The Christian life is not for lazy cowards. If you’re looking for a laid-back, problem-free, self-indulgent life of pleasure, you won’t find it by following Christ. I would even go so far as to challenge you to find one true believer living out their faith who can remember an extended period of time where they weren’t under some sort of spiritual and/or physical attack. Not to bring the mood down, but this is real life. And, it’s hard.
There is, however, much pleasure in living a life of obedience, trust, and surrender. I know that clashes with the current beliefs of our culture, but I have experienced first-hand the unspeakable joy of offering true worship from a surrendered heart. I’ve tasted God’s limitless grace and His steadfast love, neither of which I deserve. I’ve known His presence and heard His voice comforting me in the darkest of nights. There is, indeed, true and lasting, unparalleled pleasure in living as a blood-bought child of Christ.
On May 3, 2011, God prompted me to surrender my ideals, to long for something way better. I had created a comfortable life for myself and for my family. Life was good. We bought our dream home and spent a small fortune renovating it. We lived in an upscale part of town and drove fancy cars. But, not fully tested in my faith, I had become selfish, lazy and full of pride. Comfort had become my idol.
In the middle of this man-made oasis where I had pitched my tent, God began chipping away at the foundation of my idolatrous heart. And, He did it in such an unusual way. One night while scrolling Facebook, I saw a picture of an orphaned teenager who lived in Haiti. And, in that very moment, God’s voice echoed through the caverns of my soul. “She’s yours. Go get her.”
Adoption wasn’t even on my radar at the time. I was quite satisfied with my three beautiful children. And, quite honestly, I was plenty busy mothering the three of them. I didn’t need another mouth to feed. And, I wasn’t sure I could love anyone else the way I loved my own. But, God had birthed the most beautiful plan for our lives many years prior. And, what He was now calling us to, He also was preparing us to accomplish.
So, with arms stretched heavenward, I uncurled my fingers and handed Him my idol – the comfortable life I had created. I asked him to take it all if that’s what He needed to do. I asked Him to change my desires, my goals, my aspirations, my dreams, my ambition… Whatever He needed to do to make me more like Himself and to carry out His plan for my life.
If you’ve ever asked God to do the same thing in your life, you probably have a good idea of what happened next; and I imagine you’re cringing just a bit for what I’m about to share. But, because you know this same God, you also might guess the end result. You know that no matter what happens, if God is steering the boat, the waves can not sink you. Yes, you’re gonna get wet. And, did we ever. Soaked to the bone.
I won’t go into all the details. Some of them are simply too private to share. But, I will tell you that since I prayed that prayer, my husband went through four job losses, we lost our “dream” home and our savings account, we’ve memorized each picture hanging on the wall of multiple doctor’s offices, our marriage has been severely tested, our children have given us every reason to wish we’d remained celibate all these years, our adoption was an almost four-year-long pregnancy full of just about every complication, and what hair we have left is way more salt than pepper now. But, that was then. That was the eye of the storm. And, we survived.
It’s hard to admit it when the waves are still crashing overhead, but the storms we face as committed Christ-followers, really are all good. For the heart that truly believes, trials are the magnifying lens that expose the depth of our dependency. Turbulence blows the cover off of our idols and our hidden sins. And suffering opens wide the door for repentance and restoration. Because of these, our gaze is directed back to the foot of the cross.
How’s your forecast looking, Friend? If you find yourself in the thick of it, hold fast to His promises. They are the lighthouse guiding you to safety.
Here are just a few of them:
- God is always loving, and He is always good. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Ps.107:1)
- He never leaves us to ride out the storm alone. “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut. 31:8)
- We each get a survival kit. “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Pet.1:3)
- Troubles are temporary, but their reward is eternal. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Cor. 4:17)