Following Jesus has never been easy. If we look back to ancient times we have seen that the cost of following Christ can be one’s own life. Even in modern times we have seen Christians being slain in other countries for their beliefs. Here in the United States where I live, we don’t see a lot of death and persecution for following Jesus. I honestly have never thought a lot about the cost to me personally for following Christ.
I’m the type of person that once I commit something, I am all in. Making the decision to commit is a process that takes a lot of careful thought andit often takes me a while to decide to make a commitment. So when I was first considering following Jesus, it took me a few months to determine how deeply committed I really wanted to be to the cause. I studied and read the Bible and looked into all the questions I had, and God faithfully walked with me and answered every one of my questions. In the end I decided that I 100% believed that the Bible was the inerrant word of God, that Jesus Christ was the son of God who died for me to give me salvation, and that God was the only true and living God.
In that moment I got on my knees and I told God “take me and use me as your tool. Take all of me. Take all of my life.” And He did! From that moment on, my entire life did a total 180. I have never been the same, because that’s the beauty of following Jesus. Obedience became the new cry of my heart. “Your will Lord not mine.” As I sought to follow Jesus and love Him with all my heart, soul, and mind, I also had more and more questions arise in my life. ‘If the Bible is true then why am I constantly suffering in pain and agony?’
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46
I was struggling with severe rage issues, depression, and even suicidal tendencies. So many things God healed yet so many things were left unanswered. I needed to know the truth of why I was so angry and why I still continued to fall into hopelessness and despair. It didn’t seem right. So I dove into looking and searching for answers. After an entire year of searching I finally came to my deliverance and then inner healing.
It was because of this long journey, that I began to find the truth that I am a survival of Satanic ritual abuse from the time of my birth. These things had to be revealed slowly, very slowly. One step at a time Jesus took me; He held my hand; He told me how much He loved me; that He would never forsake me. He never left me in the process of finding out the truth, that it was my own family who has been abusing me my entire life; that the people I trusted and loved the most are the ones who betrayed me. As I continued to walk in the truth and healing, I had to begin to really start to sacrifice.
Now I thought I had sacrificed before for Jesus. After all, I had completely changed my life. I gave up alcohol, drugs, dressing promiscuously. I changed the way I ate and tried to get healthy and started exercising. I changed everything I watched and tried to change the way I thought and acted. But that was just a precursor to the real sacrifices I was going to have to endure if I truly wanted to follow Him. Finding out the truth that was hidden from me my entire life was excruciatingly painful, but now I had to make a choice.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
I came to a crossroads and that was to follow Jesus or keep my life as it was. Jesus said ‘You’ve come a long way, you’ve made amazing changes and sacrifices for me. You’ve grown immensely as a Christian and in your walk of faith. But do you want to keep going? Do you really want to know the truth? Are you willing to give everything up to follow Me?’ Isn’t this the same question Jesus asked to the rich man who came to Him and said he lived a good life and had done everything right? Jesus response to him is “Sell all of your possessions. Don’t even go home and say goodbye, and follow me.” The rich man can only shake his head and walk away, because he can not imagine giving his up life to follow Christ.
Isn’t that so much of what we are doing? God is beckoning us and calling us down the Narrow Path and we refused to go down it. And as we take the much walked on path we don’t see anyone else on it at the time we’re on it so we think ‘this must be the Narrow Path.’ We think about all the things we’ve already done and sacrificed for him. We think about all the good things that we’ve been doing in his name. And we tell ourselves we are doing and sacrificing enough.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
When I got to that crossroads my choices to were to give up my own family or to follow Jesus into the truth. I’ve had to cut off all my relationships with my family except my husband and children. I had relationships with several members of my family and I could not continue to walk with Jesus and follow His truth and be with them. It’s been excruciating for me, but I cannot go back to my life the way it was before. I cannot walk away from the truth.
Maybe it’s just the way God created or me maybe it’s just in my DNA, but I cannot walk away from the truth. The truth is just inherently ingrained into the character of who I am. So I continued to follow Christ. It wasn’t just giving everyone up all at once. I had to do it slowly, one at a time. It started with not seeing them but only talking to them. Then not talking to them, only emailing them. Seeing some of them, but not others. Before I knew it, my family would not talk to me anymore because I was speaking the truth and that was not okay.
I want you to know I do not hold any anger or grudges toward anybody who has hurt me ever. I have forgiven them and I pray for them and ask Jesus to bless them. However that wasn’t all that I had to give up; it was only the beginning. As I continued to grow and learn to follow Jesus, I had to give up my friends, and my church. Church had become my life. It was my social life, my religious life, my everything. I was at church 3 or 4 days a week.
“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
When my friends began to turn on me, I had to just let them go. The truth was too painful for them. Then I had to walk away from my church home. The church that I was in when I found Christ and was baptized. The church I committed myself to. This church was my home and I had to walk away from it and give it up. We began looking for other churches hoping to find another church home, but God was not leading us to another church home. He was slowly giving me the understanding that church was not my home, that only God was my home.
I had to stop trying to make my home away from God and in a building. Instead I had to move closer toward Jesus. The closer I moved towards Jesus the further I have moved away from everything that the world tells us is good. Family, church, Facebook. If you’ve seen this video you know that I had to give up all social media. Following Christ meant giving up and completely deleting Facebook, Twitter, Instagram Etc. In some ways I can say I’ve felt isolated from this world.
It’s true in many ways I am isolated from this world, but that’s what it takes to be set apart. I am not of this world and I’ve been completely revolving my life around being ingrained into being a part of this world. Jesus is taking this world out of me and replacing it with more of Him because that has always been the cry of my heart, “more of you God.” If you want more of Him, then you have to learn how to sacrifice things that you love and things that you think you need; the things look absolutely harmless and good because everyone else is doing it, but are actually dangerous.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
As a homeschooling mom having a homeschool group was another important part of my life. Having homeschool moms for friends, meeting up weekly, having that place for the kids to play was important to me. Yet it is another sacrifice I’ve had to make. For some people who sounds terrible. You might think that doesn’t sound like God. Or why would you want to live like that?
Let me tell you that God has restored and replaced dead pieces of my soul. God has filled me with more love, hope, endurance and strength to face these things than I could have ever imagined even existed. God has given me the fortitude and perseverance to walk and be a soldier in His army. When Jesus tells me I’m a leader in His army, I just shake my head and say ‘I just don’t see it.’ What I do see is the infinite value and treasure of Christ.
That infinite value replaces Facebook, homeschool groups, churches, groups of friends and gatherings, because God is my Father and my family. He is my protector, provider, nurturer, counselor, Dr. He is my life. Did I come to this world so I could be with my family? No. Did I come to this world so I could be a part of a church? No. So I could live like everyone else? No. God brought me here for a purpose and a reason. To do His good work, and He has done the same for you.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose.
You are not here for no reason. You are not here by accident. You are here by divine appointment. The devil will use whatever he can to hold us down and keep us away from that divine appointment, and that is where the sacrificing must begin. If you truly want to follow Christ, then you have to know the cost. The apostles and disciples all knew the cost and they were willing to pay the cost in spades. As a matter fact, they called themselves blessed every time they had to pay the price to follow Christ. And I do too.
So today if you want to follow Christ and truly open up your heart, then offer your life to Him as a Living Sacrifice. It will not be easy, but oh how it will be worth it.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world,[c]but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.