If you ever feel like you are on the right track spiritually and think you're doing a pretty good job of following God, go to the closest library or book store and buy a copy of a book called "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan.
Then read it. And weep.
I promise you that you'll love it and hate it all at the same time. My reaction to the book was very similar to the moment I received that call at 7 in the morning, telling me that my mother had died. One minute my life seemed fine and the next, I wanted nothing more than to rewind time because the current moment was just too painful and hard to accept.
The book might make you go into denial and start feverishly searching for televangelists that might agree with you and tell you that "no...you don't have to really give up everything to follow Christ."
There is a scripture that says, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it." Luke 23-24.
In fact, there is a whole lotta talk about "dying to your self" in the bible. And I'm not going to lie. It's hard to hear that! I think that at some point, when we realize what that actually means, we go through those same 7 stages of grief that we do when we lose someone we love. Except this time, we are losing ourselves.
We are losing our desires, our wants, our comfort, our agenda, our plans and looking instead to God. All that was us becomes dead, insignificant and useless and we become part of something bigger and while it hurts, it also feels amazing.
There is a natural tendency to shy away from the uncomfortable sensation we feel when we mourn ourselves. In fact, many of us decide to cease moving forward and choose instead to shake our heads and say, "no, no, no, no, no." We never move past that initial moment of denial and get to the work that God calls us to do.
Right now, I'm in the bargaining stage. "Oh please, let this not be true! Can't I go half-way? Nobody else is doing it! What about my kids? Didn't I already suffer enough? Is my sacrifice really that important? My husband will never go for it!"
Right now, God is calling us to give 10% of our income in tithes. Ya'll, ten percent sounds small but it's hard. Because we're not used to it! Originally, we thought we'd sell our house so that it would be easier to do this and we waited for God but not only did he not open a door, he slammed every one shut in our faces. I've come to realize that this is because had we done that, it would have been easier to give. And by doing so, we'd miss the whole point and the sacrifice required wouldn't be so much of a sacrifice. We've increased to 5% now and I'm looking at the checkbook and asking, "how is 10% ever going to work?"
He's also asking me to give him my gifts. That is, everything I'm good at needs to be used towards him, pointed at him. Which is why my blogs have been all God, God, God, God, God and less Licha. He wants me to use my resources (i.e. my time) for him; mainly in the sole purpose of loving people. Those things are tough but the money is harder. Which I think just goes to show how necessary it is in my life.
When I sigh in prayer and try my best to whine and give him my puppy dog eyes he just laughs. "You know that the 10% is the bare minimum, right? That it doesn't even count as 'generosity' but rather what you give above and beyond that is what will hurt more and therefore really be considered selfless?
I won't lie. I've thrown a threw tantrums.
But he keeps asking me this question: "What in your life requires faith, Licha?" Like, what in my life am I TRULY dependent on God for? Because I'm pretty comfortable. We have a steady paycheck and are healthy and are overall blessed. What do I need him for? Cling to him for? Sure, I love him but what is it that makes me weak and scared so that I have no choice but to look to him and say, "you are the only one who can take care of this."
Which is why he's pushing us to give more so that we can see how he will stand in the gap. I'll keep you posted on how that goes. Also, I'm going to be sharing some of those "loving people" things that are coming up. Lucky for me, I have a partner in crime and we're devoting hours, days to just going out into the world and loving people and we've come up with some pretty great ideas. Hopefully they will inspire you to do the same in your life not because it makes you a better person but because it shows others what Christ looks like through you.
What is God asking you to trust him about? What in your life requires absolute faith?