And that means really stretching us. Stretching us until we feel we cannot bear it anymore.
And this is where I found myself this past week.
It was hard to learn...and I was slow. But I hit an "AHA!" moment, where I was like, "I've finally got this."
Note to self #4,907: We never 'got this'. Our faith is constantly being tested.
Through a series of events, Saturday(yesterday...how come it feels so far away?) afternoon God gave me the biggest test on submitting that I have ever had.
And let me tell you... I was upset. Hurt. Confused.
Tears streaming down my face, I got in my car and just drove. I didn't have a destination in mind, just needed to be alone to think. Cry. And pray.
The entire time I had one verse I couldn't shake from my mind, "*If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
77 miles of driving and praying later it became all too clear that taking up the cross of Christ meant laying down everything and everyone in my life in order to do so.
And to know that doing so might mean losing more than just my will and pride... but friends whom I hold dear.
To give literally everything and submit to His will for me.
Am I totally chill with the situation now and 'oh happy day my problems are solved because I've learned to submit'?
Far from it. I'm not afraid to admit that I'm struggling, a lot, with this.
Submitting to things I don't agree with... but know that right now God is calling me to submit to these things.
God is always teaching us. If we don't have trials in life, how else would we grow? He gives us trials to prove our faith as gold. To grow us in Him. To strip us of everything that consumes us in the world and show us that following Him...and Him alone...is what we, as believers, are called to do.
And that training, learning; it hurts. So much.
But if we press on. Eyes on Christ. Joy in Him.
It'll be so SO worth it in the end.
In order to take up our cross and follow Christ, we must leave behind all that we think we need.
We must deny ourselves. Our desires. Our wants.
To do anything less is to disobey the God of yesterday, today, and forever.
*Matthew 16:24-26, "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forgets his soul?'"