- Matthew 10:39 “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”
- Matthew 18:4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
- Matthew 20:16 “So the last shall be first, and the first last.
- Matthew 20:26 “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant.”
- Matthew 23:11 “But the greatest among you shall be your servant.”
HE WHO HAS LOST HIS LIFE FOR MY SAKE WILL FIND IT
The winter Olympics always present for me the stark parallels for our spiritual lives. Olympians, like professional athletes, give up so much for their sport. They have to be careful with sleep patterns. They are aware of their environment; second-hand cigarette smoke or smog-filled cities can mess with their lung capacity. They track calories and percentages of protein, knowing when to increase carbohydrates and at what time, when to refuel, and with what to do so.
They give up freedom to travel as they follow their sport around the nation and around the world. They give up time with friends and family. “Sorry, I’m training,” is probably a common missive in their world.
They give up so much. They discipline themselves, making their body their slave. And in the end, they risk it all. Hurtling down a mountain at 75 miles per hour on nothing but two waxed skis, they put their life on the line every time they leave the starting gates.
Why? Why would someone risk so much for a sport that can only be done for just a short number of years before the body starts to give out? Why place their life at the mercy of a sport?
For the thrill of hurtling down a hill at 75 miles per hour. For the accomplishment of making their body their slave. For the exhilaration that comes when all the discipline and sacrifice pays off. And because they love what they are doing.
We watch the Olympics and we marvel at what these athletes can do. And we marvel that they are still “amateurs” in their sport. We marvel.
But all that flies out the window when it comes to faith. We forget there is a thrill involved. We forget the reward of discipline. And we forget to marvel.
We focus on what is given up, and we forget what is gained. And we forget the love that brought us here in the first place.
We forget. And because we forget, we begin to think that we were duped. Instead of exhilaration at an extraordinarily different life, we feel out of place and odd. Instead of the thrill of seeing Jesus work in our every day lives, we demand that He work in the way we want every time. Instead of seeing the finish line and pushing for it, we take a trail to the left and wander about for a while.
We forget what side we have chosen. And instead of losing our lives for Christ, we simply lose our lives.
In what ways have you traded exhilaration for ho-hum?
What exhilaration do you miss in your life following Christ?
Ask Him to show you the exhilarations He has to offer. Ask big, for He has much to give you.
WHOEVER THEN HUMBLES HIMSELF AS THIS CHILD, HE IS THE GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Whether you are 17, 57, 64 or 78, one question resonates with us all: What am I going to do with my life? You may wonder, ‘God, is this where You want me?’ or ‘What did I get myself into?’ or ‘Where is life taking me?’ We wonder, ‘God, what am I doing?’, ‘Father, how do You want me to live today?’ and ‘God, is this really what You want for my life?’
We all ask questions. Question about place, questions about time, and questions about our future. And God says, ‘Come…’ ‘Come now, let us reason together…’ He tells Isaiah in chapter 1, verse 18 ‘…come to the wedding feats’ Jesus proclaims in a Matthew 22 parable.
We wonder about the will of God, but we don’t really come to Him. We wail and weep, but we do not come. We beg and plead, but we do not come.
Jesus Himself proclaimed in Mark 10:14, “Permit the children to me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
Children come. With the hopes, dreams and fears. They come with their scraped knees, busted toys, and dirty faces. Children come. Screaming through the yard, proclaiming at the top of their lungs the name of the one they know will make things better.
Children come, trusting the one they seek. Children come, unabashed, unashamed, and fall into the arms of the one who has cared for them all along.
Do you come? Do you come seeking God? Or do you grumble at where He’s placed you? Or do you admit to God that you may not like this, but that you trust His Word when it says, ‘And we know that God causes all things to work for good to those who love God, to those called according to His purpose.’ (Romans 8:28)
Do you really believe that? I mean, really? Or have you forgotten that the God of the universe may just have some plans for your life that you just don’t quite understand yet?
A common term used in my lexicon is that of “adventure.” I have learned that some things I have called ‘good’ are really white-washing tombstones covering rotten things. And some things I called ‘bad’ were truly things that served to transform my life for the better. Calling something ‘good’ that God raises an eyebrow at can lead to disappointment. Calling something ‘bad’ that God is using to shape you leads to shame over wasted time and grumbling.
God can use anything to transform your life. If you let Him.
We talk about God and His love, and that is true. But God is also a God of respect. If you do not want Him to change your life, He often respects that, and He will stand knocking on that door waiting for you to let Him in. God can use anything to change your life. If you let Him.
Grumbling leads to nothing but wasted time. But answering the call of Jesus to come, when done with a heart open and softened to His voice, leads to a gloriously transformed life. Wasted time or transformation? The choice is yours.
What choices have you made that need to be set aside?
What is Jesus telling you?
What is He showing you about your life? About the choices you make?
What does He want you to walk away with from this lesson?