I heard these words ever so softly one evening while reading my Bible, "Are you willing to lay it all down?" The sweet, gentle voice was one I recognized instantly. It was the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking directly to my heart - and my heart felt every word as if it went through my very soul.
It happened when I was reading these scriptures in Matthew 9:
57 As they were going on their way, a man said to Jesus, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes. Birds of the sky have nests. The Son of Man has no place to put His head.” 59 He said to another, “Follow Me.” But the man said, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the people who are dead bury their own dead. You go and preach about the holy nation of God.” 61 And another one said, “Lord, I will follow You, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “Anyone who puts his hand on a plow and looks back at the things behind is of no use in the holy nation of God.”
Wow. Leaving everything behind to follow Jesus? This is not something that comes easily to our feeble human minds. Nor is it something that comes easily to our flesh. But the reality? It can be done.
I remember when I first read those words back in the brisk cool fall of 1998, my junior year at Washington State University. I was mortified. Why? Because I didn't find it humanly possible to put God in front of my family. How could I? I was raised to put family first and to be loyal to them only. However, I knew in my heart, as a young Christian woman that God was calling me into deeper fellowship with Him.
It happened very quickly once I submitted my inability to lay everything down (in my case, putting God before my family) to God. It seemed like almost instantly that I was able to comprehend and live out my new mindset. However, in subsequent years, this was a bit more challenging for me. Marriage, children, and ministry have been a difficult thing at times to consciously not put in front of my Jesus.
Here are a few simple ways that have helped me keep true to my convictions of laying it all down:
- Submitting every mindset that is not in line with God's Word to Him immediately in prayer. No wiggle room here. It has to be an immediate response. And it works.
- Choosing scriptures to meditate on that are related to the area you are having trouble putting God first in. These will change during your walk with God and they will always be a necessary part of your relationship to keep God first.
- Having an accountability partner (or two). This is a great help in the process as they can help keep you encouraged as well as accountable in the areas you are striving to improve in.
I pray that this article can be an encouragement to someone out there who might be dealing with this very issue right now. Be encouraged as it can be done! Laying it all down is a life-long challenge and we all need help to get there. I am praying for each one of you as you continue to strive to give God your very best in every area of your life!