January 18, 2006

Give Up Everything?

?Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple? (Luke 14:33).

1502 page31 capord, Your Word says that in order to be Your disciple, I must give up everything. How do I do that? Do I spiritualize that Scripture text and say, ?If I am willing to give up everything, then I can be Your disciple.? But that?s not what it says.

If I literally ?give up everything,? I?ll have nothing to live on, and others will have to provide for my needs. Is that what You mean?

Your Word also tells us to eat, drink, and enjoy the works of our hands as gifts from You (Eccl. 2:24, 25). How do I embrace the good gifts of life that You have given me and yet give up everything?

I don?t ask these questions because I feel a need to ?sacrifice? something in order for You to love me. I know You love me. I am more sure of that than I am of anything else. And I am confident that as I continually ask You to change me, You are working in my life. But these questions still beg answers. Since I believe that everything You ask me to do or give up is for my benefit, I want to live faithfully and experience to its fullest the life of freedom that You promise. But I struggle with these words.

1502 page31When I think of the words ?to give up,? other words come to mind: renounce, abandon, leave, refuse, surrender, submit, hand over, entrust, disown.

When I think of the word ?everything,? I assume that includes my house, car, husband, job, family, friends, money, skills, talents, education, clothes, and food--present and future. When I think of a ?disciple,? I think of a learner, follower, believer, student, apprentice, advocate, promoter.

Is it possible that when You say that I must give up everything, You are not saying that I must give everything away, but that I must relinquish control of everything in my life? What would that look like?

?Any of you who does not renounce your house/home for Me cannot be My follower.?

It?s tempting to make our house or home a ?sanctuary? and find security through it. However, in the knowledge that where I am living is part of Your will, and that our home is a gift from You, Roy and I will seek to create a beautiful home in which people will see Your beauty manifested within its walls and its people.

?Any of you who does not surrender your spouse to Me cannot be My apprentice.?

You mean I have to relinquish control of trying to make my husband in Your image? This is a tough one, Lord. If only he would listen to me, he could really make some advancements in the Christian life! I guess that?s the point, huh? If I obey You and relinquish control of him, You can do far more in his life through my prayers and my loving him for who he is than all the ?advice? known to humankind.

?Any of you who does not entrust your money to Me cannot be My advocate.?

Why is entrusting all of my money to You so important in order to be Your disciple? Do You mean that if I relinquish control of all of my money, I will use my money for only those things that You can approve of? And if I continue to get to know You better, I will start using my money not merely on those things that You approve of, but more on those things that are important to You?

Father, please help me to give up everything I have to You. I?m still trying to figure out how to do it.

Bonita Joyner Shields is an assistant editor of the Adventist Review.