Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12).
Joy? That verse seems impossible. When we look closely at this cross-bearing commission, it does not sound like a happy life, does it?
1. Go to a place you’d rather not go
2. Carry a burden you’d rather not carry
When you think about it, our soldiers have (or had) a cross-bearing commission. Most soldiers do not carry weapons or go into a battlefield because they want to fight. But there is a certain satisfaction, a precious joy that is found in fighting a battle to save the lives of those we love–and to save the nation we love.
And that’s exactly what Jesus did. He went into our sin battlefield and found a satisfaction, a joy in fighting the battle to save us.
One of the reasons a soldier goes into training, is to learn to lay aside all other thoughts and distractions and focus on the voice and instructions of the commander. But what about you and me? Are we learning to focus on our Commander, and lay aside distractions?
Our own human need jumps up and down inside of our heart and demands our attention. Every day things such as:
• My to do list
• I feel under the weather
• I wonder what’s happening on Facebook?
• I really would like to do this thing today
• At the end of the day, I just want to put my feet up and watch a movie
• I need money for this or that project
• I want a day off
• My cell phone is buzzing again
• The car needs serviced
• The house needs cleaned
These every day demands and desires can take the steering wheel of our lives and drive our day to day agendas. Here’s the million dollar question: Is my life steered by my own wants and needs and plans?
Jesus explained it this way:
If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it (Mark 8).
Does that mean he wants us to deny our “to do list”? Maybe. He doesn’t want us to be irresponsible. But our first responsibility is to God and to God’s kingdom. Does this mean he doesn’t care about my life? Never. God cares about my life. He just wants me to care about His life, His path, His kingdom business, and His plan to contribute to that kingdom. Jesus calls us to surrender our calendar, agenda book, and to do list! Why? God has a better plan and he has tremendous grace to help us fulfill our earthly responsibilities while adhering to His thoughts and plans for our day.
So many churches in American culture have adopted the humanistic self-centered thought that God is here to help you live your American dream, be a success, take the stage as an American icon or American idol and make you happy. That’s not scriptural. We have DIED and our life is HIDDEN in Christ. If we ever do make the stage, we should be seen lifting up the cross, not our personal ego, bank roll, or ambitions.
Jesus comforted us concerning our own household affairs. He said, “Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6).”
It’s a matter of prioritizing our heart’s desire. Besides, our wants and needs are unmerciful drivers. They like to steer us right into anxiety, distraction, and that empty void where we know something isn’t right but we don’t know how to fix it. Ugh. That’s not the place to live!
Jesus plainly told us not to worry about our personal success, income, water supply, refrigerator, wardrobe, or needs. He can handle it!
So if we must lose our life in order to save it, how do we go about it? What is it exactly that God wants from us?
Here it is—and forgive me for capitalizing here, but I don’t have this down yet myself and I want be able to find these words again:
PAUSE TO CONSIDER WHAT THE FATHER WANTS BEFORE I MAKE MY PLANS.
I cannot allow myself to be “driven” by my own need to any destination. There is nothing that is happening in my life that God can’t handle. I can trust him.