It only took a split second for me to regress 40 years. Poor Dominique in Customer Service had no idea what was coming when she answered my call! She was just following the rules, doing her job, and couldn’t give me the information I wanted. And what did I do? I had a temper tantrum. Once I cooled down later, I felt awful. What got into me??
A few days later, I was reading Mark 8, and came across this verse.
“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34 NLT).
As a child I learned it in the NIV, which states that a follower must “deny himself.” Somehow I always thought about that as giving up creature comforts, or even social comforts, for the sake of the cross. In my mind’s eye, I saw myself making career sacrifices and losing friendships because of my choices to follow Jesus, and this was perfectly acceptable to me. That would be denying myself and what I personally wanted, but I never even realized that I had confined that denial to certain realms of my life.
I was raised to be strong and independent. Add to that my view of denying myself and taking up my cross, and I saw myself doing it all! I could carry the cross and fight for my own rights while taking care of myself just fine (with God’s help, of course)! I was seriously missing something, though…turning from my selfish ways. And oh, how often that struggle arises. I want what I want, and if I don’t get it, I just might act like a spoiled five-year-old having a tantrum. Sometimes that tantrum may just stay in my head, but not always! This drive to fight for myself is strong, and one that I can’t overcome on my own. Maybe that’s why…it helps me see that I do need help. I do need a Savior, even after all these years! I haven’t “made it,” and I never will reach perfection this side of heaven. I pray that God continues to form His truths in my life and my heart. Truths like this:
You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
And the Lord-who is the Spirit-makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18).
God is working on me day by day. I am not what I will be, but neither am I what I’ve been.
Now why on earth would I share this mess with you? Because I know that just like me, you have your own messes to reconcile. Don’t despair! We are on a journey of growth. Press onward and upward!
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us (Philippians 3:12-14).
I know that due to the high number of customer service reps working for this particular organization, the probability of Dominique ever answering my call again is slim-to-none, but I still pray that someday when I do call again (which happens every couple of months) I can apologize for my immaturity. In the meantime, I can join God in His work on my heart by exercising and applying these verses:
Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires (James 1:20).
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ Jesus has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:31-32).
Press on, dear reader…