Summer 1992. I’d just graduated from McMurry University and couldn’t find a job in west Texas. I’d applied for and received offers for graduate school in three different fields – music at North Texas, seminary at Candler School of Theology, communication at UPenn. Three completely different worlds.
I had no idea what to do.
I prayed for weeks – weeks! – for a sign to tell me which path to take, but heard nothing. So I just figured, okay I guess I’ll pick one and do this thing because I don’t know what else to do, and I don’t have a clear sign from God anyway, so here we go. I decided on graduate school in Philadelphia, because it was, well, an Ivy school, and isn’t that the best career choice?
I figured, I’m a pretty good person, and trying to make right decisions, so God will bless this, right?
A little part of me wondered, why didn’t I hear a clear sign from God about this choice? So I shook my head and carried on, all the while talking the right talk about calling and God and blah blah.
People told me that the Holy Spirit leads our paths and specific decisions, if we allow, but I didn’t see it.
I just tried to make the best decision I knew to make at the time I made it.
That’s all any of us can really do, anyway, right? Life moves fast. We have passions and we have obligations and we have to make decisions.
But having responsibilities and deadlines, and learning to follow Jesus, are two completely different things. Be careful about following Jesus because it’s “good” or because it will gain you favor someplace or for any other agenda.[pullquote type=”right”]Beware of stopping anywhere short of total surrender to God. Most of us have only a vision of what this really means, but have never truly experienced it.
– Oswald Chambers[/pullquote]
When we do this, we may miss something greater.
When I was younger I didn’t understand that the answer to my big decision wasn’t up in the sky or in someone’s wise counsel or rationale or what I discovered when I let the Bible fall open and put my finger on a random verse.
I was asking the wrong question entirely.
Jesus isn’t just here to bless our plans. He wants us fully and unconditionally.
Maybe you’ve heard of the story of ten lepers. They begged Jesus for a word, and Jesus healed them, and nine of them went on their merry way. They wanted Jesus to fix their problem, and he did, and what did they do? Nothing.
When we do the Jesus thing with our own plans in mind,
we’re not following Jesus, we’re using Jesus.
(Maybe this is a common problem – 90% of lepers didn’t get it, either.)
But one healed leper came back.
Coming back to Jesus is a dangerous thing. Because if you do, and you start asking questions and honestly seeking not what you want but what Jesus wants, you may quickly learn that to follow Jesus not out of a desire to realize your plans, but simply because Jesus is Lord, is a completely different story.
Learning to let go of your agenda is why most in the crowd eventually quit following Jesus. The expectations are simply too high.
When it comes to figuring out your future, Jesus gives a simple command: “Seek first.” In other words, pursue the kingdom of God and His righteousness, not your thing. Then your thing will become clear.
Following Jesus isn’t about fulfillment. You’re not negotiating a settlement here. You’re giving your life over in full and unconditional surrender.
If you do this, good for you – it’s the only way to find life.
Losing life is how you gain life.
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it,
but whoever loses their life for me will find it.Matthew 16:25