I give up… It is the phrase that we use when someone or something is stronger than we are. It is often times something that I do very begrudgingly, or when I get frustrated with the way things are going.
However, I am learning to give up in a new way, and that is what I want to present today. The idea of giving up willfully, because it is what is best for each one of us.
15 years ago I was a self-made man. I had numerous companies, lots of employees, lots of bills and was living the American dream, so it seemed too many. What they didn’t know was that I was searching for anything that would fulfill my emptiness, and I tried most everything. It all cost… until I was bankrupt. Not just financially but morally, spiritually and eventually I felt like I lost everything.
When I met Jesus I gave up my life. It hasn’t been a fun process, and it hasn’t been a short process but, I am finally getting closer.
For the last couple of years I have been working in what most would consider a “secular” job. It pays, and provides a paycheck. However, the part about being “secular”, for me is that I am a part of people’s lives for a brief moment, but have no real way to have any lasting effect. I have been working, so we could keep up with the bills that keep coming even while I am doing ministry. During my self-made life, I created for us a huge amount of debt. I could have walked away from it when Jesus asked me to shut down the self-made world, and step into His world. But, I knew that it would not honor Him to walk away from a debt that was mine. So we have a big part of our monthly finances that pays for the old life… So we made the decision to step out of ministry and go back to work to get ahead and start to pay off some of the old bills.
Working is very different than what I have experienced in “ministry”. With ministry the focus is not on a product or a result, it is about the journey and sharing it with others. Ministry for me is about giving up my life, my desires, and my will and allowing myself to become a vessel for Jesus to be revealed through. It takes a lot of time and even more struggle, from my experience.
For the last couple of months I have noticed a shift in my heart. I enjoyed my job and the people that I worked with but I was becoming more and more discontent. It was getting harder to go to work, and even harder to be in people’s homes that had so many needs, but I didn’t feel like I could be a part of sharing with them what they really needed.
It would be pretty awkward for the guy that just installed your new stove, to stop by and ask, “How is life going?”
Since I met Jesus I have realized that there is nothing in this world that matters beside the people that are around me. So being, and seeing people’s lives for a moment but not being able to share with them, or really be a part of transformation in their life is very unfulfilling.
I have a lady that I help out. She is 78 years old and lives by herself. Her life is a mess of her own doing, so most people write her off. Even most of my friends who are Christians, can’t quite understand why we help, and give what we do for people who have “made their own bed”.
It really comes down to this. I am one of those people. I still carry a huge amount of debt from the choices that I made before coming to Christ. They are like a chain that constantly reminds me of the “good” life that I once led. Every month as we send off the checks, I am reminded of what we could do if those debts were gone.
The cool part is that I have given up… I am free from the past and I no longer choose to live that way. Maybe the reason Jesus hasn’t removed the debts yet, is that they keep me humble and it reminds me that I am so close to that person I once was. It could be me that is all alone and lost in this life still.
But, I gave up. I stopped running and instead turned to the One who could change everything… the One who could save me. And save me He did!
Jesus led me to the place I am today, a place where I love life, I love serving, I love the struggle, most days, and I love to represent Jesus. I can’t say it pays monetarily well so far, it does however fill something inside of me that can’t be bought. Peace, love and joy, patience, kindness and self-control, gentleness and faithfulness. This is what is beginning to show up more and more in my life. Things that this world—jobs, friends, sex, drugs, alcohol, money and stuff will never bring.
All this leads to giving up, both the good and the bad. So today is my last day at “work”. Now I am going to go back to helping people, serving and transforming our community. Loving people where they are at, and doing my best to lead them to my friend Jesus. The only one that is safe to give up too!
I am excited for the adventures ahead. I am excited to have time to write more and pray more and have coffee and lunch with people more.
I am most excited that I get to see what God is going to do with my life and with my family now that I have given up!