“Unless we take God just as He is in His wholeness, we will never find hope in our own brokenness.”—Jennifer Rothschild.
I listened with tears in my eyes as a woman from our Bible study shared her heartache. Four years after Jesus allowed her life to take a detour that she never wanted , she is still struggling to deal with her new reality.
She is hurt. She is angry. She is scared. She is afraid to hope. She is weary.
However…she is resilient. She is a fighter. She refuses to leave the path that Jesus has led her on…because to do so would be to leave Jesus.
She could no more leave Jesus than she could refuse to take her next breath.
He is her very life.
Her tenacious faith inspires me.
Afterward, I thought about the cost of truly following Jesus.
It is never easy.
Sometimes it is downright dangerous.
He requires every last piece of us. No holding back.
Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself (disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests) and take up his cross and follow Me (cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and if need be, in dying also). (Matthew 16:24).
Not a whole lot of wiggle room is there?
When Jesus called His disciples, He asked them to leave everything and follow Him.
They had a choice: yes or no? Stay with the familiar or venture into the unknown?
A quick read through the Gospels will show that the instant they said yes, their lives changed forever.
Rather than live on Easy Street for the rest of their earthly existence, they would travel Calvary Road.
Time and time again, Jesus failed to live up to their (very limited) expectations.
He simply (mercifully) shattered those false perceptions to smithereens. Instead, He gave them a front row seat to what it looks like when GOD breaks into history and walks this earth as a Man.
It took them all the way to the Cross.
Talk about a horrific detour that none of them saw coming.
Yet…this was exactly the place of God’s greatest triumph and victory.
We know that now, 2000 years later.
They didn’t know that then.
What will do with those moments in our own lives?
It is when Jesus allows something into our lives that we never imagined or wanted that we have a choice to make.
Do we really want to follow Jesus?
Not the Jesus we may have invented in our minds…but the real Jesus as He has presented Himself to be in His Word?
The One who plainly told us, “In this world you will have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration.” (John 16:33).
Notice what He did NOT say. Jesus does NOT say: “In this world you will have prosperity and good times and lots of laughs and all your dreams will come true”?
Everyone would like to follow a jesus like that.
But that jesus does not exist.
The real Jesus does not exist to make your earthly life easy and comfortable. There was nothing about His life that was easy or comfortable.
The real Jesus tells you that even though this life is difficult, you can “be of good cheer (take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted!) For I have overcome the world. (I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you).” (John 16:33).
Following Jesus means saying “YES” to everything He allows into your life.
He is good. All the time.
He is incapable of doing us harm.
He always knows what He is doing.
He is kind and compassionate.
He went to hell and back to save our sin-saturated souls.
He does not enjoy seeing us in pain but He loves us enough to do whatever is necessary to ensure our highest good and His greatest glory.
So…when pain sears and life hurts and hearts ache…will we say the hard Yes?
NOT a masochistic “yes” to pain…but a full-throated, whole-hearted YES to the Savior who bled and died and rose again to give us LIFE?
Will we say “YES” to His heart? His ways? His love?
Will we say “YES” to trust rather than doubt? To courage rather than fear? To life rather than death? To hope rather than despair?
Will we say “YES” to the healing of our scarred hearts?
Will we say “YES” to the Jesus of the Bible who has traveled the very roads He asks us to travel and freely gives us His strength and His joy for the journey?
Will our entire lives be one of “YES” to the One who said “YES” to us when He came to rescue us from sin?
The choice is yours.
The disciples said yes. It cost them everything. Jesus led them to the bloody Cross and it all must have seemed like a cruel joke.
Their “YES” led them here?
Although they never would have believed it at the time, they were in the very center of God’s will on that Good Friday.
Yet…on Sunday, there was an empty tomb.
Their “YES” had led them there too: to ultimate triumph. To life everlasting. To a blazing, eternal JOY that would never end. To freedom.
Don’t be afraid to say the hard “YES” to Jesus.
When you do, you will discover that you have actually said “YES” to inner healing, supernatural joy, exquisite intimacy, boundless hope, tremendous purpose, deep peace in the midst of the storms, and fiery courage.
Bottom line: your “YES” gives you all of Jesus.
And He is all you ever need.