This latest one, my speaking ministry, is one that God is asking me to remove myself. I could keep it. I could keep going as I am. However, He has shown me that, right now, this needs to go because my health is suffering because of it.
Then He opened my eyes and showed me it was also about much more than my health.
There is a verse in Scripture where Jesus talks about actually removing parts of ourselves. If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away (Matthew 5:29, 18:9, Mark 9:47). If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you (Matthew 5:30, 18:8, Mark 9:43-45). Sounds horrible, doesn't it? Who would do that to themselves? Why put yourself through pain and anguish, give yourself a lifelong limitation, remove something that is good and helpful and useful on purpose?
Jesus said we should because it is better to enter eternal life maimed than to have everything in this life and be lost.
That specifically applies to non-believers but there is a truth for me as well.
If something is causing me to walk at a distance from my Savior, no matter how good it is or how much good it does, it is not right. To remove it is painful, limiting and makes me less whole. To not remove it, however, is worse.
To keep speaking at this season when I am not stable with my health condition (Addison's disease, hypoglycemia, asthma, scoliosis and a cyst on my brain in case you were wondering) means staying up on higher dose of my daily steroid meds (oral hydrocortisone) so I can continue to function. One of the symptoms of being on the higher medication is a low-grade anger that makes me easily irritated and more stressed. If having a ministry means I cannot be as loving with my husband and children as God wants, that cannot be right.
Ironically, I've been working on this very principle with my young son. I've been teaching him the concept of these exact verses and sharing with him that something good (say playing Lego Star Wars on the Wii) becomes something bad if it makes us do or think wrong (pouting when he is asked to help instead of playing, having a bad attitude when it is time to stop). So if the Wii causes you to sin, it is better to throw it in the trash. You should see his eyes when I say that!
So I must cut off this hand, this useful, good thing, because during this season in my life it has become something not right. The cutting will be hard. I love speaking. I thrive on the meeting new people and the travel and having something to look forward to.
However, cutting it off is not just that moment of pain. It is also learning to live with one less hand, the adjustments that must be made to function with less of yourself, the daily reminder that you had to limit yourself to live right.
I'm not excited about this. Actually I'm crying if you really want to know. But I've stopped wanting to stomp my foot like a child and say it's not fair. I recognize with brokenness that this is not about a health problem. This is about me and Jesus Christ and how much I am willing to sacrifice to be more like Him than myself.
I'm sharing this with you for two reasons. For one, to make myself accountable. I know as soon as I stop feeling so sick, I will want to jump right back in my old habits and fill my schedule again. For another, I suppose I'm sharing it in case you are living something good that is not right. I thought that, because it was ministry and because there were so many good things about it, God would "protect" it in the sense that He would make it happen and make me healthy enough to continue doing it (which He would if that were His will and this was something He asked me to do for Him rather than me just doing it).
However, the other day I was reading about Eve and that forbidden fruit. God told her not to eat it. The fruit itself was not bad. In fact, when she considered it, she thought of all the good things about it (Genesis 3:6 It looked good, it was good for food, it would make her wise). She lost the battle between sin and obedience thinking about how good it was rather than asking if it was right.
I don't want to live my life choosing things that are good but not right. However much this will hurt, I must stop making choices based on me--what I want, what I feel I need, what feels good and even fulfilling--and start asking God what is right and best. I know there is blessing in this choice, and move toward it despite my feelings. And I humbly ask that you pray for me, that I will not just purpose this right now, but actually do it.
Thank you. May the Lord give us sight to see beyond just the good to what is right. And may all of us have the courage to make the harder, better choice.
Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me,
let him deny himself,
and take up his cross daily
and follow Me.
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.