“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).
More than half a century ago a young missionary was killed in Ecuador by Acua Indians. His wife, Elisabeth Elliot, 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,” Elisabeth Elliot continued, “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 even that 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). The news is filled with those who have lost their lives for refusing to deny Christ. Not only have some given their physical lives, but others have lost friends and family. “You will be hated” Jesus taught, “because you are my followers. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13). 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. It is also the promise of the greatest reward for those who endure.
Have I counted the cost of surrender, and placed myself completely in His Hands? Is my love for Christ greater than my love for anything or anyone else? This call to obedience does not attract many, but for the one who does surrender and follow Him, the result of such a decision is guaranteed. If I will lose my life for Him, I will discover the infinite spiritual depth in my 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?