“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it” (Mark 8:35, NLT).
Sixty years ago a young Presbyterian missionary named Jim Elliot was killed in Ecuador by Acua Indians. His wife, Elizabeth, wrote years later in “Discipline the Glad Surrender” about her husband’s passionate love for God. “Discipline is the wholehearted yes to the call of God. When I know myself called, summoned, addressed, taken possession of, known, acted upon, I have heard the Master. I put myself gladly, fully, and forever at His disposal, and to whatever He says my answer is yes.”When God’s incredible mercy and grace have brought new life, then giving myself away for His sake should be as natural as breathing. Jesus calls for me to know Him as He has always known me. He yearns for me to place myself completely into His hands, and trust Him with the unknown of what is to come.
“In a deeper sense that any other species of earthbound creature,” Elizabeth Elliot also writes, “I am called. And in a deeper sense I am free; for I can ignore the call…I can say no call came. I can deny that God called or God exists. What a gift of amazing grace—that the One who made me allows me to deny His existence. ” When I say “yes” to God, then I am no longer my own. I have realized the cost of my obedience, and have agreed to give whatever is necessary.
“Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:35, NIV). Not only are the “Jim Elliots” through past centuries an example of this truth. The news is filled today with those who lose their lives for refusing to deny Christ. In the Mideast Christians are beheaded for standing for Christ. In America they are persecuted and some have also given their lives. Do the examples of men and women who have given all for Jesus Christ inspire us to do the same? Jesus calls each one of us to leave all our personal desires behind, to take up His cross and follow Him. It is a call to absolute surrender of body, mind and spirit. It is a call to the deepest discipleship–to the greatest commitment.
One who is a disciple of Jesus Christ is a person who has counted the cost of surrender and then placed himself completely under the guidance of the Master. His love for Christ is greater than his love for anyone or anything else. He resolves to give and also give up whatever is necessary. These requirements don’t attract a large number of followers, but for those who do follow, the result of such a decision is guaranteed. Lose your life for Jesus and you will discover the infinite spiritual depth in your own soul (Matthew 16:24-25).
God gives us the freedom to choose—to choose either the shallowness of personal desires or the reality of His fulfillment. When you trade your life for His life, you discover your true identity. Having searched all your life for fulfillment, you find the pearl of greatest price, and you give your very life in order to possess it (Mathew 13: 45-46). “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me” (Psalm 42:7, NIV). The unfathomable depth of the Spirit of God calls out to that which we do not yet know ourselves to be. Do I hear? Do you? Do we accept? Are we willing? Only each one of us can answer that question.