For a couple months, Jesus and I have been having this low-key interaction about how challenging it is to pursue living at an ‘elder’ level of maturity. I’m not sure I like it! It is played out by putting many of my desires and wishes on hold. And pushing outside of my comfort zone. It means that I do not get to choose whom I will love. It requires the capacity to look out for everyone in tense and traumatizing situations, making certain everyone is cared for, and no one is overlooked. Putting my needs temporarily on hold, while also somehow juggling into the situations my own self care. It is tricky. It takes practice. It is confusing at times. It is stretching. It is uncomfortable. It can hurt. At times I will be misunderstood and falsely judged for my motives. At times I will not have my love reciprocated.
I’d rather save my self from all this discomfort! You know- like save my life! Sure doesn’t feel like the second part of that statement Jesus said is accurate. If I save my life I will be actually losing it. I like my idea of saving my life from the above dynamics!
Jesus reminded me of a conversation He had that is recorded in Luke 14, starting in verse 28.
“Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’
Hmmm. What about my idealized goal to grow up into the highest level of maturity I can, so as to love well and care for the wounded?! Those plans! I’ve worked hard over the years to have “my foundation” restructured so that ‘my house’ would be strong when the storms come. And that I could even be a haven for others during storms.
But Jesus has led me into some very challenging situations recently, and I’m aware that my “foundation” is still shaky when some kinds of ‘earthquakes’ come along. It is not easy to revisit the foundation with the Master Builder. It is not comfortable or easy to keep on loving well.
I almost had a ‘crisis of faith’. Not that I questioned if there was a God or if I was in His family. But my belief that it was truly worth pursuing what God says is in my best interest. To grow up and love well when it requires suffering. To join Him in fellowship of His sufferings!
I mean, really! Wouldn’t it be ok for me to remain at my status quo and be a kind person without extending myself too much into the more agonizing situations? Wouldn’t it be ok to live a life of ‘second best’, of more comfort than pain?! And surprisingly, I sensed that Jesus was going be ok if I decided to do just that! He does not need me to keep growing and stretching out of my comfort zone. He will love me and be with me regardless!
So again this morning, before getting out of bed, Jesus and I had quite the conversation! He reminded me that He is not into minimizing truth. He tried to warn people when He said they would have to pick up their cross to follow him. Yikes! He knew first hand it wasn’t just a sentimental Bible verse!
If I am to follow Him on the path of radical love, then the cost will be high!
He had me thinking about how tragic it is when people don’t keep pursuing wholeness and maturity! The result is many casualties of people not being loved well. Of harm. Depression. Addictions. Suicides. Precious people being left adrift. Loneliness. And on and on it goes! And there is the brutal void of people loving well those who are struggling!
He had me aware of how, regardless of how hard it has been, it is pretty remarkable how my own years of pursuing wholeness resulted in my recently being able to love so much more tenderly and efficiently than I have in years past. Without completely crumbling or becoming angrily demanding. There is a remarkable benefit to having the maturity to be able to withstand the blows when the ‘trials and temptations’ come that He warned of. I sensed His smile this morning and a gentle but proud “Bravo, Dear Heart!”
As I lay longer in bed, I sensed Him gently singing over me “It Will Be Worth It All When You See Jesus… Earth’s trials will seem so small when you see Me…”
So, while still weary, I am going to keep Jesus (and also Paul) as my examples of inspiration. I will keep running the course of ongoing growth and love and mercy and compassion and kindness. And at the finish line I will gladly run into the arms of my very proud God!