Scrolling through social media, I see a lot of posts and kind words meant to encourage people on their various journeys through life. A sentiment I see often is one that is encouraging to those of us who may be experiencing the loss of friends and loved ones. Not in a sense that they are departing from this realm, but that relationships with friends and family members may become strained once you decide to take the path that God has called you toward. The posts usually say something like “There are certain people who can’t come with you where God is taking you…” Or something like that.
I’ve given that statement a lot of thought over the years as I’ve experienced shifts in my social life. I’ll admit I haven’t had to sever ties with very many people but that made me consider something else. I asked myself, If I’m not losing a lot of people what else should I be willing to put aside?
In the 16th chapter of Matthew, Jesus starts to talk to his disciples about the suffering he would eventually have to experience. Peter, in disbelief, pretty much told Jesus that would never happen to him. Jesus said,
“Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me. For you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
Matthew 16: 23-25
Peter was trying to tell Jesus that he should never have to experience what Jesus knew was his purpose. Then Jesus called Peter, or Peter’s attitude toward his calling, a stumbling block. But instead of kicking Peter to the curb and telling him “you can’t roll with me where I’m going if you’re not going to be supportive,” Jesus understood that Peter simply didn’t understand what his purpose was. So he reminded him that in order to do this whole will of God thing, we have to be completely prepared to deny parts of ourselves. The fear and anger that Peter was experiencing in regards to Jesus’ purpose, are also feelings that Jesus was feeling. But Jesus had to be willing to deny himself the luxury of letting those feelings steer him away from his calling because he knew what he was doing was bigger than himself.
That hits home for us control freaks. There are sacrifices we must make on our journey toward our purpose that require us to let go of familiar parts of ourselves. Just like everybody can’t come with us where we’re going, there are parts of our own lives and personalities that we are responsible for putting to the side.
Peter was one of Jesus’ hot headed friends. He wasn’t a perfect person by any stretch of the imagination. That encourages us that God is able and willing to use anybody to accomplish his will. However, Peter and all the other disciples had to give up their whole lives to follow Jesus and I’m sure they were constantly having to check their attitudes and behaviors so that they were representing Jesus well.
So today as you begin your week toward the end of Lent, what is it about yourself that you are unwilling to let go of that may be stalling your process toward your purpose. Is it your temper and lack of patience? Are you too used to being on your own time and can’t fully commit to the work God is calling you to do? Are you simply attached to people and places that don’t encourage your growth?
Today’s challenge is to be real with yourself, take responsibility for the thing or things about your own personality that might be holding you back, and tell yourself to let go of that.
Sometimes you have to lose a bit of yourself to level up. Everything you lose with be replace with better!