“that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Eph. 3:16-19
“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Phil. 3:7-11
Just when I thought I’d seen it all in the way of gross in my 1.5 years out on the road full-time for the Lord and ministry, I was sitting early one morning on my big comfy bed in my nice hotel room in a nice hotel in a nice part of town in a really nice part of the country in the midst of my nice few weeks trying to slow down some before heading out to my next destination when a massive roach fell down from heaven. Okay, not exactly from heaven. But, in truth, I heard a big crash and looked over to my left to discover the enormous roach had fallen down from only the Lord knows where – maybe the ceiling? It had jumped and crash landed beside me. But I thought I had left the rats and roaches and parades of naked and topless people painted behind in New York City. Wasn’t everything from there on in going to be easy, comfy, clean, pretty, and safe and secure?
In reality, in just one week in the nice hotel in the nice area, I had been propositioned by a young man who had communicated with me he would leave his hotel room door open for me to come join him, I had come back to the hotel to find it surrounded by police, canine police, ultimately a fire engine and police car – and a man in handcuffs. And a day or two later I had evacuated myself and the five dogs when a fire alarm had gone off along with the fire alarms in about five other neighboring businesses.
Obviously I should have gotten the point, right? When life isn’t as comfy and cozy as one desires, when happiness and easy living aren’t to be found 24-7 or even at all, we should throw in the towel, quit whatever we’re doing, and run for cover under whatever is most pleasing and pleasurable to our flesh, right? We should turn away from anything challenging and/or unappealing and chase after our wishes, ways, and wants so we can achieve our self-centered dreams and live happily ever after on earth, right?
The way of a Christ follower, friend, is to follow Christ. Wherever His Spirit leads us to do whatever His Spirit leads us to do all for the glory of God, realizing the greatest joy in this life is not about self but is about Jesus, believing in Him, following Him, loving and faithfully forever praising, worshiping, and serving God in Christ.
My life is easy and comfy compared to countless other missionaries, yet for me I’ve had my fair share of un-comfy situations out on the road. Roaches, rats, naked people, being propositioned by a young guy, talking to a man who told me he’d left a body somewhere and seemed to want to do some sort of a mass killing, being pricked by someone’s needle in my sink drain so I had to get HIV and hepatitis tested, having a man push himself up against my side and push my body forward to try to sell me drugs, inhaling tons of marijuana and cigarette smoke constantly in New York City when I have a medical condition related to smoke, talking to a murderer four days out of prison whom I had the pleasure of ministering to rather than running from, being told by an emergency plumber that he essentially would love to have sexual relations with me, and plenty of other not so comfy situations and opportunities.
Anyone in her right mind would call it quits. After all, why live on a bare-bones budget traveling around in a car with 245,000 miles on it with five special needs dogs to places I know nobody to talk to people I don’t know about Jesus with fewer possessions than I’ve ever had in climates I don’t always like in areas that aren’t always so pretty with smells, sounds, and plenty of other definitely not appealing things? With friends and family far away. With no sense of “home” in a physical way. In the world’s eyes, certainly I’m a fool. Roaches, rats, and all.
But I no longer live for me. I live for Jesus. And I can promise you from my experiences and most importantly from reading the Bible that those who repent and give themselves wholly to Christ no matter the cost to the flesh may experience hard stuff in this life on earth, but there is truly no greater blessing, honor, privilege, pleasure, and joy than to know Jesus intimately and to be in His forever fellowship and to tell the world about Him. To follow Him wherever He leads to do whatever He desires because HE IS LORD!
There can be a great loss when it comes to what God may call us to forsake in following Him, but forsaking the pleasures of this life to be closer and closer and more and more pleasing to Jesus – there is no comparison in the way of blessings. No greater gift than in accepting the roaches in this life, than in choosing the not always so comfortable life, to be in God’s glorious presence forevermore.
There are rewards for Christ’s followers to come, dependent on how exactly we who follow Jesus live on this earth, but truly there is no greater reward than the quality and height and depth and breadth and width and magnificence of Christ and His love and fellowship forevermore. Hallelujah, hallelujah, AMEN!
Roaches, rats, and repentance. Sometimes I have to repent of a bad attitude and a complaining spirit. Just like any of us, I can fall quickly and easily into whining over my circumstances and wishing things were somewhat if not altogether different. But always the Lord lovingly, patiently, mercifully, and graciously brings me back to a heart filled with thanksgiving that I have in my heart and life and as preeminent THE LORD JESUS CHRIST and an EVERLASTING RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM, oh, hallelujah, AMEN!