A priceless gem recently surfaced while rummaging through a collection of my old valuables. Seeing the familiar book brought back many memories. I couldn't help but smile. It was my journal from the sixth grade—unlike any other. In August of 1995, I wrote about surrendering my life to God. I was only twelve-years-old at the time.
Twenty-two years later, my commitment to Christ is even more steadfast than when I first believed. God developed my faith through many seasons of joy and hardship, (and continues to refine me). And though I embraced the joy at twelve-years-old, I don't think I ever fully grasped the lifelong hardship involved in surrendering.
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”
1 Peter 4:12-13, NIV
The Christian life is meant to be hard.
But despite hardship, Christ continually calls us to follow him.
To sacrifice more to spend time with him.
To wrestle with his Word even when we don't understand it all.
To trust him when he tells us to wait.
To step out and initiate gospel conversations.
To put aside our agendas and love somebody.
To give to someone who is in need.
To love him even when things get hard.
To follow him by fully surrendering our life to him.
“' and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.'”
Matthew 10:38-39, NIV
Yes, the Christian life is hard. I never knew the magnitude back when I was twelve. But I also never comprehended the magnitude of joy and peace in finding God amid my suffering.
Today we begin week three of our study of Matthew. Feel free to join in at any time! This week we will study chapters 8-11. Click here for the reading guide. (The reading guides contain questions and writing space to help direct your study of Scripture.)
Photo: Mariana Vusiatytska