Dying to Self's Agenda

Monday, December 8, 2008

Dying to Self's Agenda

The set-apart women I admire most all had one very important thing in common – they were passionately, ardently, fervently in love with Jesus Christ. They put Jesus Christ above pleasure, riches, comforts, family, friends, and worldly applause. And they put Jesus Christ far above their own agenda.

Amy Carmichael sacrificed her right to be married and chose instead to spend her life rescuing 1,000 children from being sold into temple prostitution in India. Her romance with Jesus Christ far exceeded the most beautiful fairy tale ever written.

Sabina Wurmbrand sacrificed her right to live “happily ever after” with the love of her life, Richard, when it came down to a choice between saving her husband and standing up for her First Love, Jesus Christ. She inspired her husband to stand against those who were blaspheming Christ’s name, and as a result she and Richard were separated for ten long years.

Gladys Aylward spent all of her youth and beauty in a war-torn Chinese village – rather than pining after men – choosing service for the kingdom of God over marriage, family, and the comforts of this world. And as a result, a hundred violent prisoners were subdued into quiet obedience, two hundred orphan’s lives were saved, and thousands were pulled out of darkness into God’s marvelous light.

Catherine Booth laid down her right to a comfortable marriage and family life – not only allowing her husband to pour out his life for the destitute and dying, but serving right by his side as he did so. She chose all-night prayer gatherings, long days trudging through slums, and attack from the modern church over a stable existence in a cute home with a white picket fence.

When I study these women’s lives, I am astounded and inspired by their level of commitment to Jesus Christ. They didn’t just say He was their first love – they lived it. Whether they gave up their right to be married in order to serve Christ, or gave up the “happily ever after” lifestyle they’d always dreamed of, nothing was more important than protecting the honor of their Lord and King.

So it must be with us.

The more I study the lives of great Christian women, the more I recognize that our American culture (even the Christian culture) so often convinces us that this life is all about us rather than all about Jesus Christ. It is my desire, by God’s grace, to make all of my decisions, choices and attitudes based on the question, “How can I honor and glorify my King in this moment?” It’s a deliberate choosing to ignore what my flesh (and this culture) constantly encourages me to do, which is to ask, “What is best for me right now?” or “What do I feel like doing?”

Being a mother of three has offered boundless opportunities to lay down my own agenda and serve others for the glory of God. Tending to a crying newborn several times a night, and spending my best energies in changing diapers, pouring juice, and kissing “owies” (instead of taking a nap or relaxing on the couch with a book) are a few small ways I am learning to die to self’s agenda and live a poured-out life for the glory of God. However, I am convinced that these small victories are preparing for much greater opportunities to take up my cross and follow Him. After all Christ said, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is also faithful in much” (Luke 16:10 NASB).

I would encourage you to look at the challenging areas of your life. Are there areas, even small areas, in which God wants to teach you how to lay down your own agenda, die to self, take up your cross, and follow Him? It may not seem like an exciting path at first, but it is the doorway into the fullness of all He has for you. The heroic women of history past all had to begin living a poured-out life in the small areas of their daily existence. And because they were faithful in little, God entrusted with much. Are we willing to follow in their footsteps?*