In a previous blogging life, I had three quotes listed in the sidebar that had helped to shape my way of thinking. I came across them at various times early in my walk towards the fullness of God’s thought for His Church. The Lord has revealed, and continues to reveal, many truths through various vessels, and these three statements of reality are prime examples of that. May these three quotes stir your spirit and spur you on into the arms of your glorious Lord.
While I can’t quite remember which quote I came across first, I’ll start with Oswald Chambers:
“Many of us do not go on spiritually because we prefer to choose what is right instead of relying on God to choose for us.”
This stopped me in my tracks. I reflected on what it meant and discovered it to be true in my life. Whenever I came across a hard choice between the Lord and His Life or me and my current comfort of life, I found that the choice I wanted to make, the decision I thought was right, was not necessarily the one God wanted to choose. However, I slowly came to understand more and more that God’s version of right is always better than my version. Why? Because He’s God and He has a better idea of what’s really going on than I do. It’s still not always easy to rely on Him to choose for me, but it is His life that now lives through me. When I understand that, and I operate from that stand point, I can deny my right to choose and allow Him to have free reign.
The next quote comes from A.W. Tozer:
“Most Christians are satisfied living as common Christians, without an insatiable hunger for the deeper things of God.”
Ever since I started singing (way back in my youth director days) the DeGarmo & Key song, “Casual Christian”, I didn’t want to live a lukewarm life. I wanted more of God and His Christ. I wanted more of Christ and His Church. I didn’t want to be a common, or casual, Christian. How could I read about the faith of Paul and Peter or any of those guys and not feel the same way about Jesus? How could I read His commands and prayers and promises and declarations and not be changed? I was not, and still am not, satisfied living as a common Christian, even when that insatiable hunger for the deeper things of God proved costly to me and my life. I’m learning to allow God to choose for me, remember?
The last of these early three quotes comes from T. Austin-Sparks:
“This new way of Life is so narrow that we cannot take ourselves into it, we have to leave ourselves behind.”
This is the quote, the reality of life in Christ, that has impacted my spiritual walk the most. It was something I always knew, but never knew how to walk out. What did it mean to leave myself behind? Then I remembered why it struck such a resonating chord within me – it echos Jesus:
“If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find it. What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul?” – Matthew 16:24-26
Oh, that cross thing. That denying or forgetting myself thing. That following Jesus and losing my soul-life thing. Me, myself, and I are replaced with Christ. He must increase, and I must decrease. This is His way of life. This is a New Life, and it’s not mine. There is no more room for me; it is only Him.
Now, trust me, I understand how these three quotes can sound to someone who loves his or her own life. I used to really love who I was and what I was doing, especially because I thought I was doing it for God. But I realized that I was doing my own thing and asking Him to bless it. Once I started asking Him what He wanted, my whole life changed. I was ruined. I gave up my right to choose what was right for me, I gave up living as a common Christian, and I left myself behind. I chose God, and I continually have to keep choosing God. For each new path presents the opportunity to take myself and leave Him behind, each new turn offers a loss of appetite for the deeper things of God, and each new issue gives the chance to once again choose what is right for me.
But I have found that He is unequivocally worth all my self-denials. He is worth all my leavings behind of myself. He is worth all that hunger for Him. For what I gain when I lose me is Him. And in the end, there will be no other.