The call that we each have been given to follow Christ is very frequently at odds with our inclinations and opportunities to be carried along with the currents of opinion and compulsions that characterize the world surrounding us. It seems easier and, at least in the short term, more fulfilling and satisfying to us to devote our lives to the agendas supplied to us by popular opinion (which, I hastily point out, is generally at odds with God’s Word).
It’s an interesting paradox because we are actually being invited by God to enjoy lives that are designed for our greatest happiness, reaping joys that extend beyond the limits of our frail bodies into eternity beyond.
Popular opinion tells us, for instance, that material possessions are worth so much that we should make the pursuit of the “finer things in life” our primary goal. Popular opinion tells us that to be a person of worth we must achieve great achievements or obtain wide renown. Popular opinion tells us that to be a person of significance that we must obtain the means of having our way.
And so we organize our lives around such priorities. For these we lose sleep, either in the worry about whether or not we will succeed in obtaining them or very literally rising early and laboring long into the night for them so that we won’t miss our chance. For these we race ahead of others so that we may be the first in line, even knocking others out of the way if necessary, heedless of the human souls we’ve afflicted and the heart of God we’ve pained. For these we squander our resources, failing to realize that God’s providence was not given us to promote our own glory, but rather His own.
In such a day and age as this, it is to be hoped that there will be some who will be awakened to the life that God has in mind for them. It is imperative that some will perceive the gnawing in their hearts and know it for what it is: evidence of a “hunger for more” than can be achieved in worldly pursuits. If some will heed this call from God, then their lives, as they are submitted to God’s loving authority, will open the doors for others to follow.
Every generation needs such pioneers, those who will fearlessly lead the way into what seem to be the wild lands of faith. Although their paths may indeed lead them through perilous places and monsters do indeed lurk in the shadows all about, the path itself is guarded by a great Guide Who will lead them safely and faithfully as they walk faithfully with Him. And instead of deserts or thorny wastelands that will swallow them up, these pioneers find far green valleys of such heavenly joy that the old things of their old lives are as a child’s plastic trinkets in comparison.
What lies in store for you if you will set out on this great and grand adventure with God? Some sacrifice, yes. But what are our temporary sacrifices when compared to the eternal treasures that God stores up for us? Pain and loss? Probably. But pain and loss whet our appetites for what God has in store, reminding us that our struggles here and now point to our great reward which is eternal life with God. Persecution and rejection? Maybe. But when we consider that our God shares in our rejection, sympathizing with our hurt, we then find encouragement, finding our delight in knowing that God Himself accepts us completely when we in faith cast ourselves wholeheartedly upon the cross of Christ, receiving His death on our behalf through faith. Not only that, but we do well to remember that when others reject or persecute us (directly or indirectly) because we are doing what God wants us to do, then it isn’t really we who are being rejected.
“And the LORD said to Samuel, ‘… they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me …” (1 Samuel 8:7 ESV).
Will you then be such a pioneer? Will you today set your heart so unreservedly on God that you’ll make Him your top priority? Your greatest aim? Your first love? Maybe the desire to grow and serve Him is stirred up in your heart, but you’re afraid. If so, remember that fear is a common denominator for people throughout the world… even Christians. Yet fear need not be your master. Simply remember to Who you belong, and that He is so jealous over you that He’ll see to it, if you’ll wholeheartedly walk with Him, that you’ll make it to that “far green country.”
If you will do that, you may join in with the Pilgrims who said in the early years of our nation, “it is not with us as with other men whom small things can discourage, or small discontentments cause to wish themselves at home again.”
Let us each today then indeed press bravely forward. “…One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13b-14 ESV).
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 24 ½ years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com.” Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at email@example.com.)