During this season of my life, very few things are more gratifying than seeing people I have cried for, prayed for, laughed with, counseled, and shared life with for months say “YES” to God. And that is exactly what I have experienced this month with Jonna, Brody, and Landon coming to YWAM Tyler for a Discipleship Training School (DTS).
I met these three in Lubbock on a recent trip where I planted a seed, then watched God lead them over the course of eight months to YWAM. This is exactly what I was hoping for when I went to South Texas on outreach with a team of committed friends from YWAM Tyler.
“If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
Make no mistake, the statement Jesus made found in Matthew 16:24 is not painting a picture of a plush life for followers of Jesus. Let’s break it down.
“Deny himself” ~ These words mandate sacrifice. Putting our plans, our desires, our pleasures, and our comforts on hold to seek what God wants for our lives. This is hardly what someone wants to hear when entering a new relationship, but Jesus knew that it was necessary.
“Take up his cross” ~ Carrying your cross can only be fulfilled by you, and that is your reason for God placing you on the Earth. Much of what motivates me is seeing others find their purpose, which creates ever-lasting motivation. You see the sacrifice aforementioned doesn’t seem as detrimental when you are operating within the framework of your purpose and calling. But it is impossible to locate that purpose if our thoughts are consumed with ourselves - goals, ambitions, perceptions. The succession of denying your human goals is necessary before acquiring Godly ambitions.
"Follow Me” ~ This is undeterred, committed, determination to God’s direction.
As I sit here this afternoon, I am compelled to say that for me denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following God is simply constantly about “drawing near” to our Father, and this can look a thousand different ways.
Following God can one day be apologizing for behaviors, as you’re committed to becoming more like Jesus. The next day following God could lead you into a conversation with a stranger at Starbucks. And for those that we meet on outreaches, we pray that following God will lead them to a decision that’s greatly sacrificial and highly centered around finding their reason for God placing them on the Earth.
We also hope they'll come to YWAM for a Discipleship Training School. That is why we go on outreaches. We want other’s to meet the God that saved our lives, hear they have an option to follow Him, and share the hope that God has a purpose for everyone we meet.