So many times in life we question whether or not we are on the right path. We stress over the thought that maybe our potential is being wasted, or we are wasting it ourselves, and that our purpose is being misguided behind a shroud of fog called “the norm”. I know that this has been the case for me many times. I struggled to find myself throughout my high school years, and even though I was confident in who I was, I knew there was so much more outside the walls I had accepted as my limits. Peer pressure, being cool, and wanting to just be the guy everyone liked, were my main influences in how I acted, and behaved in school. I was never a bad guy, or someone to hate, (at least I hope not), but I was never the guy I knew I could have been. My faith, which now guides my every move and thought, was not where it should have been. The opportunity I had to make a stand, and become someone to look up to, was somewhat less than it could have been. I may have made a difference for good, but how much more could I have done?
Fast forward to Freshman year of college, and the pressure of being a part of the in crowd grew even more. I spoke the opposite of wanting to fit, but doesn’t everyone? We say we want to be different, but then our actions speak a different story. I made compromises with not only my natural morals, but also with my faith. Once again, I was not lost in a whirlwind of bad decisions, but I knew that who I was, was not who I needed to be.
I could very easily continue on, and write about all of my mistakes, and give countless ways I should have acted, and responded towards the temptations that came with attending college, and wanting to fit in, but that is not where my heart is at; at least not today. I want to highlight the triumph, and beauty of breaking the mold.
We are told from a young age that we must speak, act, and move in a certain way by our peers. Our parents, guardians, and lead figures in our lives rarely receive our full admiration until we are much older. They can speak with wisdom, and love all that they want, but we will refuse to hear them. We listen to the voices, watch the actions, and mimic the behavior of our so-called friends, and peers. We place such importance upon their every critique, and we simply want to gain widespread acceptance from the ones whom we interact with on a daily basis. If we gain the cheers, high-fives, accolades, and boasts of others, we think we have achieved.
Within this mesmerizing mirage of “love”, these people do not see the true us. The masquerade in which we believe is acceptance, flows from the saddest of places. Those who praise us today, can tear us apart the next. They have gained their views from social media, movies, articles, shows, magazines, and internet sites that tell them how they should act, believe, understand, and proceed in life. I want to be something more…
As a christian, my life is centered around my faith. I want to be sold out for my God. But what does it mean to be sold out? What does it mean to die to myself, and give up my dreams for the King of Creation? How can I possibly have a good life, if I give everything that I am up to Him? The answer is found in Matthew 10:39, and Luke 9:24.
“He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Luke 9:24
“…he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” How can that be?
And then “…whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,”. How can I save my life by losing it, and lose my life by trying to save it?
It all comes down to faith. The Lord has the power to give us abundantly more than we could ever imagine. The dreams that we have for ourselves cannot even compare to those God has planned for us. My dream was to play football for the Dallas Cowboys. I now know that such a dream is not very plausible for me. (For many reasons) As I lost hope in that dream, I decided to begin a transformation. If I could not have the dream my flesh always wanted, then I wanted what God wanted for me. I should have always been more focused on Him, but I wasn’t. I came to a place where I knew that the plans He has for me are greater than any I could have for myself.
“Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” Ephesians 3:20
I began to pray fervently, and persistently that God would reveal to me the dream He had for me. I knew it was there; I needed to find it. I craved to have His desires for me! Little did I know, God had been working such a dream within me for years, and eventually He revealed it to me. From there, my goal was to give everything I had to Him. From trips across New Mexico, Ohio, Florida, Arizona, Arkansas, Texas and eventually across seas into Israel, He was teaching me how to follow His plan. My focus was pure, and my intentions unabashed. I wanted to soak up EVERYTHING God wanted me to have, hear, and understand, and I wanted to give up ANYTHING He asked. There were things in my life that were not necessarily bad, but God asked me to give them up. As hard as it was, I gave up certain music, shows, words, and decisions that I never thought affected me, but I knew what God was saying deep down.
Once I gave in, my world changed. I was no longer depressed at any time, nor was I ever sad, misguided, disturbed, angry, or lost within questions about my life. Every morning was full of joy, and that joy carried me through my day. I found that my words carried more weight, and the people I came in contact with began to love me for me, and not my portrayed image. I no longer tried to be something I was not. I was finally just Nate/Nathan.
“…the joy of the Lord is your strength!”
I started waking up with worship music blaring, and a heart intent on pleasing my heavenly Father. I realized that prayer became my greatest weapon, and the word of the Lord, my rock of solidification. I spoke with love, and kindness, and dedicated myself to being not only a Godly man, but a genuine one at that. I wanted people to see a man who had given his all, and came out more blessed than ever before. I wanted to be a man after God’s own heart, and I longed to be His humble servant.
None of this is written to boast of myself. I am still fighting on this journey, and I am having to give everything I have, every single day. On the days that I do not, I obviously suffer. Crucifying my flesh, and living for Him is not always easy, but it is always worth it.
So… now to the question of “what if…?”
What if you gave your all? What if you said your family takes a back seat? What if you said your relationships, your dreams, your aspirations, friendships, hobbies, music, clothing, speech, goals, games, and everything else under the sun, moon, and stars is less important than Christ?
What if you looked at all you have ever wanted and proclaimed that it was dust compared to His will for your life? It is not easy, and the process is difficult, but the end result is a happiness, joy, peace, and sincerity you find within yourself that cannot be defined. It is unexplainable, and irreplaceable by any other force. The void we carry can only be filled by Him. We can try to place our dreams, and other worldy fillers within the void instead, but the outcome remains a loss.
Hannah from 1 Samuel amazes me. She wanted a son so badly that she would weep, and plead with the Lord.
“Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” 1 Samuel 1:11
Hannah cried out to God for a son, and promised God that if she were to be blessed enough to have him she would give him right back to the Lord. That is the kind of devotion I want to have for my King. She weaned her son and gave him immediately to Eli in the temple. What amazes me so, is the joy in which she gives over the son she prayed so diligently for. Right after giving her son up to Eli, so that he grow up worshiping the Lord this is what Hannah proclaimed according to 1 Samuel 2:1-2:
“Then Hannah prayed and said: “My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance.“There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” 1 Samuel 1:1-2
She gave it all, and rejoiced through it.
So ask yourself; Am I really giving my all? I must ask the same. I know there is so much more I can give. The question is, am I willing to give it? Such a challenge may take time, but why can I not give back what the Lord has given me?
You see, this life that I call my own, was never mine in the first place. He breathed life into me, which means He gave me this life . I didn’t buy it, steal it, grab it, or make it. He freely created, and gave it!
On top of it all, He sent His son to then redeem me from my sin. Unimaginable pain, torcher, grief, and anguish came upon Jesus for me. The weight of sin had clearly been cast upon him. He bled, and was broken, but yet he called out to the heavens asking for his Father to forgive those who had ripped the flesh from his bone.
If he gave his life for me, why would I ever imagine not giving him mine?
What if the rich young ruler from Matthew chapter 10 had sold all of his possessions and followed Christ? Who could he have become? Would we look at him as a great man of the Bible? Maybe so…
What if those prayers you uttered unanswered are a result of holding something back? What if He’s ready to take you to heights never imagined, even in your dreams? What if you’re not growing because you haven’t released it all? What if it really does come down to dropping it all for Him? What if He asks that you give up something you love? Maybe everything you love? Ask God, with an open heart to reveal to you those things which are holding you back, whether you agree they affect you, or not. He’ll show you…He showed me…
Are you ready to be you?
From an imperfect man striving for God’s will, I pray you take this to heart. Much love,