Don’t you love when God takes verses that you have heard a million times and then has you reread them after He gives you a fresh pair of glasses?
I sure do. And tonight, He gave me that– actually, he is still giving me that, even as I write, because writing has always been my primary mode of external processing.
What verses sent me into this mental tizzy? Interestingly, it was a story found in Luke 18 that I have generally regarded as biblical cliche (I am a horrible person for labeling any verses as this now that I think about it…)– the story of Jesus talking to the rich young ruler. This guy had everything in his present life, but he realized that there’s more to life than what is here on earth, so he asked Jesus how he could inherit eternal life. Jesus answered,
“One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
Ok, so I have heard this story, like, a thousand times in my lifelong career at church and 7 year career at Heritage Christian Academy. Until tonight, I have glazed over them, thinking, “Of course, yes, we are supposed to give up everything we have for Jesus.”
Yes, God, I will sell my nice clothes and use the proceeds to sponsor an orphaned child.
Yes, God, I will donate my time every week to volunteer as a Sunday school teacher for adorable yet annoying kindergartners.
But wait…what about my expectations for my life? No, God, those are mine!
I may not be monetarily wealthy (poor college student, you know), but I am extremely wealthy in how God has gifted me. Now, before you call me cocky, I believe everyone is wealthy in their own way, whether it be in their ability to show compassion or their artsy-ness or how much weight squat.
For me, it’s my brain. I feel like most people who know me recognize that, and that has caused me to put a lot of my value in its abilities. Since it got me recognition from a young age, I learned early on to use it as a tool for my own glory.
So, naturally, as a Christian, I need to lay it down and use it to serve Jesus, right?
Yet, I have been through the whole “lay down your life plans for Jesus and do what He wants for your life” conundrum already back in high school. I gave up my dream long ago to be a Nobel Prize-winning scientist and instead be a medical missionary in Morocco.
Isn’t that enough? I already altered my whole freaking life plan for You, God. That was a catabolic explosion in my life. What more could you be asking for?
The kicker is that I have a lot of time until being a medical missionary will become a reality. I still have to finish my undergrad AND go through medical school AND complete my residency. So, in that period of time, I have a lot of opportunities to glorify myself.
Which, by the way, I love doing.
And, you know, my brain is the tool that gets me that glory.
I love when people talk about how smart they think I am. I love when I win a research competition or submit a research publication that gets accepted. I love when my boss at Caribou tells regulars that she has a smart volleyball girl who works for her and comes up with awesome trivia questions that people can’t answer (ok, I know, the fact that people can’t answer my trivia questions giving me pleasure is extremely nerdy…).
So I start to milk my brain’s abilities– and take the credit for the results, when credit is actually due to God.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I still have every intention of following God’s call to be a medical missionary in Morocco; however, I have run astray in the path towards that goal.
I have turned Morocco into something to brag about. When I am with Christians and get asked what I want to do with my life, I highlight the fact that Morocco is a restricted nation for Christianity because it gets me the “Wow, you are so strong in your faith to love God enough to spread the Gospel when you could go to jail for it” reaction. Then, when I’m around academics, I highlight that I desire to obtain an MD/PhD degree before I practice medicine in a third world country. I talk about how my research this year’s success has led me to this decision to try to get a PhD degree, too– a great way to throw my research success into a conversation.
See, God, I am still following Your call for my life. I’m just milking every moment of the journey until then for MY glory.
Remember when I mentioned the catabolic explosion of God telling me to go to Morocco and be a medical missionary and scratch all my life plans?
That’s what He is talking about when He says in Luke 18:22, “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor…and come, follow me.”
First, let me define catabolism (side note: my spell check is trying to tell me that “catabolic” is not a word, and it definitely is…it’s driving me nuts…). According to Bing dictionary, catabolism is “the breakdown of complex molecules in living organisms to form simpler ones, together with the release of energy” or “destructive metabolism.” In biology, an example of a catabolic reaction is when the enzyme lactase breaks down lactose into glucose, a simpler sugar that can be easily metabolized (which my body cannot do– hence, lactose intolerance).
I need another spiritual catabolic reaction. When God broke me down from the girl who believed she was all that and could do whatever huge thing she wanted with her life for her own glory, He made me into someone smaller– in a good way, in a way that made me put Him first. And, the thing about catabolic reactions is that they release energy. That energy that Him breaking me down from a self-absorbed dreamer to a God-obsessed strategic planner spread to others around me. It fueled my entire life.
Here I am now, lacking that very energy.
God needs to break me down again, to work the wonders of spiritual catabolism on my life again. I cannot keep wasting my life by using it to gain recognition for others until I have my MD/PhD and can finally go to Morocco.
God, I beg You, please do it. Help me to “sell all that I have” and view it as nothing and realize I am small and insignificant without You.
And make that energy that is released from this reaction so explosive that it not only fuels my life but shakes everyone else’s worlds.