Taking Up Your Cross
D. Taking Up Your Cross (The Choice)
God’s will will be done, but will it be done by you? Here again, I think we should distinguish between God’s sovereign will (His plan of salvation and how He acts in human history in the “big picture” sense) and God’s will to have a relationship with each person He made and loves. I suppose the link comes when, because of a person’s relationship with God, that person chooses to participate in the “big picture” plan by acting as God’s instrument.
I can imagine that God weeps when someone fails to respond to His call to have an intimate relationship with Him. If you fail to respond to that call to walk with Him, that call to let Him into your heart, then you are stuck with your own selfishness. Thus handicapped by your personal limitations, you miss the opportunity to fully be who God intended for you to be as His child (in the relationship sense).
When you are not available because you are not seeking that intended relationship, I believe God simply uses someone else to fill assignments necessary to accomplish His sovereign will in the “big picture” sense. In a later section about developing your unique mission, I will ask you to identify your talents and opportunities. It is God’s will to use us as His servants in accomplishing His work on earth so He gives us talents and opportunities to equip us for His assignments.
There are tasks which are part of that big picture plan of salvation that God has equipped you to do but which He does not need you to do.
An earthly analogy might be that you would be perfect for a certain role in a school play, but if you don’t try out for the play, the school will perform the play anyway. No one will ever know that you could have played the role very well because someone else did it. Likewise, God’s assignments will be completed regardless, but we have the opportunity to join in and the Lord wants us to say “yes” to those opportunities. God’s will will be done, so “go with the flow,” His flow.
According to Dr. Blackaby, it is your character which determines what God will place you to do. It is your relationship to God which molds your character.
Dr. Blackaby warned that “God does not show you His will so that you will discuss and debate it. The window of opportunity is small because God’s timing is right. God says, ‘You belong to me, let me show you what to do!'”
When Jesus called his disciples, He did not give them much time to decide. Jesus did not wait for those who made excuses. He said they were not fit. Those who did not come when Jesus asked them to follow Him just plain missed out. Compare Peter and Andrew, who responded to the call of Jesus to follow him by leaving their nets “at once” (Matthew 4: 20) and James and John, who also “immediately left the boat and their father and followed him,” (Matthew 4: 22), with the man who said he had to first bury his father (Matthew 8: 21). That guy just missed out. The request to first bury his father sounds reasonable to me. However, the Lord wanted him to follow immediately and he did not respond to the call when it came. He probably did not recognize the call for what it was. He might have spent the rest of his life waiting for another call. Jesus wanted Him for a particular task at a particular time. He missed his calling, at least that one calling. He missed being a disciple while Jesus walked the earth. Perhaps he became a believer later, but he missed a special opportunity.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was a Lutheran pastor in Germany, imprisoned and eventually executed by Hitler, wrote a book called The Cost of Discipleship. I recommend it to you to read.
Jesus was very clear that there is a cost of discipleship. He said, “Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10: 38 & 39.
Again, in Luke 9:23 & 24, we read: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”
God gives us a choice. He calls us and we get to choose how to respond. He called you to have a relationship with Him. He promises that the reward is even greater than the cost of discipleship.
Follow the example of Joshua, who said: “…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24: 15