“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)
“Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 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. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.” (Matthew 16:23-27 NLT)
After nearly seven years of running, seven years of trying to hide it, seven years of trying to compromise, and seven years of circumventing my calling, I finally admitted to myself and my pastor Thursday that I was called to be a preacher. Seven years. During our conversation, my Pastor asked me the one question I had tried to avoid for years, “what am I afraid of?” You see, over the past seven years, I have had the same conversation with my Pastor several times. I have been trying to do God’s work without the title and responsibility of preacher. So when it came time to accepting and owning my calling, I never could say the words; therefore I always had an out…an excuse. Well, I finally said them and as I did I felt many things; joy, peace, and regret. Regret. I felt regret because I wondered what would my life have been like if I had accepted my calling all of those years ago instead of trying to hold on to a life I thought would make me happy. I felt regret because I wondered whose blessing have I blocked due to my disobedience. I felt regret as I realized I was more committed to “stuff” than to Him. I felt regret because as I spoke to my Pastor and said the words aloud, I realized how my desire for a fun and responsibility-free life, negated the privileged anointing that has been placed on my life.
When Jesus rebuked Peter it was a rebuttal to a wayward child, a child that wanted to hold on to life as he knew. Yet as Jesus pointed out, we simply cannot. None of Christ’s followers can hold on to even an ounce of our former selves. So I am determined to move forward and give up my life for His sake. I was willing to receive my Masters in Christian Education, but I was not willing to do more than that. Ironically, as much as I love the Lord…am in love with the Lord…I loved my life, my freedom more. That is a very hard thing to admit, but I can. I loved hanging out with friends, instead of doing the ministry I was called to do. I loved sleeping in more than waking up early to spend quiet time with Him. I loved my life. Yet, my life was killing me and my spirit. It was killing me not because I was doing anything “bad”, but because I wasn’t living as He created me to be. The sense of dissatisfaction has been growing in me because I know I was created to do more, live more, say more, and do more for His kingdom. I do not know what tomorrow brings for me now that I am embracing and accepting my calling (other than my starting the process to become a minister – pray for me). But I do know I must do it…I must preach and teach the gospel. So, I ask you, what has God created you to do that you are not willing to do? Each person that inhabits this planet was born for a specific purpose. Although the will and plan of God will not be circumvented by our disobedience, our disobedience directly affects the manifestation of His will. If you don’t give your life for Christ to use, who will He us?
I did not lose my life Thursday, I finally started to live. I did not lose myself; instead, I finally found me. The whole me. Whatever God has called you to do, my hope is that one day you will have the courage to lose yourself and do it. I may have seven years of regret, but I will not have ten. My prayer is that you will not either.