Saturday, May 24, 2008

Give yourself permission...

God gave me this as a small rabbit trail for a sermon I had prepared recently and I wanted to elaborate a little more about this topic.

It has been my experience that there is a whole lot of guilt associated with following God and leaving your family behind. When I first started pondering this, I assumed it was mostly female oriented, but as I have continued to look around and think back to what I have experienced, I have also seen men struggle with this topic as well. So based on what I have experienced, today's blog is for both men & women in the ministry.

It is okay to leave your family behind to follow after God!

I believe the enemy of our souls (a.k.a Satan) twists this biblical truth and uses it against us to make us feel guilty. Let me prove it to you in the word. Go to the book of Luke. Here we find numerous occasions where Jesus tells people to leave their families and follow him.

  • Luke 8:1-3--several women are mentioned, one is the wife of Chuza, Herod's business manager. Joannna leaves her family and her duties to follow Jesus.

  • Luke 9:24--Jesus is talking about giving up our lives to follow him and by doing so we find true life. This scripture will have multiple meaning to many of us. Here's why, if our lives are wrapped up in sports, then we need to give up sports. If our lives are wrapped up in our jobs then we may need to change professions. If our lives are wrapped up in our children, then we may need to give them up. Whatever it is in our lives that is consuming us, that is what we have to give up. Whether it's money, family, career, "church", position. Whatever it is, we must give it up.

  • Luke 9:57-62--Here we find two examples of people who want to follow Christ, but first they want to take care of their father who has just died, or they want to return home and say good-bye to their family and Jesus tells both of them no!

  • Luke 14:25-35--Once again the scriptures elaborate on the cost of following Jesus. Here we find Jesus saying we must love him more than our mother, father, wife, children, brothers, sisters, even ourselves.

So let's summarize, Luke tells us repeatedly that following Jesus is going to require sacrifice. That sacrifice may show itself in many forms, but the concept is still the same. I find that pastors are unwilling to sacrifice their families to follow Jesus because they are so guilt ridden that they are a bad mother, or a bad father. Or they've heard how other pastor's have neglected their family taking care of the "church". And they've determined that they will never be guilty of making that same mistake.

Here is where the truth comes to the forefront and Satan's lies are exposed. You see, God loves our families more than we do. He is much more concerned with their well-being than we could ever think about being. And somehow Satan has convinced us that if we surrender our lives to God and give our family to Him that somehow our children and our spouses will be damaged by allowing God to take care of them. Can you see how Satan manipulates our circumstances to make us feel guilty? In the end if we allow Satan to control this area of our lives we are ultimately telling God that He is not capable of caring for our families like we can and therefore we will not allow him to care for them at all. It then becomes our sole responsibility.

This is where the lie comes to it's full potential. This is when our families begin to be damaged. It is because we have taken the God ordained plan for our lives and put the reigns in our own hands. We now bear the weight of trying to take care of the people God has called us to as well as taking care of our families. This a burden that is much too heavy for us to bear alone bear.

It is at this point we can begin to realize that we have told God He is not big enough and we are bigger than He is, and our choices were better than His. It is at this point we must admit our smallness and the failure of our choices. When we let go of the reigns that truly belong to God and Him alone, we begin to feel the freedom all of us have received through the sacrifice of God's only son, Jesus Christ.

You see it's not about putting the church before your family or children. It's about putting God before your church and your family. When God becomes the reason you breathe, the reason you get up in the morning, the reason you exist. When you come to point that you can't possibly continue living unless you have Him, only then will your family (and your church) truly know the depth of the love and compassion Jesus has for them. And in turn, because of the relationship you now have with Him, you will also reflect that same love and compassion of your Lord & Savior, which is felt by your wife, your children, your mother, your father and everyone else you come in contact with!

So, going back to the beginning.... Give yourself permission to follow after God. The only thing that can come from it is good. If you give yourself completely and wholly to Him, you can guarantee He will take care of you and those you love.

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