Monday, November 2, 2009

Giving Up

Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to be born again. He told the rich young ruler that he had to give away all his possessions. I think being born again is much easier.

I recently was told by a catholic classmate that I couldn't be a minister because I am married. She said that a priest should give their "whole" life to God. I tried to explain to her that we Protestants feel that we can give our whole lives to God and be married. She didn't buy it. She has a point though. Take monks, for instance. Monks give up a lot for the kingdom, and there is something to be said for that. Father Philip, a monk of my age that I met this past summer, is alone in a small, dimly lit room tonight, probably in silence. He will probably spend his nights this way for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, it's all I can do to find a moment to write this blog. Many people will scoff at the monastic way of life. I certainly do not. The monks point us to the deeper reality of what it means to live for God alone. We can all learn to live for God alone, married or not. Thus, the monks have something to say to us all.

What does it mean to give up something for God? I once heard a preacher say that he sensed God telling him to give up soft drinks, and so he never drank another one from that moment on. I wish it were that easy for me. Old habits die hard. But this afternoon as I was driving home in silence, in my moving monastic cell, God spoke to another rich young man. Perhaps I place too much emphasis on giving things up. Perhaps God is less interested in us giving up things as He is in us giving up on things. Maybe I don't need to give up soft drinks as much as I need to give up on the idea that they can make me happy. I need to give up on the idea of anything making me happy other than God. Because nothing can. Jesus knew the rich young ruler could never be as happy in his palace as he would have been laying beneath the stars with the Creator of it all. The monks are not just giving up comforts, they are embracing the Comforter.

Of course, giving up on things may entail the giving up of things. So I will continue to stumble towards the freedom and joy of living for God alone. I only pray that He never gives up on me.

1 comment:

  1. " I need to give up on the idea of anything making me happy other than God"
    wow've said a lot here. and right you is surely not as easy as it sounds. it seems to me in my own experience that it is definitely not 'easy' to give up material things, creature comforts, etc...but what i find to be most difficult is learning to trust wholly in Him for peace/love/fulfillment/joy/happiness...for all the things i need (not just salvation). i always seem to want to hedge my bet by latching on, friends, fellow believers, etc...and, make no mistake, reliance on them has its place (and is, in fact,healthy and good), but clearly we must be prepared for the let down...these imperfect, falliable beings will disappoint, will fail, will not always come through. why is it so hard for us to put our faith solely in Christ alone? not just for salvation but for all that comes with the 'abundant life' he has promised us ... and when it seems i can't live without something, when i can't walk away from it on my own, sometimes God takes it. and it hurts. but then, through this loss, it God teaches me again that all i need is Him. whether it is the loss of a loved one, the loss of what we thought our life was 'supposed to be', the loss of a dream, loss even in the simple, basic use of our own body,...the key seems to be not to miss the message. whether we seek happiness, contentment, love, peace, fulfillment,freedom whatever it may can be found -- in Christ alone. Lord may we continue to learn this lesson as we inch our way to full and utter trust and faith in you alone for all that we require.