"What if God has given us excess for the salvation of others
and not for the satisfaction of ourselves?"
~ David Platt, The Church at Brook Hills
The same evening that I stumbled upon Katie Davis' blog and book, I also stumbled upon her brief US speaking schedule for the release of the book and to raise funds for her ministry. She was scheduled to speak in Birmingham. In three days. Across the street. Literally, across the street from my home at the Church at Brook Hills. The same church where the Lord had changed my heart and where, just two years ago, I had surrendered my life to Him, made a public profession of faith through baptism and vowed to follow Him. The same church where on the ginormous jumbotrons my ginormous head appeared reciting tidbits of my story and a verse that had become so close to my heart: "I will run in the path of your commands, because you have set my heart free." Psalm 119:32.
Two years later: Running. Check. Path. Check. Commands. Eh... well, some of the time. you know, some of them...
and then i find myself face to face with someone who is so reflecting what it means to live the gospel and to truly follow Christ in both word and deed. selflessly. sacrificially. and i am saddened by the fact that it looks radical, if not slightly crazy. even to me. a believer. a christ-follower. and in the same way that scripture becomes a mirror that reflects who we are, so does our gut level reaction to someone who is willing to sacrifice it all for the sake of the gospel.
i am so thankful for the privilege of hearing katie share her story firsthand. i sat in bewildered, humbled awe of what our God can do with the obedience of just one heart. an amazing story and amazing ministry born out of one simple step of obedience that led to another and another. somewhere between that moment of surrender and the commitment to follow Christ, i have seemingly missed a crucial step. i have failed to step out of what was comfortable and familiar. and in the throes of life, i have continued to make everything, and i do mean everything, about me. or at least, a radius of me: my life, my children, my relationships, my past, my future, my, my, my, me, me, me. amidst the struggles of this life, i have periodically clung to God's promises - for me, for my own benefit. at some point along the way, my eyes and my heart shifted inward instead of outward. i have been so wrapped up in my own life and all that it encompasses, i had long stopped asking how the Lord would have me pour out my life. and isn't that the essence of our sinful hearts? to trust in ourselves rather than in Him. i have been so busy building and rebuilding a life when all the while He has been whispering, "give it all away".
"If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it." ~ Matthew 16:24
"the gospel demands a blank check with our lives. today." that was was the last line in the message notes at the close of today's service. and over the course of the last few life-altering days, i have become wholeheartedly convinced that Jesus doesn't ask us to give up all of the plans and hopes and dreams we have for our own lives.
He demands it.
and so we are to ask ourselves: what is God leading me to SHARE? what is God leading me to SELL? what is God leading me to SACRIFICE?
sharing i was good with. or at least i could be, right. selling and sacrificing. not so much. yet, i already knew the answers, they were already pressing on my heart and moving upward, gathering as the now all-too-familiar lump in my throat. all of the excess in which i have been not-so-cautious in acquiring. all of the things in which i had slowly began to place my security, my identity and ultimately, my pride... i glanced down and right there, in that moment on my person and in my seat sat enough non-essential material possessions to sponsor at least thirty-five children for a year. a year. a year.
it was at this point that i jotted the note above on the tear-off portion of my guide - truth that i already knew in my heart, truth that God had just confirmed through His word and an incredible message. everything needs to change. my whole life has to change. why? because Jesus demands it... and because this love in my heart for Him compels it.
i don't know what it means. i don't know what it is going to mean. i only know that i can no longer live in shades of gray, conforming more to this world and this culture each and every day when my heart and soul desires to be conformed into His image. i only know that i desire to pour out my life for His purpose, His glory and for the pursuit of His presence. i have nothing to offer except what He has to give and my life - a blank check.
"whom have i in heaven but you?
and earth has nothing i desire besides you."