Going begins with giving.
All that you are.
All that you have.
All that you hold close.
Is that intimidating to you? It used to be for me. Some days it still is, except this kind of giving has the power to change my heart.
It changes how I think. It changes what matters to me. It changes how I see people and how I seek God.
I used to the hear the words, “denying yourself,” and because of the culture that I live in it has a negative vibe. It feels legalistic, or that it might lead down a road that isn’t grace-based.
Jesus denied himself from day one. He set his face toward Jerusalem at the age of 30 and didn’t look back. He knew there was a cross and suffering at the end of his journey. He often tried to explain this to the disciples (Luke 18:31-34), but they didn’t get it.
There’s a moment in the Garden where we get a glimpse of just how heavy this burden felt.
And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22:44 (NIV)
Every step that he took toward the cross, he denied himself for us, and he did it willingly.
I don’t have self-denial down to an art and I never will. I don’t think it works that way. We come to that moment where we realize that it’s not about us, or that somehow pain or suffering or not getting our way is part of His plan.
This thrusts us into the crossroads.
Will I go with what makes me feel comfortable, or will I follow Him?
Self-denial is not self-induced. That’s important to remember. Jesus never asked us to punish ourselves or punish others, because He took our punishment on his own shoulders.
Instead, we are invited to ask the Holy Spirit to weave through our daily lives, our daily encounters, and when we feel that nudge to follow Him over our own desires or wishes or emotions, to deny ourselves in that moment to discover where Jesus is leading.
Self-denial is not a dead-end road; it’s a path to change.
I wish that I could say that I take that road instinctively, but my instincts almost always want to take care of Suzie first. I’m not alone in that. It’s something we all wrestle with, according to scripture.
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Galatians 5:17 (ESV) Emphasis added
The last part of this verse is what has the power to set us free.
When we deny ourselves there is more room for Jesus.
My faith emerges over my emotions, and I discover the things that I can do as I become the person I was meant to be.
I’m still me. You are still you.
It’s just the God-self version as we allow Him to show us deeper waters ahead.
Can that really be possible?
Will you do me a favor? If you know of a ministry (prison, small group, women’s shelter, college campus, etc.) or a church or Women’s Ministries department that is looking for study material, will you share this link with them?
My prayer from the beginning was to invest in women all over the nation, especially those who may not have access to free quality resources and videos and content.
As you help me spread the word, let’s pray together that women all over the world stand shoulder to shoulder to step into this beautiful invitation Jesus issues of, “Come With Me.”