I don’t know about you, but my calendar is quickly filling up. As I look at the days and weeks ahead of me, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, to wish for some extra free time, and to want what isn’t. Discontentment can creep in so quickly and frustration can build. In times like these, I know that my thinking needs to change if my attitude is going to change…and Paul’s words in Acts 20:24 are a great place to begin to renew my mind:
“But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”
The only way to live in contentment, with an attitude of steadfast joy that sees all that God has called me to do each day as delight and not duty, is to get myself out of the way! The world tells me I need “me time”, I should feel appreciated, and I deserve to have whatever my heart desires. It sounds so good and it’s easy to “buy into”…but it is contrary to the Word of God. God says I am to consider others more important than myself (Phil. 2:3), that my life is not my own (I Cor. 6:19) and that it is more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35). Jesus put flesh and bones on these truths by walking among us as the Servant of all. I have to wonder if Paul’s words in Acts came from reflecting on the Lord Jesus Christ…in passages like Matthew.
In Matthew 14, Jesus found out that John the Baptist had been beheaded and He sought to get away to be alone. When I combine this heartbreaking news with the ministering and serving that Jesus had been doing, I think it can be assumed that He was feeling a level of both physical and emotional exhaustion. It’s easy for me to understand His need to be alone…it’s what happened after that verse that stops me in my tracks. Verses 13 and 14 say that when the crowds heard that Jesus went to a remote place (by boat), they followed Him on foot from the towns and were actually WAITING for Him when he came ashore. This isn’t just a few people. Scholars estimate that the crowd may have been as large as 20,000 people! If that was me, I would have asked the disciples to turn the boat right back around and head back out to sea. I would have been prone to immediate frustration and irritation. This was supposed to be “me time”…didn’t they know???!!!!
But that is not our Jesus. The Bible said He felt compassion for them and healed their sick till evening….and then fed them all!! I am so thankful for His incredible example of not counting His life as dear to Himself, of serving…not seeking to be served, and of laying down His life over and over again till it culminated in dying for us and rising again so that we might walk in His resurrection power and follow in His footsteps!
“I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
My hours, my days and my weeks may be full but they do not need to overwhelm me. His divine power has given me everything I need to meet the needs of those around me (2 Peter 1:3) and His sustaining grace (2 Cor. 9:8) enables me to do so with delight in the One who “loved me and gave Himself up for me”. And as I continue to ask God to mold my ever selfish heart into the heart of Christ, my prayer echoes the words of Betty Stam ( a missionary to the people of China who, along with her husband, was murdered in the 1930’s by communists):
“Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my time, my all, utterly to Thee to be Thine forever. Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit. Use me as Thou wilt, send me where Thou wilt, work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever.”