Like a lot of people my age one of the most popular questions I am asked is "what are you planning to do with your life?" I've been asked this since I was about 15 or 16 years old. The answer has always been "I don't know." And there is definitely a lot of truth to that. There is no way of knowing what we will do with our lives. As I've gotten older I have a better idea of what I'd like to do with my life. I'd like to get married and be a wife and mom. I'd like to homeschool my children. I'd like to continue to be a potter. I'd like to travel again and see more of the world and different cultures.
In the past few years my truest answer to the question is that above all I want my life to be a service to Christ and to bring glory to Him. Last semester I heard a sermon in which John the Baptist's words were talked about...
John 3:30 He must become greater; I must become less.
It's been occuring to me more and more recently that instead of spending my life focusing on advancing myself with relationships and a dazzling career my focus should be on dying. To myself.
Usually when we ask someone what they plan to do with their life they tell their plans for getting a degree that will bring them lots of money or their plans to travel the world or of being famous (okay, that may be a bit more grand than some peoples' plans but you do hear plans like these fairly frequently). But I'm starting to understand that to be a Christian means that each day we surrender more and more of ourselves to Christ and allow Him to lead and direct us. We are not supposed to seek fame and glory for ourselves but instead to direct all praise back to God. We're supposed to become less while God becomes greater.
Matthew 16:24 says "if any man will follow me, let him take up his cross, and deny himself and follow me." To follow Christ is to die. Or to start the process of dying. But only to ourselves and our sinful desires.
I don't know about most people but death is not something I want to think about and it's certainly not something I want to experience any time soon. I want to experience life. And ultimately I do believe that life is a gift from God and is meant to be lived to the fullest. Relationships should be treasured, interests should be pursued...but nothing should be considered more dear or more precious to us than our relationship with Christ and as Christians our most important goal and desire should be to follow Him and know Him more deeply.
It's so easy to think that if we focus solely on serving Christ and dying to ourselves that we will miss out on so much and will be miserable. After all, the words "serve" and "dying" have rather negative connotations in our culture. But if we chose to live for ourselves we miss out on our very reason for existing...to know and love God.
This is just some stuff I've been thinking about a LOT lately and, to be honest, am struggling with. While I want to walk closely with Christ other parts of me want to live for myself too. Mainly because sometimes little doubts about whether I can trust Christ with my life and well-being rise up inside me. I'm aware that dying to ourselves involves a refining process that is painful and that to follow Christ involves sacrifice and suffering. I try to remind myself that nothing I could ever endure in Christ's name could be worse than what He endured for me. I also try to remind myself that knowing God also means knowing the truest love and experiencing excitement and adventure and having a true purpose in life. It helps me to put things back into perspective.
Well anyway, the main idea behind this post was that ultimately my plans for life are to die. To myself and to the things that separate me from a closer walk with Christ as well as to see Christ become greater in my life and in my world as I become less. And to squash the little part of myself that is afraid to see how this happens.