I climbed in bed in the wee minutes of the new day. Words from my sweet friend’s letter penetrated my heart through the darkness. I hated to admit it, but she was right. my flesh didn’t want to face the truth, but my conscience spoke softly, “She is right.” Just hours earlier in church we sang the words, “Refiner’s fire, my hearts one desire is to be holy, set apart for you Lord, I choose to be holy, set apart for You my Master, ready to do Your will.” And just that morning, our youth pastor spoke on Matthew 16:21-28}}
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his lifewill lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
I knew what God was trying to tell me. I knew it was a painful decision to make, with consequences on both sides. I had to choose between Christ, my everylasting God and Savior and Comforter, and the temporary things of the world. A quote by Pastor Joe Blankenship came to mind: Sometimes you have to give up the things you like for the Thing you love. Boy, did that break my little heart. I knew I couldn’t have both. It was one or the other.
Tears streamed down my face as I crawled out of bed to the floor. I was helpless, but not hopeless. A little broken, but not shattered. Lonely, but not alone. Confused, but not bewildered. I knew I had to give the things I cherised to follow Him. Father, I prayed, I’m trying not to ask “Why?”. I know You are here with me. You gave up everything for me because you loved me. But why do I? Oh, Lord, forgive me. Help me. strengthen me. I can’t do this on my own! All of my dreams and things I cherish–I must return them to You, their rightful owner.
In those minutes, I came to realize what the cost if for following Christ. I live in America, in a very liberal and tolerating part of the country. There is little chance that I would be anything but be thought as weird for following Christ, let alone martyred. Yet there is still a cost. A cost that is much more personal but much less visible. But Christ is the pearl of great price. He is worth everything I love, everything I hold near, for the sake of following.
When I became saved, I was actually giving up one thing I liked for Him. I had the Bible knowledge and had attened the same church since I was born. I knew the Gospel. But I didn’t have Christ. It took a mericiful breaking from God for me to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Him. But I had no idea that I’d have to continually do it. I thought it was merely being willing to die for Him. And I was. But I wasn’t always willing to give up things for Him.
Oh, it is painful. Not as painful as the things others have given up because of their love for God. Each hour I am reminded of what I am “laying down at the cross” for His sake. My flesh says, “No! No! Take it back!” but I know better.
What things must you give up for His sake? Is there anything hindering you in following Him? I challenge you, dear friend, to ask yourself these questions. To fight your flesh and to give it up to Him and for Him. Why? Because He is worth it all.