Have you ever felt like you should be doing something but wanted absolutely no part in it?
An event organizer gave me a pair of unclaimed gorgeous sunglasses somebody’d left at a fundraiser. They were a super expensive brand I could’ve never afforded on my meager salary, and I got compliments every time I wore them.
I brought them with me on a Zimbabwe mission trip and befriended a woman there who kept complimenting my sunglasses. She was really sweet and taught me all these wonderful things about life there—how to draw water from a well and how to bind myself in one of those neat cloth wraps so I could carry one of the village babies on my back like a local. She was so much fun to be around. But she kept teasing me about my sunglasses, telling me I should give them to her.
“Sorry, these are the only pair I brought. I need them for the rest of the trip,” I finally told her, and shrugged it off.
There was no way I planned on giving away those gorgeous hand-me-down shades! I’m sure she understood, but I felt shame nonetheless. In fact, I felt that odd, unmistakable nudge, that strange, sacred whisper, settle upon my heart.
“You should give them to her,” the voice said.
But I pushed that voice away. Nope—those glasses were mine.
We left Harare a few days later and headed across the country toward Gweru. Then it happened—I slid the glasses on top of my head to take a picture, and they tumbled to the ground with a clatter and broke in two. My fancy glasses were no more.
Immediately, I knew why they were gone. I was supposed to have given them to my new friend, not keep them for myself. I’d been selfish and ignored a call from God, and now my glasses were gone. Neither of us would get to enjoy them.
That twinge of shame came back, this time far stronger.
The lesson I learned reminds me of what Jesus was trying to teach His disciples midway through His ministry, when He began showing them He would suffer and die at the hands of the Jewish chief priests and elders, yet in three days be resurrected.
As Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26 ESV).
The word deny comes from the Greek aparneomai, which also means disown, disregard, or reject. Here, it seems Jesus is saying it is far better to strive for selflessness, putting our own interests and wants or needs aside, than to acquire material possessions, wealth, or even personal safety. After all, the soul is eternal, but the earthly body is temporary. The better course is to choose personal sacrifice, to put Jesus and other people above ourselves.
When I felt God nudging me to give away my sunglasses, I see now He was nudging me toward personal sacrifice. And when those sunglasses got destroyed, it hammered home the point: They are only metal and glass, breakable and… Click To TweetWhen I felt God nudging me to give away my sunglasses, I see now He was nudging me toward personal sacrifice. And when those sunglasses got destroyed, it hammered home the point: They are only metal and glass, breakable and temporary. In my moment of selfishness, I chose the temporary over the eternal.
Sometimes it’s really hard to do what God asks. Sometimes selflessness or sacrifice involves something minor like a fancy pair of sunglasses. Looking back, I realize how silly I was to be so possessive about name-brand glasses that weren’t even mine to begin with.
Other times, God asks us to sacrifice something much bigger. He might want us to quit our cushy job with a pension and health benefits and go out on our own in a risk of faith. He might lead us to move to another country so we can help people in need. He might ask us to serve as a martyr for Christianity.
I hope the next time God calls me to something I don’t want to do, I have the courage and foresight to stop and truly listen to His voice. I pray I realize there is absolutely nothing on earth that warrants saying “no” to God. Click To TweetI hope the next time God calls me to something I don’t want to do, I have the courage and foresight to stop and truly listen to His voice. I pray I realize there is absolutely nothing on earth that warrants saying “no” to God. Not a pair of fancy sunglasses, not a great retirement package, not even this body I’m blessed to be walking around in.
God gave us life. And God promises us salvation when we believe in and follow His Son, Jesus. We owe God everything, the least of which is our obedience and our sacrifice.
Have you ever struggled with saying yes to God when He asked? How did you respond? Would you respond differently today?
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