More Dying To Do (01/04/2013)
“In a way, I said ‘yes’ to following Jesus into the slums. But I was shown that I have more dying to do, more losing of myself. I learned that conversion to Christ is a process. Many more yes’s are needed after the first yes. But when everything wasn’t quite what I expected, I wanted to say ‘no’ so badly and I realized just how costly the invitation of Jesus to discipleship is.” -Karen Ngooi, international student from Malaysia studying at the University of Wisconsin
This past week, I attended Urbana. Urbana is a 5 day student missions conference held in St. Louis that cultivates in the current generation a love for God and for His purposes in the world.
I first heard about Urbana fall semester 2007 of my freshman year. Urbana 2006 had just taken place a year before and I have been anticipating my own participation in this conference ever since. As someone who has been out of college for about a year now and struggling with the post-graduate transition, I went into Urbana 2012 hungry to hear from God and for some inspiration.
I was not disappointed at Urbana.
God really spoke at Urbana. What I was hearing from God this week was that He is asking me to trust Him with my fears. Since I’ve graduated, I think the thing that has most kept me from moving forward with my life, among many other excuses, is fear. Fear that my family will not accept my decision to go into full-time ministry and fear that I will fail in some way. But throughout the week, I really sensed the urgency and the call to surrender our whole lives to Jesus. As Platt said in his talk, what in this life is more significant than this? What is more worth giving our lives to than this?
I found that during the week, I was running out of excuses. I found that I was getting tired of talking about the uncertainties of this stage of life and tired of my own excuses to delay being proactive about entering into what is next in life whether that be an internship, overseas missions, or full-time ministry in the states. I was tired of talking about how I don’t know and how I don’t know how to know. I believe that Jesus is saying, “Child, trust me. I am faithful. I am worth it. Come and follow me.”
In the end, I’m realizing that I want to follow Jesus but I really don’t want to lose anything in the process. I know it costs to follow Jesus. But, I don’t want to lose my security. There are so many things of this world that I love. I don’t want to lose them. But at Urbana, I fell in love with the Lord all over again. His heart for the world, for the lost, His invitation, His mission, His kingdom. It is all so unlike anything I’ve ever come across. So much more magnificent than I could ever hope for. My excuses, which were once all I could see before me became like tiny specks of dust making futile attempts to distract my eyes from the glory of His great invitation.
One thing that has really resonated in me throughout these past few days is something an international student from Malaysia said in her testimony before all of Urbana. “I have more dying to do,” she said. I am governed first by my fears and my petty desires. Instead of Jesus, I’ve let other factors set the agenda for my life. Jesus is not the center of my trust, dreams, and affections. I am learning just how much I don’t love Jesus. I am learning just how much I love my worldly reputation. I wonder, if I didn’t have people watching or if my actions did not result in some sort of reputation, how concerned am I for God’s glory? If He called me overseas, if my friends never saw me again or heard of anything I did for the rest of my life, would He still be worth it? Would His mission alone still be enough? If at the end of my earthly life, if I gained nothing in this world, if I lost it all, would I be satisfied with Jesus? If I had to be perfectly honest, my answer currently is, “No.” I still have so much dying to do.
My post-Urbana prayer is this: “Jesus, help me to die. Help me to know that you are worth all my trust, plans, and affections. Help me to die that I might live for you. Help me to die that I might have true life in you. Where You want me, where You lead me, help me to get there.”
I am learning that the hardships I might endure for His name’s sake is nothing compared to knowing Jesus. I am learning just how many more yes’s are needed before the end of this life. The reality of the hardships of following Jesus are starting to sink in more and more but I’m learning that His love makes it worth it all. There is nothing in this life more worth giving my life to than this. I need to leave the boat. I need to drop my nets. No more excuses. He is worth it.
Phil. 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”