I’ve been reading “A Chance To Die”, a biography of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot, and in it is a story of a struggle Amy overcame by claiming the truth of John 21:22, “Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!’ ”
In my own little way, I had a similar experience with this verse this week.
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I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I fully comprehend the implications of being solely focused on CHRIST. Alone. Period. No exceptions. Think of the Philippians 3 passage where Paul desires to truly KNOW Him, to “count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus [his] Lord”.
Count everything as loss. For Christ.
That is a hard concept to grasp. I really don’t think I get it. Because I have such a cushy, modernized, Americanized life, I see all the physical, material things that I have–and think I control–and then just add Jesus into that. Sadly, I have a feeling I’m not alone in this. How many are really singing these words if we’re honest:
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and health insurance.”
“Hallelujah! All I have is Christ–plus my bank account!”
“Glory I’m saved! Glory I’m saved! My credit card debts and my bills are all gone!”
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Sunday morning this same passage from John 21 was preached by my pastor, and it was amazing how I needed to hear those words, yet again. I’d allowed myself to get worked up about something that week and had a rotten attitude, which quickly led to grumbling, and venting to a few poor souls I dragged into it. But when you turn your tongue loose, it doesn’t stop with one offense. Pretty soon I found myself complaining about other situations and issues non-related to my original frustration. It was an all-out pity party, and I wanted everyone invited!
Everyone, that is, except Jesus.
But He came anyway. And thankfully my heart wasn’t so hardened as to ignore His gentle prick. I knew I was sinning, but I wasn’t ready to surrender. So I told God before church that even though I wasn’t ready, I would try to come with an open heart and deal with this once and for all.
I think God let my pastor in on the secret pact, because his sermon hit home!
“What is that to you?”
You don’t have to know everything. Forget about everybody else. Stop trying to manage everything, know everything, critique everything.
“YOU. Follow. Me.”
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Once again, when confronted with God’s Word, I realized what a petty thing I had turned into a massive ordeal. I had to let it go and I knew it. There is no point clinging to worthless idols.
Times like these make me think of a recorded message I once listened to of Elisabeth Elliot (we’ve come full circle with her!), and I can distinctly hear her voice saying, “Surrender your rights.”
Just as I began to sink down in shame and think, “what must God think of me when He sees me like this?”, the Pity-Party-Crasher said, “He sees Jesus! He sees a spotless Lamb, Perfect Righteousness!”
Thank you, Jesus!