Y’all. You know you’re a parent when you feel like you’re burning the midnight oil sitting at your computer typing…and it’s only 9:42. I’m beat, and really want to go to bed. There’s something in me though that needs to write this. I’ve been putting it off for a few weeks now. Sometimes stuff just feels too big, too heavy, like it literally carries too much weight to unload it in a reasonable amount of characters that won’t scare someone away at the length of it. That’s what God has been doing lately.
After doing all sorts of things in our new hometown to make it feel like home, I was feeling pretty good. I loved the area, our house, our neighbors, our church, our ministry opportunities here. But of course, at the very end of this experiment was when we had our first trip back to Texas scheduled to help with our old church’s student camp. It would mean getting to see family and friends, and spending time in an area that had that “home feel” since the third grade.
And I was nervous.
All to Jesus, I surrender.
The first night of student camp that I was able to attend was great. I managed to make it all the way until worship that evening before I cried like a hormonal pregnant woman. (No mom, I’m not pregnant) I mean I just couldn’t control it. We were singing this song and I looked around to see the faces of people who I had so loved doing ministry with, the sweet 7th (now 8th) grade girls who are a little crazy at times but I love them so, the church leaders who had helped facilitate a major shift in the way I viewed church. I thought about all of the great things about our life in Texas.
And I bawled. A good, ole ugly cry.
When we felt God’s call to move to Colorado, everything happened so fast and there was a lot of excitement in taking such a big leap of faith. Even after making the move, there was so much going on getting settled and starting our roles at our new church that I didn’t really think much about things I missed about Texas. My eyes were fixed on Jesus and what he was doing NOW. And it was good.
However, sitting there in that crowded, Spirit-filled room with a bunch of high school and junior high students, my mind went to the place that I had not been allowing it to go since we made the decision to move. It didn’t just go there. It unpacked, raided the fridge, and made itself at home in the sadness of what WAS.
All to Him I freely give.
That same night, the camp pastor (and my former pastor) spoke of a parable that Jesus taught about a rich, young ruler. This was a story that I’ve never been very fond of, to be honest. I think it hit too close to home and I didn’t like it. You see, this rich man was really good at following the law. He wasn’t a liar or a cheat. He probably went to church every Sunday and spoke kindly to people. In fact, his response to Jesus asking him if he has kept all the commandments is a confident one. If being a rule follower could get this rich man into heaven, then he was set. And that’s what he wanted to know: how can I get eternal life?
What Jesus said next to him always made me cringe a little.
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mark 10:21
It says next that upon hearing this, the man went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Why did this make me cringe in the past? Well, because I have a lot of stuff. Stuff that I don’t want to have to part with. I understood the message Jesus was trying to get across, but I couldn’t help feeling guilty at just how much I related to the rich ruler’s sadness at the mere THOUGHT of giving up my wealth.
And then I got to the point in life when God asked the same exact thing of me. It wasn’t a great amount of monetary wealth we would have to give up, although that would be a part of it. I don’t know if I have the words to express just how good we had it in Texas. Carter had a great job that was only getting better, and was about to have some added perks. We had a church home that we absolutely loved. We were deep into the ministries there, for me especially with the students. I had a group of girls that I adored and envisioned walking with/mentoring from their 7th grade year up until graduation. We had our parents just a few miles away, and a ton of family close by. Our boys had their cousins, who were more like siblings, just minutes away. We looked into the future and saw so many memories to be made. We had great friends at church who all seemed to have kids the same ages as ours (future football/soccer/basketball team? check.) Oh how life was so sweet! We had wealth beyond measure.
But God said,”Go.” Go to a city where you don’t have a job lined up yet. Go minister to a group of people in a place that is unknown to you. Go join a church that you’ve only been to twice.
We freely gave up all of our “wealth,” fixed our eyes on Jesus, and began an awesome adventure. Things were going SO GOOD. I wasn’t even feeling sad! Maybe I wasn’t so much like that rich, young ruler after all.
I will ever love and trust Him.
Of course, there I was back in Texas, feeling anything but happy. I was singing, with tears streaming down my face, feeling very, very sad. We got to a song that said, “My heart is yours. My heart is yours. Take it all. Take it all. My life in your hands.” Those words stung a little as I sang them, raw before God. Suddenly “take it all” didn’t sound as adventurous as it had a few months before. I was finally feeling the weight of what those words meant.
It would have been so easy to just get stuck there, in the sadness of the sacrifice. I’m certain that is what the devil would have wanted. I’m also pretty sure that the rich, young man in the parable got stuck at the part about all he had to give up as well.
It’s funny, even when reading or hearing this Bible story in the past, my mind got so hung up on what Jesus was asking him to sacrifice and give up. I would read those verses and my mind would start going through a list of things that I would not want to lose, habits I wouldn’t want to break, relationships I wouldn’t want to end. I never really made it to the most important part. These four simple, yet powerful words would reach my spirit tonight. They would not return void after all these years of brushing over them.
Then come, follow me.
This night I would understand the meaning of those words. I would understand the life that is found in them. The kind of life that would outweigh the sacrifices on the scale of life every time.
In His presence daily live.
The last part of the song I mentioned above transitioned to an old hymn that we used to sing growing up in church. “All to Jesus, I surrender. All to Him I freely give. I will ever love and trust Him. In His presence daily live.” That is my pursuit: to live a life that is FREELY surrendered to Jesus, no matter the cost.
The beautiful news is that in doing so, I will truly LIVE.
If you are at a crossroads where you have to choose between living for yourself or living for God, or if the sacrifices you think you’ll have to make in order to follow God seem unappealing, I urge you…choose God.
Blessings and Good Night…this momma is going to bed!