"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
Following Jesus requires self-denial, complete dedication, and willing obedience. Following Jesus requires surrendering ALL to Him. It is a big commitment.
It took Keith and I over a year and a half to get pregnant with our oldest son, Grayden. Looking back that does not seem like a long time to wait, but in the moment it felt like an eternity. It was an emotional roller coaster for me. I had a million questions for God. I cried out to Him often to grant me the desire of my heart...a child. I wrestled with doubt.
I can vividly remember the moment where I knew what God was asking of me. He wanted me to deny myself: my plans, my timeline, my heart's desire. He wanted complete dedication and willing obedience regardless of whether I ever got pregnant. He wanted me to surrender having a family to Him.
Friends, in that moment I could not do it. I could not pray the words of self-denial. I did not trust that God's plan and will for my life were better than my own.
I continued to wrestle with God and to fight for my right to have a family.
UNTIL...I could not fight any longer. I came to a crossroads: Either I deny myself and follow Jesus OR I cling to self and follow my own desires. I can remember laying on my family room floor sobbing as I prayed the words,
"God I love you more than my desire for children.
I surrender having a family to you.
If I never have children,
I'll trust that Your alternative plan is good...better."
In that moment, it was a choice. There was no sign from Heaven. There was no great Holy Spirit moment. I was still scared. And I was so very sad. But, I clung to the words of Jesus in Luke 9 and decided I would follow Him regardless.
The words of the following song became my heart's cry:
Unlike so many people I know who want children, mine was a happy ending in which God DID fulfill my lifelong dream of having children. I understand that I only had to deny my heart's desire for a short season in my life and there are some still denying.
But I DID learn a great lesson. We cannot follow Jesus and deny a few aspects of ourselves...He wants us to choose to surrender it ALL to Him every day for the rest of our lives. Regardless.
And Jesus says that whoever "loses his life for me will save it!" We cannot fully understand what this promise means for us, but I believe we can trust that it is a promise FULL of good things; better things than what we could conjure up ourselves.
As our children seek Jesus they will have to decide for themselves whether or not they are willing to surrender ALL to Him. Following Jesus is no joke. They will have to deny themselves over and over again. But the peace and joy they will receive far exceeds any pleasure they would receive from their own plans.
So join me in prayer today over our children,
Jesus, As I grow in relationship with You I become more and more amazed at Your goodness and Your love for me. There is no greater joy in my life than knowing You. I still have trouble and I still have pain, but my trust & hope in You gives me a peace that passess all understanding. So...I am even more convinced that following You and denying myself is THE BEST choice for my life. If I'm being honest with You, it is still hard. I definitely still want to satsify my flesh, but I cling to the promise that losing my life for You is great gain.
Today I pray for my children. Of course, my heart's desire is that they would follow after You. So I ask that You would draw them to Yourself in all things. I pray You would grant them the gift of faith to trust You and lay themselves completely at Your feet. And when they are at a crossroads, may they choose to deny themselves and follow You.