This is something that I wrote a while back, but in the last week as I've been thinking about things like humility, service, and surrender, I have been reminded of these words. As I reread them this morning I felt like they were fitting for this place where I'm standing, so I thought I'd share them.
. . .
It seems that all the things worth doing in this life are messy, and I don't like messy. And yet relationships are always that way. I keep thinking (mistakenly) that as I get better at loving people that things will work out better, go more according to plan. Those last five words expose me. I want some sort of control. I want to know what comes next. I want formula. I want to know that if I do my part, then I will get some predictable result. Loving people doesn't work that way.
Ultimately loving anyone means surrender. A perpetual giving up. Laying down my plans. Trading in my agenda. The church keeps telling me that I have to surrender to Jesus, which is true, but I need a continual reminder to shrink down below others as well. This is what Paul meant when he said that in humility I should consider others better than myself. In theory this works out fine. And on the days when all is going well, it seems like a pretty good idea. But on those other days, when someone cuts me off on the road and the waitress is rude and my friends hurt my feelings (or I hurt theirs), surrender is complicated. Instead of shrinking down, my heart cries out, "What about me?"
This is where things start to get messy and the point where my strong leanings toward avoidance kick in. I am more prone to walk around the mess than through it. Nurse my wounded pride and walk away. But if I am serious about living as Jesus did I've got to willingly enter into the messiness that is my life and theirs and all the complications that come when we try to do life together. I think this was the point of Christ's humanity. He willingly left the right hand of the Father to come down here and walk right through our messy lives because that's what love is. In humility, Jesus decided that my life was more important than His. And I'd like to believe that because He was fully God that somehow his decision to surrender was easier than mine, but I need look no further than Gethsemane to see that even for God surrender is not an easy thing.
So I have no choice but to give up. Who am I to demand that my life be neat and clean and predictable and that I be given what I think I deserve? And is that really what I want? What I want more is to be able to really enter into the messiness of life and give up enough of me so that someone, anyone, everyone could know what Jesus meant when He said love. But the reality is that Jesus wasn't really as into talking about love as much as He was into living it, and He lived out this love in the messiest places He could find. Turns out the religious people in those days hated messes too, so much so that they killed Jesus.
And that's the fork in the road where I find myself everyday…I can sacrifice Him or me. Somehow this decision used to be easier, or at least that's how it seemed; I now wonder if I've ever fully sacrificed myself for Jesus or anyone else. Where is my Gethsemane ? Jesus fell to the ground "overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death" as He struggled with the decision to give up His life for mine. My prayer is that God might strengthen me (or make me weak enough) so that I can struggle forward to a place where I might choose someone else above myself…a deceptively simple request. And maybe I never quite make it, but my heart is that I would move a little more in that direction everyday of this messy life.