Our reading comes from Matthew, chapter 8:
I accepted Jesus as my Savior 13 years ago. However, I did not accept Him as Lord of my life, until several years later. Many times, we say the two as if they are interchangeable. However, they are definitely not. I see the truth of this here in chapter 8.
I wanted the gifts of grace and salvation that Christ had to offer, but I did not want to turn all of my life over to Him – Just the parts that I needed help with (family relationships.) However, there were several areas of my life that were going just fine (job and finances, for example) and I could take care of that all by myself.
See, I wanted the power that Jesus had to offer, but I was afraid of the cost. Jesus is great for healing, saving, and restoring. But I didn’t want to know what it might cost me to be a full on follower: tithing, lifestyle choices, my pride. So I resisted giving Him space in any place except what was absolutely necessary.
Then, He gave me the greatest gift of all time – the crucible. I call it the crucible because I was completely transformed during the experience from being a lukewarm Christian to being a Spirit-led disciple of Christ. Hint – Do you know how you go from being lukewarm to Spirit-led? BY FIRE!
That is right. 6 months of my life walking through fire – Divorce, job loss, home loss – everything gone. But the great thing is, Jesus walked through it with me. And I got to know Him, intimately. And I began to trust Him. I learned to worship Him. And I learned something else. The cost of following Jesus is negligible in comparison to what we receive.
I treasure my time in the crucible. It was there that I found my life – the life I was so afraid of losing by following Him. I found my calling, my foundation, and my purpose. I am so thankful that He did not allow me to follow the example of the Garasenes in this passage. They were afraid of what they would lose by allowing Him into their lives, and so they rejected Him. And He let them. He allowed them the free choice of saying no to Him, and look at what they lost. Yes, they held onto to their lives, livelihoods, and feelings of self-control, but in exchange for what? A lifetime of blessing and an eternity of joy and wholeness.
Free will is not always our friend is it, brothers and sisters?
How I praise You. How I thank You for this wonderful life You have provided me. To live in Your presence daily is the greatest treasure I can imagine. I can’t believe the things that kept me away from You for so long – meaningless, worldly treasures that didn’t add one day to my life. I am astounded by Your grace toward me and my self-centeredness. And I am amazed at Your patience.
Help me to live this and every other day as Your servant, in the middle of Your divine will – where ever it takes me.
In the name of my Savior I pray,