Throughout the spring, I have been fighting a restlessness that I can’t quite put my finger on. Earlier this week, I watched a YouTube video featuring highlights from a sermon. I can’t point to anything specific that I heard, but somehow, I was reminded of the kind of life that Jesus called us to live. It stirred a feeling inside of me that I can only describe as a determination not to settle for an ordinary life. I don’t think that blending in with society and being part of the crowd is what God wants from me. In my reading on Monday morning, I was struck by these words of Paul that were recorded in Acts 20:24: “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” It makes me feel like I am not living up to God’s calling for my life. This isn’t the voice of the Devil trying to discourage me. The words in my head are Jesus’ from the Sermon on the Mount. He described living in a way that was radically different from the world. He took the law that His hearers knew and explained how they should really be living it out. The message wasn’t legalistic rules, but rather love and mercy that flow from the heart.
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
What is niggling at me is that my heart is not aligned to God’s. I am living “sort of” differently from how the world lives, but I fear that few would notice any distinction. Not only do I not love people the way that God does, but my heart doesn’t want to love. I don’t want to make the sacrifices. I want to stay in my comfort-zone and obey in the things that are easy for me. I have often written about my mantra of no compromise in order to get married. Yet every day I make thousands of other compromises when it comes to obeying my Savior.
Committed – it is right there in my blog name. But am I really committed to following Jesus and living as He has called me to live? Or am I picking and choosing the commands I want to follow? Am I simply just trying to be less sinful than the average person? Turn the other cheek. . .love your enemies. . . I look at my life, and find that in many ways I have been perfectly content to blend in with the rest of the world. Now, I am becoming uncomfortable with “ordinary” or “average.” I’ve always thought that I wanted to fit it and be like everyone else, but fitting in isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”
At work, I always strive to be the best. I am not really ambitious to climb any ladders, I just instinctively strive for perfection and excellence in the place that I am. I challenge myself to be efficient, knowledgeable, and always seeking improvement. I hate making mistakes, but I try to learn from them. Going the “extra mile” at work is just part of who I am. But I look at the rest of my life and realize that I am not nearly as committed to serving God as I am to serving my employer. I don’t always give God my best or even strive to, the way I do at work. I don’t like to sin, but mistakes aren’t as hard to swallow when only God knows about them. What does it say about me that I seem to care more about what people think of me than what God thinks of me?
I am not certain of my first steps to change this pattern, but I know that I want to be more committed. I want to live extraordinarily for God, not so that others can see and praise me, but so that God can use me. It seems, then, that first steps should be to set right my motives. A greater commitment to God needs to flow out of love for Him, or else it will be worthless. I pray that God will help me to desire Him above all else in my life. I have been praying this since I read Beth Moore’s book, Audacious, earlier this year. It occurs to me that perhaps all of this restlessness within me is a result of this prayer.
I can’t pretend to know what God is doing, but He must be at work. Now that He has my attention, I need to respond. My response, I think, must be striving for obedience and holiness. Don’t think that this discourages me. In the midst of this restlessness, I have found a sense of optimism. There is joy knowing that God is at work in my life and in my heart. That is a blessing; that is happiness.