Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Give It Up!

In today’s society, “Give it up” can mean a couple different things. It can mean, “don’t even bother embarrassing yourself by trying”, as in when I attempt to play any kind of sport, even ping pong (if that can be considered a sport). Or it can be used to arouse cheers from a group, as in “Give it up for the greatest quarterback in NFL history, Brett Farve.” But I’m not talking about those uses. I’m talking about giving it up for Christ. Not like cheering for him, although that is ALWAYS welcomed, but giving up that thing that you may have held onto or put before Him.

Lately God has bombarded me with that question, “Bruce, what are you willing to give up to follow me?” The first time it came up was in a blog by Morgan Clark, can be read HERE, (Element’s Small Group Pastor’s, Grant Clark, son). He talks about God asking him if he would give up music to follow him. As he writes in his blog, “For me it was extremely tough. I’m not going to lie. I’m not sure right now. I think I could, but….” Didn’t really lend too much thought to it. Thought it was a great point, but wasn’t one of those soul shaking things…at the time.
Then, Andy Hazelet (Element’s Youth Pastor) spoke on the rich young ruler that asked Jesus how he could inherit the kingdom of Heaven and compared him to the Apostle Matthew. Jesus told the young ruler to sell everything, give it to the poor and follow him. The young ruler went away sad, because he didn’t want to give up all he had. Matthew on the other hand left everything the minute Jesus called him.

So I started thinking about it…What do I have that Jesus would want me to give up to follow Him? I really don’t have much. I know I would give up any of my personal possessions for him, it’s just stuff, it doesn’t mean anything. I have my sons, but I would hope that God wouldn't ask me to give them up. I think he has awesome things in store for them and I am trying to guide them down the path that He is directing me to. So what is there…nothing! Then it just popped in my head…or God put it there (I lean more towards the latter, especially lately).
The one thing that has ALWAYS been very important to me is having someone in my life (my wife, namely). Since I was 18 years old, I have had my wife there to love me, to be there with and for me and for me to love. I loved being married, but not just married, married to her. And I loved having someone to share my life with. Since she left, that has been my biggest struggle…Not having her. Not having anyone really. She left a huge void. Honestly, I could very easily find someone to try and fill that void, but it wouldn’t be the same. I started believing that as soon as my divorce was final I needed to get “back on the horse” and get in the dating scene so I could find someone to be with.

It wasn’t about replacing my wife, I know I could never replace what we shared when things were good, but it was about having someone. Then God asked, “Would you give up being with someone, to be with me?” Immediately I was scared of that question, I didn’t even want to acknowledge He had asked. But He did, and I’ve learned ignoring Him doesn’t work AT ALL!
The thing is that I’m not afraid of being alone, but I am afraid of not having someone to share life with (if that makes sense). I’ve thought on it a lot since He asked. God wasn’t necessarily asking me to actually give up on ever having a woman that loves me in my life. I think he was asking me to focus on my relationship with Him before even thinking about starting another intimate relationship with a woman. I’ve realized that I we all need to realize that before we can find comfort in another person (or provide comfort for that matter), we need to understand that God wants us to share our lives with him, before anyone else. Kind of like the tithe thing, He wants the first of us (really in that regard it amounts to ALL of us – not just 10% of us, but the point is he wants us to give us to him first). If we are willing to enter that relationship with Him, HE will cultivate it into something more beautiful then we can even imagine.

I’m not taking responsibility for my wife leaving, but I know that I failed my family in the area of spiritual leadership. I have NEVER had an intimate relationship with Jesus. I know I never entered in and let him work on Him and I. I know now, had I actually focused on being with God and letting Him build that intimacy between Him and I, my spousal relationship would have been on the same intimacy level. I think that intimacy would have resulted in a stronger relationship and equated to her not leaving…I believe that wholeheartedly, but the devil won that round.

I know that I have been thinking so much on what my next earthly relationship would look like and how things would be different, I began to lose focus on the new relationship I just entered. God was telling me to focus on building our relationship before even thinking of any other relationship. In the end my right, deep and intimate relationship with Jesus will only serve to strengthen ALL my earthly relationships, from my friendships to my possible future spouse. Besides the fact, this new God ordained passion I have in my heart demands my FULL attention on God. I want to learn as much as possible about God’s kingdom, Jesus’ life and desire for mine, all of it. I know God has work for me to do. 1 Corinthians 7:32 says, “I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him.”

I want to learn how to please my Lord and do the work that He has called me to, then when He is ready to give me someone to share my success with, I’ll be ready to nurture and build a strong relationship with her through Him. So would I give up being with someone for the rest of my life to be with Jesus? I don’t know how to answer that. But I do know that I want a relationship with Jesus, so deeply rooted in faith and love, that nothing can shake it and nothing can destroy it. In order for that to happen, there is one relationship I will focus on for now, mine and Jesus’.

Giving it up for Him,