My 21-day journey has ended and for a moment, I found myself sad. Then reality hit, and I realized that the true journey is now beginning.
I spent 21 days seeking direction and I did not come up empty. These past three weeks have been profound to say the least and have now changed the course of my journey.
"23 Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?"
As previously mentioned, it takes 21 days to create a habit. After spending the past 21 days in the Word, it has now become habit. I can no longer begin my day until I have spent time with Him. Because of this time spent with Him each morning, I am prepared throughout the day (most of the time) when discouragement strikes. I am also more aware of when God is speaking to me.
This past Thursday, I had one of the greatest revelations of my life. It was not until Saturday morning I was able to write about it. Yesterday morning at church, our pastor preached a sermon based on what I had written. He even used scripture that I had used. Coincidence? NO WAY! I now recognize when God is trying to affirm to me that what He is showing me is real. In that same sermon, he also preached on what my quiet time had been that morning before church and again, quoted the same scripture I had read that morning. Again, coincidence? Absolutely NOT!
I am in awe of God. I am experiencing the bigness of God for what I believe is the first time in my personal life. I have learned that my purpose in this life is to bring glory to God. I have learned that in order to do this, I must draw closer to Him in order to become more like Jesus. I am to make Him famous. I have learned that in order to do this, I must deny myself daily and surrender to His way and not my own.
I have always understood surrender. It has not been a problem for me in terms of turning things over to God. I have faith that He can do anything. What I was missing though was the fact that complete surrender is active. You don't just say a prayer, ask Jesus to take the throne and you're done. Surrender occurs every day. Each day I have to wake up and surrender myself to God's authority in obedience. The equation looks like this: I must deny myself, which leads to surrender, surrender leads to obedience, and obedience leads to glorifying God.
I have learned that following Jesus is not a deed but instead, it is a death.
"For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." Colossians 3:3
It is not about keeping a "list" or following rules. That is religion. Instead, it is me dying to and surrendering to God so that He may live through me. So in order for me to "gain" life, I must lose mine. Surrender is not some big event that transpires when I pray to receive Christ but instead, it is a lifestyle choice.
"4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:4-5
The choice to walk in faith is having complete trust in God. This means that it is impossible to control my own life. I was not created to run my own life and if I try to take that control, I will fail. This choice of surrender is possible. It is possible because I have the power of God living within me. Because of the Holy Spirit within me, I can accomplish all things because Christ gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)
Now that I finally understand the extent of surrender, it means something totally different. I am bought and paid for by the blood of Christ. God seems me as righteous because of Christ's death upon the cross. My sanctification is an ongoing process and will not be complete until I stand before God in eternity. I must wake up every day and surrender my life to Him in order to live in obedience and glorify Him. My mission is now to surrender my life daily.
"10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."