I’m just going to throw this out there, even though you will probably think I am crazy. Actually, if you read my blogs often enough, chances are good you already think I am nuts…so what do I have to lose?
Here it is: when I go for jogs, I hear God speak to me. Sometimes, the words are so clear that they seems audible. Which is why, if you drive past me, it looks like I am talking to myself as I huff and puff along. But I’m not.
I’m talking to God.
I’m not sure what it is about the jogging that brings out his voice, but I have received so many revelations and nuggets of wisdom as I slowly trot down the sidewalk. Maybe it’s because I am alone, without distraction or noise, and I can finally focus on and listen to hear his gentle whisper. Who knows? I’m honestly just grateful to hear it at all.
When it started, I had just come back to my faith and I was in the middle of a 40 day Daniel fast. I was attempting to run without carbs in my body (thank you, Daniel fast) and it wasn’t pretty. Carbs = energy. No carbs = no energy. Every step felt like a special kind of torture.
But it was amazing how God used those challenging runs during the fast to speak to me and change my heart. One conversation in particular still stands out to me; it has stayed in the front of mind for the last 7 years:
Minta, how much do you love me? The question took me by surprise.
“More than anything, God,” was my obedient reply. Is there really any other way to answer that question when talking to the Sovereign Lord of the Universe?
What are you willing to give up to follow me? Came the next question.
“Everything.” was my immediate response.
He proceeded to ask me about giving up everything I owned, every single comfort I had, one item at a time. I didn’t understand it.
Each time he asked, I answered the same: “Yes, Lord. Of course.” And I meant it. I felt like I would give up everything for him out of gratitude for how he loved me.
Finally, he ended with, then follow me.
It was the most unique conversation I’d ever had with him. I didn’t fully understand where he was going with that line of questioning. I thought maybe he was preparing me to be a missionary because why else would he ask me if I was willing to give up everything to follow him?
Fast forward 7 years and I am no missionary.
I’m a slightly crazy, usually unshowered, sweat-pants wearing, stay-at-home mom of four.
I think that I am starting to have clarity about that conversation, however, after reading a story in Matthew 19. A rich young man approached Jesus and asked what good deed he must do to receive eternal life. Jesus talked to him about keeping the commandments and the rich young (arrogant) man claimed to already have done all of those things. In other words, he claimed to be perfect. In response, Jesus informed him that if he really wanted to be perfect, he must sell all his possessions, give his money to the poor, and follow him.
The rich young man walked away from Jesus, sad, because he had a lot of money and didn’t want to give it up.
It was a test and the rich young man failed it.
He walked away from the wrong thing.
He said that he wanted eternal life, but when forced to choose, he walked away from Jesus and he held onto all of his worldly possessions.
If he really wanted eternity with God, he would have walked away from his money.
But he didn’t.
He showed his true colors: the deepest desire of his heart was money.
Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
He walked away from Jesus because greed held the #1 spot in his heart.
What you hold onto is what you really value.
And that’s the truth that helped me understand my conversation with God. When he asked me those questions about what I would be willing to give up for him, he was asking me to examine my heart and see what was really my deepest desire.
Was following God what I really and truly wanted most?
No matter the cost? No matter what I had to give up?
He had good reason to question me.
I failed that test before. Big time. I walked away from my faith about 10 years ago when life got hard and I chased everything the world said would fix it. I shopped, I partied, I bought expensive clothes, my nails were manicured, my hair was salon fresh, I even drove a new car. I thought that if I had everything I ever wanted, I would be happy. I ran as fast as I could after material possessions and denied myself nothing. I didn’t go to church, read my bible, pray, or even spend time with my faith-filled friends.
I walked away from the wrong thing, just like the rich young man.
I bought into the worldly lie that wealth is the ultimate prize. That more is better. That stuff will make you happy. That self-indulgence leads to satisfaction. That life is the pursuit of happiness.
And that’s all it was: all one big, fat, lie.
Believing that lie corrupted my heart and almost cost me my life. Lucky for me, I fell flat on my face while I was running away. When I did, God picked me up and extended grace and unconditional love. My eyes were opened and I could finally see what I needed to hold onto and what I needed to walk away from.
When God asked me those questions 7 years ago, I thought he was preparing me to be a missionary. Instead, he was getting me ready to live in reckless abandon as a stay-at-home mom. I have walked a hard road since then; losing babies, losing my health (at times), losing jobs, losing community and more. But through it all I have held onto the one thing that I desire most: my savior.
I’m learning that is what following him is all about: treasuring him and holding onto him, no matter what I have to give up or lose.
The world still sells the same big lie and it’s everywhere. I try every day to make the decision to ignore it, walk away, and to pursue holiness instead. I’m so thankful for that conversation 7 years ago because it reminds me that I said yes to giving up everything to follow Christ.
It’s not easy to share my story. It’s embarrassing how many times I have fallen short. But my life is an example of the incredible love and grace that God demonstrates to those who continue to seek him, so I share it humbly. No matter where you are at on the journey, it’s not too late to walk away from the world and hold onto Jesus.
Friends, what are you walking away from? Even more important: what are you holding onto?
Thanks for being on the faith journey with me. As always, I love hearing from you. Email me or comment on the blog and I will get on my knees for you. Blessings!
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