Giving your life to Jesus also means just how it sounds. The Word of God is clear in stating that in order to gain the life that Jesus has in mind for you - you must first willingly give up that life that YOU have planned for YOU. Not many folks, including pastor folks, get past this very real requirement. (My mind wanders to the rich young ruler of Luke 18 - I have often wondered whatever happened to that guy... Did he just walk off and go back to whatever it was he was doing before he decided to try and impress Jesus? Did he go on believing that he was saved anyway and live life in the foundational lie of so many believers?)
My mind also go back to a meeting of pastors to which I was invited at one time - a support group of sorts - which turned out to be a very typical "complaint session," shall we say, about the pitfalls of being a pastor. One of the participants was complaining about his compensation package ending with the statement, "One thing I am sure of - I do not want to die there." There is a great deal wrong with that sentiment, to be sure, but what I remember most is an overwhelming feeling of joy and worship as I thanked the Holy Spirit. Why? Because for all intents and purposes, I am already dead.
I guess I just was naive in believing that most others were also.
You see, from that moment of which I spoke in the opening paragraph - the moment that Jesus offered Himself to me in return for my life... well... I gave Him my life; and He took it. I could fill paragraphs here listing or discussing all of the things that have transpired - literally pages - and slowly but surely I will offer all of that; But as I told the congregation just last Sunday, "This was NOT the plan for my life."
Career - gone; most old friends and colleagues - gone; money - gone; benefits - gone; house - gone: titles - gone; retirement account - GONE! Oh yea, let's not forget these... shell of a marriage - gone; callousness and prideful arrogance - gone; heart of stone - gone. The old man died - the new man was born - and he has been doing what Jesus has been asking him to do since then. (perfectly??? Not even close; but willingly and with complete trust)
Here's the point - Jesus could do it again tomorrow and I would have the same response. I have decided to follow Him - period. I do not care what my pay and benefits are nor if I even have any. We traded in everything - all of the trappings of success and security - for nothing certain and we have never been happier or more secure in our lives. If it all fell to pieces tomorrow, I would have complete faith in God that what was happening is exactly what He wants to happen and I would Seek only is will.
I am glad that I died that day with Jesus.
I am glad that I live every day with Jesus.
I want to know the Brian that Jesus knows.
I want to know the Jesus. I want to follow Jesus.