Last night I sat in my front yard feeling the pangs of loneliness and I recalled something a minister (Rev. Robert Morgan) once told me. He said, “If you stay true to Jesus He will lead you down a path you wouldn’t choose for yourself.” I thought, ‘How right he was!’
I thought about the time I had wanted a friend and Jesus sent me birds and frogs and butterflies; and the time I had wanted to be accepted, and people turned on me and started vandalizing my property. I thought of when I had wanted credit for things I had done, and how people began to accuse me of things I hadn’t done; and of the time I had sought assurance that my needs would be supplied, and how the Lord had told me that if I would trust Him to supply my needs, I must be willing to give away even that which I needed. Truly He has led me down a path I wouldn’t have chosen for myself.
This path, although strewn with tremendous difficulties, has been well worth the traveling. And it has been well worth the traveling because although the Lord’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways are always true and just, and His thoughts are always pure and good. He is God and we are but dirt. His path is the only path worth traveling.
Christians everywhere claim to follow this path. But how many of us really do? How many of us are really laying aside our desire to be physically and emotionally comfortable on this earth? (If we have food and covering, we should be content. I Tim 6:8) How many of us are truly willing to give away even that which we need in order to help someone else, believing God to be our sustenance? How many are willing to stand silently, trusting God for our vindication, while people are accusing us falsely? How many of us are willing to give of ourselves even to the arrogant and the ungrateful, because God makes His sun to rise for them, as well as for us? How many are willing to tread the depths of aloneness, allowing Jesus to be our all in all, because no one understands the path we’re on? How many of us are truly following Jesus?
There are different requirements for each of us. Maybe only three or four of the above are required of you. God knows. The point is — are you losing your life that you might find it, or are you being blinded by everyday pressures to the point that you’ve lost sight of where your life is? Do your prayers ring of praise and adoration for Him who has prepared a new heaven and a new earth for those who endure to the end, or are they weighed down with requests for temporal gratifications that will make life on this present earth easier for you? Are you looking away from your self-serving ego and serving God, or are you self-absorbed, expecting God to serve you? Are you really walking by faith, content with whatever state you’re in, or are you walking by sight, and never quite satisfied with what you see?
Please don’t think this letter comes from a judgmental attitude. I must confess that as I sat feeling the pangs of loneliness last night, I was also feeling sorry for myself. I confess that I haven’t yet arrived. But by God’s grace I keep endeavoring to look away from myself and unto Jesus. I keep endeavoring to love Jesus more than I love myself. Do you?
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. Should we not lay down our lives for our Friend? Should we not abandon our petty complaints and our selfish desires and lose sight of ourselves for Him who gave so freely of Himself for us? So many want to reign in glory with the King of kings and Lord of lords; so few are willing to walk outside the camp, bearing the reproach and sharing the grief of the Man of Sorrows. So many are quick to lay claim to the power and authority of Jesus, and so slow to follow the Person of Jesus, for He leads down a path they wouldn’t choose for themselves.
‘The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, IF INDEED WE SUFFER WITH HIM in order that we may also be glorified with Him.’ Romans 8:16,17. May God help us lose our lives that we might find them.
Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant