Last time out, I spilled my guts in a way I feel I haven’t in a long time.
This time, I’m going to do it some more.
For me, the writing process has potential to be very healing. I say potential because in a lot of cases, I hit a ceiling with it and nothing happens. I can’t promise that writing through my issues will solve them. In this instance, I tend to think that it may do, but there is no such thing as a sure thing in this field.
Last time, I wrote about the gospel – how at one point it was my main passion, my main desire, and the reason I did everything I did for a long time, and how nowadays it seems that isn’t case. I wrote about what may have gone wrong.
Well, here’s the truth that hit me like a ton of bricks, and the truth that may just have set me free (although, like a prisoner chained for a long time, I may be so used to chains that I can’t tell they’re gone…)
I make excuses. Regularly.
Excuses from following Jesus. Excuses from giving everything I have to Him. Excuses from loving Him with my whole heart, mind, and strength.
I’m busy with my job!
I want to be a normal person with hobbies – so I want to spend time listening to podcasts about whatever, reading books about whatever, and playing video games in my spare time.
I have a girlfriend now!
I have a little dog to take care of.
I’m so busy with the move.
I’m still busy unpacking the new apartment.
I haven’t found a church yet!
I haven’t figured out what I want to do!
Who knows my future?
All of those I’ve used to justify my lack of pursuing Jesus, and none of them are legitimate. I say that for several reasons. First, because all of those things have potential to be, instead of distractions, opportunities.
A hobby can glorify God.
A relationship can glorify God.
Being faithful in the midst of a chaotic season (of work and moving, etc) can glorify God.
Finding a church and letting my gifts show can glorify God.
The future – albeit uncertain – can glorify God.
Second, everyone has struggles. It’s not as though my life is suddenly more chaotic than it ever has been – it is chaotic, but it’s been here before. I’ve been in relationships. I’ve moved before. I’ve had a lot going on before. It’s not an excuse to stop following Jesus.
So this is me publically calling myself out.
This is me confessing to you, reader, that I’ve made choices to stop following Jesus – even if they were unknowingly made – Who is, I remain convinced, my most faithful Friend, my Savior, my Redeemer, and a very real person who has a very real presence inside of me, even though I’ve chosen to suppress it of late.
This is me confessing that in the last few months, I have (as I have done before in my walk with Jesus) striven endlessly to grasp truths with my head that must also be grasped in the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit.
One of those truths I found in Matthew 8:22.
“Let the dead bury their own dead.”
The context is this: Jesus is telling a couple of disciples about the cost of following Him – after one says, “I will follow You wherever You go,” He tells him, “birds have nests and foxes have holes, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
Another disciple says, “I will follow You – but first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus replies, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
Suddenly, that came alive to me. To paraphrase it or put myself in the context, Jesus is saying that our problems aren’t in the equation of the decision to follow Him. Our problems don’t come first, our issues don’t take precedent, our life happenings are irrelevant in the magnitude of what it is to follow Him. There’s no time to “get it together.” There’s no time to take a break from discipleship. There’s no, “I’ll do it in a second.”
Because, I’d venture, of a moment in a garden.
A moment when Jesus examined the road ahead of Him – the path of suffering, the fate of the cross, the reality of the thorns and the nails in His hands – and He factored all of it in when He made this decision:
“Father, if there is any way, let this cup pass from me. But nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.”
[Luke 22:42, Matthew 26:39]
There was a commitment in that moment – an eternal commitment, an incomparable commitment to the will of the Father. Something I can hardly grasp.
And you know what’s crazy? I have that tattooed on my left arm, and I forgot the scope of it. See, I believe that Jesus set the standard for discipleship with the word “nevertheless.”
I’ve heard it said that when you say “but” in a sentence, you negate everything before it. Jesus played out in His head the whole scenario and said (in not so many words,) “I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be beaten. I don’t want to die. I don’t want them to pick out My beard. I don’t want them to tear My skin from My bones. I don’t want nails in My hands or My feet.”
But then He said, “Nevertheless.”
And He wiped away every excuse, every reason not to follow the will of God. He willingly did so. He took the initiative to do that. Jesus is the epitome of following in spite of burdens – He, in a bruised and broken vessel, carried a heavy cross, which only exacerbated the pain and further opened the wounds.
That makes my excuses pale in comparison.
Surely I have no reason to stop following the King of all kings; the Lord of lords, the author of Love, the author of Salvation, the Redeemer of mankind. Surely nothing can be too heavy to bear while I take up my cross and follow Jesus.