But as exciting or wondrous that might sound to some, this kind of life is no walk in the park. Rather, it is a narrow path.
True also for some other religions maybe. But this is much more than just a rigid way of life — much more than just a bunch of rules and rituals to follow.
Genuine Christianity is about having a real relationship with a living God. The living God. The triune God who has neither beginning nor end. The Father, Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit.
And so if you say to that God, “my life is yours, Lord Jesus,” you better mean it, my friend. Because your life will never be the same again.
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For sure, you’ll get to spend eternity in heaven with God — spared from the judgment in hell — and you are born again. A new creation in Christ. What’s more, you will have the power of the Holy Spirit within you, to help you live a victorious and overcoming life. WOW. You know, all these Christian stuffs you’ve probably been hearing about all your life — on the internet, on TV, in books.
But what might not have been properly explained to you, my friend, is that when you say these words, when you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, your life is not yours anymore — but his. It now belongs to God. And he’s the one now who will decide what to do with your life. Not you.
Salvation is easy. It is a gift from God. All you have to do is accept it. But submission to his Lordship? Now, that is another matter.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life?” — Matthew 16:24-26 WEB
As for me, I’m not perfect. I still sin sometimes. I’m still human, after all, and becoming holy is a lifelong process. And I admit it; there were decisions I’d made without having consulted God first.
However, I am glad to say that, for all the major decisions in my life, I have really tried to give them to God: matters of my career, family, church, relationships, personal growth, etc. And not just because he is my Lord, but also because I know that the answers he’ll give me are his best.
And some answers come quick, but some don’t. Some take years. Yes, some answers can and do take years.
And you cannot imagine (or maybe you can) how hard it is to wait on God for his answers, especially when many years have already passed by, and he stays silent.
At its most intense struggle, it can become a prayer for vindication. “Prove to me, O God, that I have not made a mistake in trusting you.”
Waiting on God
As I have recounted in Part 1 of this essay, Swordsman of the Word and God’s call to full-time ministry are his answers to me about my desire to serve him.
Of course, I will still do other things for him, still serve him in other ways, especially as a volunteer worker in our church. But just the simple fact that I now have this ministry that I know God wants for me — a ministry that took God twelve years to prepare me for — is already a great victory.
I should be shouting with joy, yes, but the truth is, writing about these things really weighs down my soul. As I could not yet truly feel that I’m now working full-time for God, I also cannot yet truly feel this victory. And that is because of the high costs I’ve paid for it.
This is not the place, however, to dwell on what exactly those costs have been. Suffice it to say that because of my decision to surrender my life to Jesus, and to follow him wherever he leads me, I had hurt a lot of people, especially my family, and every aspect of my life had been put on hold. Broken, as I frequently describe it.
I fell in love with Jesus. Desired to serve him. Gave him my life. But I was not ready. And so he prepared me. Trained me. Taught me. For twelve long years. Until I am here now. Writing these very words. 35 years old. Single. With very little money. And still living with my family. Because I am determined to see this through. To not take matters into my own hands and disobey God. To not waste the sacrifices I’d made, and miss out on the blessings I’ve been praying for. But to wait instead on God… for his plans for me to come to fruition… for his deliverance of me from my situation.
This is a crazy thing you’re doing with your life, you are probably thinking. But remember, my friend, that this is not really my life anymore! And I had done this crazy thing, and I’m still doing this crazy thing, because I believe that God can better manage my life — yes, and in a much better way than I ever could.
And judging from these initial results that you are now seeing — the birth of this ministry, for example — wouldn’t you agree with me on that, my friend?
Costs. The Bible says that we should count the costs if we are thinking of following Jesus, lest we are unable to follow him all the way, and people will mock us.
Now great multitudes were going with him. [Jesus] turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me, and doesn’t disregard his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he can’t be my disciple. Whoever doesn’t bear his own cross, and come after me, can’t be my disciple.
“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Or perhaps, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, everyone who sees begins to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and wasn’t able to finish.’
“Or what king, as he goes to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an envoy, and asks for conditions of peace.
