Sometimes Christ asks us to do things we don’t want to do. Sometimes following Christ means walking into the fire instead of away from it. Sometimes it means making a mess rather than cleaning one up.
The thing is, that following Christ means being willing to take risks, to be courageous, to step out of the boat. It means being willing to have that hard conversation with a friend because you know it’s the right things to do even if it’s going to hurt. It means showing up at the hospital when someone is sick and suffering to be there with them through the pain. It means taking that job that requires you to move away from what you know. It means walking up to the stranger and inviting them into your community.
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me…whoever loses His life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16: 24,25
Following Christ means embracing the cross. It requires us to lay down our life for His purpose and for the good of others. When we are able to accept this, that’s when He can start working and healing. I’ve noticed in my walk with Christ that the times when things are the hardest and most challenging, that’s when He’s working intimately. That’s when He’s calling me to learn how to lay down my life and follow His example.
My experience has been that the Lord uses these challenges to take a risk to make me aware of where I need to let Him more deeply into my heart. My first response more often than not is to avoid and to run from whatever the issue at hand is. But that usually just leads to pain and struggle. When I am able to allow the Lord into the problem, to surrender to His plan, that’s when true healing and growth begins. When I’m willing to accept the challenge and move forward, that’s when I start to learn how to truly lay down my life.
It’s not like it happens immediately, that I embrace the pain or see the growth, but that’s when the actual stretching can happen. When I allow the Lord in, that’s when He can show me how my pain or challenge is making space for something more. That’s when I start to see that He’s teaching me how to be better through this struggle. When I surrender, that’s when He can really start doing His thing.
This storm is making way for a beautiful rainbow. When we choose to accept the pain and suffering and challenge of this life we also open ourselves up more deeply to the beauty and hope that we have in the promises of Christ.
“We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Christ left a beautiful example in His own life for us. He had to embrace and endure the pain and suffering of His walk to calvary and the crucifixion before the glorious new morning of the resurrection. He laid down His life before He could take it up again. Surrendering and laying down my life is a daily challenge and the Lord uses many different tactics to teach me. Each one unique and so worth the struggle.
I promise it’s worth the struggle. It might not feel like it now, but God is with you and He is using this pain to make you stronger and to make room for something amazing. Keep fighting the good fight, my friends.