Growing up, I prayed myself to sleep countless nights. Tucked under my double wedding ring quilt, I would tell God my hurts and my hopes until somewhere in the conversation I drifted off to sleep.
I don’t remember the details of those prayers, but there’s one part I prayed over and over that I remember clearly. With all the sincerity of an 8-year old and then tween girl and later teen, I’d tell God I would follow Him anywhere. Anywhere you want to send me God. Just please don’t make me be a missionary.
I actually loved missionaries. I loved reading their stories on the pages of my GA booklet. I loved when they visited our church and Sunday night service was an update from the field along with a slideshow of the people and places where they lived. I loved giving my coins at Vacation Bible School and touring the booths at the missions conference.
I will follow you anywhere, Jesus. Except.
But see that’s not following. That’s bargaining. It’s not yielding; it’s bossing.
Last week, we saw that there were no if’s with God. This week, we’ll see there are no but’s for us. We need to be all in.
Sadly, it wasn’t until I was older, a new mom going through a Bible study, that I saw my prayer for what it was – rebellion. How could I condition my obedience? When God revealed my sin, I was broken over it and determined as much as I was able to hold both hands open to God.
In Luke 9, part of this week’s 100 Days with Christ reading, Jesus is headed toward Jerusalem and meets several would-be followers along the way.
“Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-bye to my family.’
Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” Luke 9:61-62
At first blush, the man’s request seems reasonable. He’d follow — but first he just wanted go back to say goodbye to his family.
Jesus said that kind of following was useless — like a farmer who’s trying to plow a field but is looking behind.
Like the man in Luke 9, we’re quick to say “I will follow you” but then we mold it like play dough around our schedule, our priorities, our sensitivities our convenience.
We want to follow Christ so long as we’re not uncomfortable.
We want to follow Christ so long as He doesn’t ask anything too extreme.
We want to follow Christ so long as it aligns with our agenda and goals.
We want to follow Christ so long as the path looks just like the one we’ve imagined.
But that’s not following God. That’s giving Him the leftovers of our life and our will after carving out all the parts that aren’t acceptable.
If Christ is not first with you, Christ is nothing to you. You cannot have Him to play with—you must surrender your whole life to Him and make Him the first and last object of your life’s ambition, if you have Him at all. ~ Spurgeon
Paradoxically, do you know where Jesus was headed as he encountered this half-hearted follower?
Jesus was headed for the cross.
“As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51
What a contradiction on the road that day!
A sinner whose conditions kept him from following Jesus and a Savior whose obedience compelled him to deliver sinners.
And for the update: God hasn’t yet called me to become an overseas missionary. But He has called me to hard things. Things I never would have chosen for myself and which require me to keep both hands open.
Let’s be all-in girls. Let’s follow God without conditions.
We’ve turned a corner this week in our reading for 100 Days with Christ. In 2 days, we’ll hit Day 50 and Jesus’ 3rd year of ministry. As we begin to prepare for Easter, Jesus earnestly prepares his followers for His crucifixion and resurrection.
If you’d like to join us for the 100 Days with Christ study, there is still time! Join us for the last 50 days as we prepare our hearts for Easter. You can subscribe here for the free reading plan and journal.
Kristi Woods says
Oh goodness. This post went right to the heart, Lisa. It’s good – very good…and convicting. (In a God way.) The term rebellion makes my feathers ruffle, but it’s true. Why hadn’t I seen it in that passage before??? I’ll be sitting with the Lord on all of this today. Love you, my friend, and I thank God for you.
Betsy De Cruz says
Thanks so much for your words today, Lisa. I never thought about how conditional obedience is really giving God the leftovers. Oh, I want to be all-in! Lord, help me. Lately I’ve been praying, “Lord, use me. In spite of me.”
Oh wow. That’s all I can say. Total transparency here, in the past I’ve been guilty of ‘charting my own course’ because God’s course seemed too uncomfortable. Looking back today, it hurts. But thankfully, God forgives and gives second chances:) I never again want to shy away from God’s plan for me because it’s scary, too hard, or uncomfortable.