“So therefore whoever of you who doesn’t renounce all that he has, he can’t be my disciple.” — Luke 14:25-33 WEB
I know that these are heavy words. But I’m only telling you the truth, and in the best possible way I can, because I don’t want to cheat you or to deceive you, my friend.
I’m not here selling some twelve-step solutions to solve your problems and make your life better. Rather, I’m telling you about a way of life that is admittedly hard, but one that is also blessed. Very blessed. Remember this verse?
“But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33 WEB).
Sadly though, these are also words that can be hard to accept even among Christians. One thing I’ve learned is that when you are following Jesus closely, the only people who would be able to really understand you are those who are doing the same thing. Makes sense, right?
And one result of this close contact with Jesus is that you’ll come to know him more intimately, and you’ll also learn to hear his voice much more clearly. And these are things that will definitely set you apart from others, even make you hard to understand and relate to, if you’re not careful.
I have a few strained friendships at this moment, because not all of my friends believe in this ministry as much as I do. In fact, I don’t have anyone right now whom I can talk to unreservedly. I used to be very open to them… about my feelings… hopes… dreams…. Not anymore. Maybe I just got tired, that’s all. Tired of all the pains and disappointments I’ve experienced. Tired of sharing my life… and of expecting help and understanding in return.
It’s kind of sad and ironic, isn’t it? Here I am, working hard on the eve of my triumph, and I have no real emotional support behind me. And here I am… turning to writing and blogging to release all of these… heartaches… for the whole world to know about.
But I’m not blaming anyone. I knew that when I started on this path, to begin this ministry, that I would be mostly alone. You really can’t expect people to rally behind you when what you are planning to do doesn’t make sense, especially when you say to them, “this is what God is telling me to do.”
Unless, of course, you already have a track record to prove your trustworthiness. That God really does speak to you about the things you’re saying.
My prayer when I began all this was, and still is, “Vindicate me, O God. Vindicate me.”
Because it’s not finished yet, my friend, the process of establishing this ministry. And I’m not just talking about the financial and legal aspects, which are still nonexistent, but also about the spiritual aspect. You see, I’m still waiting on God — to validate that Swordsman of the Word does come from him, and not just a product of my imagination… and ambition.
Because I understand that saying things like “God said to me…” or “I heard God said…” can be very controversial, even in Christian circles. And so my claim that this ministry is an assignment I received from God is a heavy one indeed. It is a claim that needs ratification from God himself.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that angels, demons, and people — both the spiritual and material realms — are all watching me right now, expectantly waiting for results that are undeniably acts of God, and so prove the validity of my claim. In fact, the enemies are not just watching: old Lucy has been very busy these past few weeks, playing again on my weaknesses, trying to sidetrack me.
Such intense pressure, huh? And I thought all I have to do is to blog….
Fortunately for me, this validation is not my concern at all, but my boss’s. Let God prove himself, and let him vindicate me! My only concern here is to be faithful to the work I’ve been given. As I had said when I started, what really matters to me is that, by obeying God, I have shown him that I love him.
The bottom line: This blog is very costly, in ways that can never be measured. The years of my life spent in preparation. My relationships and my reputation that are now at risk.
And the costs do not end here. I operate on principles and beliefs that are unpopular, and my message itself is unpopular. The Gospel and God’s Word are, by their very nature, offensive. Unless of course I compromise, water down my message, and tell you only about things that will make you feel good.
Which I will never do because — yes, you got it — my life is not mine anymore. I am following a much higher authority other than my own will.
And so whatever I do, I know that I will never experience the kind of success every blogger dreams of.
In fact, I expect heavy artillery to come pounding at me, sooner or later.
(to be continued)
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This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ. — John 17:3 WEB
How has this ministry helped you, my friend? Have you started to know God more?
The truth is, all these things I’ve talked about won’t have any real meaning to you unless you first have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know how to start such a relationship (and to know the story, the privileges, and the responsibilities that accompany this relationship), please read this: God’s Plan of Salvation.
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