Midway into an hour long conversation, the Holy Spirit gently revealed the truth of crippling frustration for this young girl in ministry. Watery eye contact was replaced with the top of her head as she hunched over and hid beneath dark strands of shame. After a few minutes of silence, a whisper seeped out from behind her iron curtain, “I don’t know if I want to ever love someone that deeply. I feel my vulnerability and it’s scary.”
I deeply admired her for sharing the truth, but she was at a crossroads that every Christian, especially those who desire to serve Him, must face. Despite her youth, she had already been in ministry for several years and managed to keep multitudes of people at least an acre away from her heart.
She loved without risk, served without discomfort, and worshipped with little sacrifice. And today…God’s love led her to make a crucial decision which would affect every area of her life.
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” ~ Luke 9:24 (emphasis mine)
I don’t know how many sermons I’ve heard, nor how many times I’ve read this verse, but the Lord taped my eyes to the word “life”, so I dug out my concordance…and was cut to the core. In my mind, I have always thought Jesus was saying that the condition of my following Him is to be willing to die physically, but that is only the shallow end of this invitation. Instead, the word life means “the inner self; the soul; the essence of what is in a person’s heart and mind.” The word save means “to keep safe; preserve; rescue from destruction; restore to health.” And finally, the word lose means “to put to death; render useless.”
Then the red letters of my Bible became personal. “If you want to truly follow Me, Shannon, and you desire to be whole; healed in your thought life and from your “heart” damage; you want to be kept safe and protected from the things that can destroy the deepest places of your soul, then YOU MUST put to death and render useless your own desires, goals, passions, and motivations.”
Jesus’ love will speak the strongest challenges to the hardest wills in order to bring out the character of His Son.
It means that on a daily basis, the “deny yourself” command of Luke 9:23 says:
- I stop telling the Lord what I will not do, where I will not go, what I will not sacrifice, nor will let go of, and then label it “grace” and “my liberty in Christ.”
- Likewise, I do not do anything I desire nor go anywhere I want, and label it “my calling” or “my ministry.” (See 2 Sam. 7)
- When my actions stumble a brother or sister, I won’t get defensive and blame their immaturity or weakness, but look at it as a chance to honor the Lord and show love to them.
- It means that if I don’t want my heart to be shattered beyond repair, I’ll drop my shields and surrender it to the Lord to be broken for His glory and purposes.
- It means that freedom can be hidden in divine limitations and joy can be found in tragic circumstances…because we finally realize the truth of God’s promise in Psalm 16:8: “I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.”
In the midst of a world that encourages you to “find yourself” for peace and life, the Lord says to “lose yourself” for that and more. Render your own thoughts, plans, natural desires and passions useless and empty, while reaching, stretching, yearning and embracing the life, loves, thoughts and intentions that the Lord has for you. Even if you’re scared to do it…do it. Even if you’re terrified of the consequences…it’s why you were made. Even if you are rejected or have to walk the days out alone…you are never alone with the trinity of His Presence as your reward.
He understands that what seems to be a dangerous risk to you, is actually the disguised doorway of the abundant life He desires to give.
You cannot lose anything worth keeping, when you lose everything for Him.
“He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” Rev. 21:7