoke, we listened, and we let go of the "right" we had to demand our payment that had been promised. I want to make it abundantly clear that this instance did not come about because of a man-made mistake. Rather, I believe in my heart of hearts that God initiated it to teach our band something valuable that we had to have as a core value before ever making this a full-time venture. And, in the end, God blessed us more than the mere money would have (because it would have been gone in less than a week anyway) by wiping clean our outstanding debt, and allowing us a free space to breathe in financially. We now have our own trailer, van, website, and all the things that make this ministry go, while we are able now to look forward feasibly at our new record.
Just an easy example, but it says what we all, as Christians, should say at the outset of ANY venture God is in: "I must decrease so He can increase."
I lost my rights to anything when I gave up my life to Christ. Now, to follow Him and be drawn up to the full stature of Jesus, I lay down my trust in the "horses and chariots" of my life, and give my trust wholeheartedly to Jesus.
Hebrews 2 says that Jesus tasted death for everyone BY GRACE. It was God's plan for Him to die so we could live. It's time to reciprocate. Let us die to ourselves, our trusts, our rights, our money, our ideas of success and comfort, and let us do it so Christ can truly live and accomplish in and through us.
And while we meditate on these things, let us remember the first verse of that same chapter, so as not to forget what Christ wants and is teaching us:
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.