Do you have that courage?
A good young man with power and wealth faced this challenge (Matthew 19:16-22). Jesus watched sadly as the young man walked away rather than answering the call to follow. The young man’s familiar “stuff” held this good young man in its grip. He chose not to wriggle free of the bondage he thought gave him life and chose to remain religious rather than becoming a disciple.
Every kind of addict struggles with the vise-grip hold of the familiar “fix” no matter how destructive it is. Every struggling sinner struggles with the denial that rolls in like a tide as she or he wrestles with rationalizing away the strong words of Jesus. Each person who wears goodness as his or her badge of honor struggles with the undertow of good appearances and appearing religious. For each, leaving the familiar and known, the comfortable and predictable, is hard — very hard. It’s not easy leaving what feels like everything.
On the other hand, God wants us all. He also wants all of each of us. He wants all of us because he is jealous for us to find life, to find purpose, to find meaning, to find grace, and most of all, to find him. The apostle Paul put it this way:
From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:26-27).
Paul had left everything — EVERYTHING! — to begin a life-long journey without a home and only a faith-defined direction (Philippians 3:4-14). He did what the good young man couldn’t do. He left all for Jesus.
Where do we feel most at home?
Where do we have the most friends?
Where do we feel most comfortable?
Where do we find our sense of familiarity and security?
Each of us must ask, “What would it take for me to leave all of this? Where could I find the courageous faith to begin a journey with no other destination but God and leave this behind?”
Why must we ask ourselves these kinds of questions? Because the Lord just might ask us to leave them behind and trust him. Even more likely, the evil one is very likely to attack those things to pull us away from the Lord.
The kind of courage we need to follow the Lord is woven into our spiritual DNA. Our heroes were actually flawed ordinary people like us, yet they summoned the courageous faith to surrender all and answer the Lord’s call.
Can we do that? Yes!
Will we do that? Each one of us must each answer that question.
We must know, however, that responding to the call of the Lord and leaving everything to follow him is in us!
Remember Abram? We know him better as Abraham. He had to face the challenge of leaving everything to follow God:
The Lord said to Abram:Go out from your land,
and your father’s house
to the land that I will show you (Genesis 12:1).
God basically told Abram:
Leave it all!
Leave it all and go to a place I will show you.
Leave it all and go, but you won’t know when I will reveal that place to you!
Whoa, that is a tough call from God!
And… Abram answered that call. He left it all and began his journey with the Lord. James’ short video today tells it clearly:
Yes, Abram answered that call.
He left his home.
He left his friends.
He left his relatives.
He left what was familiar.
He left the place where he became wealthy.
He left and followed the God he couldn’t see to go to a place he didn’t know:
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents… (Hebrews 11:8-9).
Whoa, that is a tough call to answer!
But that call is not unlike the call Jesus made to his first disciples (Mark 1:16-20). It is not unlike the call Jesus made to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-22). It is not unlike the call Jesus made to that good young man whose riches got in the way (Luke 18:16-23). Most importantly, it is not unlike the call the Lord is making to you and me. And this is the one call we must answer.
“Trust Me!” The Lord says to us. “Trust that I am not only God but that I am also good. Trust that I want what is for your best; not just what masquerades as best. Trust that I will go with you. Trust that I will go with you even when you can’t see me or prove that I am near. Trust that I go with you even when all outward circumstances seem to suggest the opposite. Trust that I go with you as you journey without knowing exactly where I am leading you. Trust and follow my call!”
A big key difference for us is that God has come to us and lived among us as one of us (John 1:14-18). He has risked, served, and submitted himself to our capricious loyalties and our malicious abuses. He went to the cross to show his love and prove that he is trustable — trustable because he has been where we are (Hebrews 2:14-18). He came so that we can know that he longs to be near to help us in our time of need as we follow him (Hebrews 4:14-16). Most of all, he came to be a pioneer for us so that we know following is worth the risk, effort, and cost of leaving (Hebrews 12:1-2).
While Abram didn’t have the example of Jesus, we do! And, we have Abram’s example. Plus, we have the promise that Jesus gave to all who follow him:
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first (Matthew 19:23-30).
What will it take for you — for me, for us — to leave the things that hold us back and follow in response to the Lord’s call?
What will it take for us to be like Abram?
The journey awaits!
For more questions for reflection and discussion on this video and these thoughts, please check out James Nored’s free downloadable resource for this week, a part of his Journey to Redemption Films — a journey you don’t want to miss!
In this series, James Nored and Phil Ware partner two pioneering ministries providing resources to reach coming generations. James is a minister, Executive Director of Next Generation for Christ, and author of the Story of Redemption Film Series, filmed in the Israel, U.S., and around the world. This series is designed to lead seekers to faith and strengthen the faith of believers. Divided into 5-6 minute video segments, it is great to use with social media, small groups, sermon series, families, and friends. Phil is President of Heartlight, Inc., a preacher for 40 years, author of five books along with hundreds of articles & 11 years of daily devotionals, coach for churches in transition, and a resource for missionary renewal. Phil’s verseoftheday.com devotionals are read by hundreds of thousands every day.
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