By Carol Round, Special to ASSIST News Service
CLAREMORE, OK (ANS – November 8, 2015) — “Then he called his disciples and the crowds to come over and listen. ‘If any of you wants to be my follower,’ he told them, ‘you must put aside your own pleasures and shoulder your cross, and follow me closely. If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live. And how does a man benefit if he gains the whole world and loses his soul in the process?’” —Mark 8:34-36 (TLB).
Ten years ago this month, God showed me what it really means to live. I had retired from a 30-year teaching career just six months before. Within two months of leaving the public education world behind, God redirected my life’s journey to a different community where I knew very few people.
Before leaving my comfort zone, I had made plans—plans that didn’t involve consulting God. However, as the months passed leading up to my final day of teaching, God got my attention. He had a better plan for my life—a plan to use my gifts and talents for His glory. He had a path for the rest of my life, one I would not have chosen if it had been up to me. However, I listened.
After relocating to Claremore, God began placing people in my path, people specifically selected for the purpose of keeping me on track with His plan. What if I had ignored the guidance and encouragement from those people, who are now my friends?
What if I had not listened to that still, small voice telling me not to give up? Would I still be writing a weekly column that reaches around the world to places like Ireland, Kenya, Australia, France, Great Britain and many other foreign countries? This was definitely God’s plan, not mine.
In Mark 8:34-36, Jesus tells His disciples what it means to really live. Did these men live in luxurious homes or amass a fortune? No. But they gave up their lives to follow Jesus.
In a recent sermon, our pastor focused on this scripture. He said, “For years, I didn’t understand what Jesus meant.” Then, as he began to embrace what God was doing in his life, our pastor realized that “when we give our life to Christ, God gives us our life back.”
As Pastor Ray said, “It’s the paradox of the gospel.” There is, however, always the element of contradiction in a paradox, something that just doesn’t seem to make sense.
Does it make sense to throw away our lives for the sake of another? Some people live in fear of others taking advantage of them. Others live in fear of being hurt. Because they are so wrapped up in themselves, they never experience the great joy and satisfaction that comes from surrendering to Christ.
But Proverbs 22:4 tells us “True humility and respect for the Lord lead a man to riches, honor, and long life.”
Are you really living?
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