The Cost of Closeness
In three years, one laptop, two iPhones, one passport, one pair of eyeglasses, one pair of Ray Bans, a purse and a wallet were stolen. Throughout the process of these years, the Holy Spirit said, "don’t hold tightly to anything in this world.”
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. 1 John 2:15-16
As the page turned from that chapter to this one, the moral of the story unfolded before me. First, God revealed my grip on material things. Now, He’s exposing the unseen things I clutch: entitlement and my right to selfishness. Although these things are elusive and invisible, they are so powerful.
Still confused? Let me lay it out for you.
Entitlement is the scratching, itchy sensation I feel when someone else is asked to lead the Bible study, or when she gets the credit for my idea, or worst of all when they eat the last chocolate covered strawberries!
My right to selfishness is the thundering, “No!” I initially give when the Holy Spirit nudges me to reach out to that girl or to that man, when all I want to do is go home to enjoy silence and a nap.
But these words illuminate my self-centeredness:
What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? 1 Corinthians 4:7
Wasn’t I bought at a price? Doesn’t the Bible say I am no longer my own since Christ saved me? Isn’t my very breath a gift? If you can exclaim, “yes!” to these questions, you’re in a humbling and powerful place. But if you’re not there yet, be encouraged. Getting to the “yes” is a process. Letting go of everything that makes you say “no” to God is a process.
Certainly, if we truly understood the depth of the emotional, physical and social turmoil we may undergo for the sake of Christ, we would recoil. But, as we abide in Him each day and say, “yes,” in the moments, we more clearly understand the cost. We more greatly desire to pay it.
Paul described his life like this: For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. We are fools for Christ…we are weak…we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world — right up to this moment. 1 Corinthians 4:9-13
Admittedly, the reality that chasing after God means suffering and persecution, maybe to the extent of Paul’s life, is scary. But this is the cost — releasing every comfort, relationship, and plan I’ve ever made into His hands; trusting that any present sufferings I endure won’t even compare to the eternal joy in store for me.
Elisabeth Elliot puts it perfectly: "If we hold tightly to anything given to us, unwilling to allow it to be used as the Giver means it to be used, we stunt the growth of the soul. What God gives us is not necessarily ‘ours’ but only ours to offer back to him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go of, if we want to be our true selves. Many deaths must go into reaching our maturity in Christ, many letting goes."
Will you endure the discomfort of letting go of self, so you can let in more of God?
At any point Paul and the apostles could’ve packed up and gone back to their normal lives, but oh, what they would have missed out on! Oh, what we will miss out on if we don’t give God our “yes”!
Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ…Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 1 Corinthians 3:1-4
Let go and let Heaven come through you. Like the child you are, place your two tiny feet on his giant ones, grab His hands, and hang on no matter where He leads.
-Alexis Rebennack // @alexisreb