I have decided to follow Jesus. What a statement. A decision. One made in a moment to last an entire lifetime. A lifetime that is full of mountain highs and valley lows. A guarantee that you will try. Because ultimately that's the best that we can do. Try and try and fail and try once more. To be scrutinized for failing and to then become better from that failure. To swallow your pride. To resist temptation. To forfeit control, your own will, and your impulse. To be honest, it is a noble endeavor indeed. But what they don't always tell you is that it's a messy one too. In fact, if you're reading this you can probably attest to just how messy it can be. I want to preface this by letting you know that no matter what the outside may look like everyone is trying to find their way through that messiness. Whether you've been saved since k-5 or you just rose in victory from that pool of water you will face this mess. As a matter of fact, we have been warned that in this world we will have trouble. Don't lose hope just yet, because we are also told to take heart as Jesus himself has overcome the world. But what if take heart doesn't mean take on the spirit of invincibility. What if take heart means that it's OK to struggle through that mess.
It's OK to fail.
It's OK to screw up royally.
It's OK to be tired. This one is the kicker because this is sometimes the root of Christian guilt. This idea that following Jesus is sunshine and wildflower fields constantly. The idea that to be worthy of a Christ-like life you must be the same as Christ. FALSE. No one could ever be the ultimate perfection that is Jesus... and maybe not understanding that is what's making you so tired. So what if it's OK to admit it's tiring sometimes. Because it's simply the truth. And what if being tired hurts? Friends hear me, That's OK too. It's OK to hurt. It's OK to wonder why all hell seems to break loose around you when that's the very place you're trying to stay away from. It's OK to hurt from disappointment. It's OK to hurt from loss. It's OK to hurt from watching others run their race without Jesus and seemingly still succeed. It's OK to hurt from delayed deliverance. It's OK to hurt from the growing pains. It's OK to hurt from the doubt that creeps in. It's OK to hurt due to people who have hurt you and to hurt from the pain you might have caused others. It's OK to cry out to God from that hurt.
It's OK to hurt because Jesus hurt. He cried out for deliverance. He hurt from betrayal. He hurt from fulfilling God's will in spite of the world's attacks. And that's just it isn't it. Maybe it hurts sometimes to follow Jesus because at times it hurt to be Jesus. The Bible tells us that if we are to share in Christ's glory we must also share in his suffering. Yet, the two have no comparison because the glory will far outweigh that suffering.
"Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us." - Romans 8:35-37
So hold your head high my friend. Fight the good fight. Give yourself some of that same grace God has so freely given us. Because we know that we truly find our life when we lay it down. So lay down your plans, your expectations, your fears of the future, your doubts, your loss, pain, betrayals, and shortcomings. Lay them at the cross where they belong and cling to the promise. Take heart because through him we too have overcome the world.
"That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong." — 2 Corinthians 12:10