Jesus and His Church,Life

Being Grateful for All Things

“Am I willing to receive whatever He offers me with gratitude?”

That was the question in my heart as I sat in our kitchen opening a huge box of food my parents had just sent us. We had followed the Lord out to California to be trained in church planting. We had sold or given away most of our belongings and bought a 200 sq. ft. travel trailer which all six of us were living in. I had quit the college degree I was working toward, and RC had quit his career, and we had decided to trust the Lord to provide for us.

However, it wasn’t long before He was putting that trust to the test. Not because He wasn’t providing for us, no, He was being perfectly faithful. It was tested because He wasn’t providing for us when we wanted Him to and how we wanted Him to. We wanted Him to bless our new business venture. We were working very hard, doing everything we possibly could, and trying to put ourselves in the best possible position for the Lord to bless. He obviously wanted to teach us something different.

Instead of throwing money at us through the success of our business, He turned people’s hearts to want to give to us. This humility is horribly uncomfortable for a first born who loves her self-sufficiency. Who prefers to be the one taking care of others rather than being taken care of. It was also hard because something had happened within me that I wasn’t even aware of.

You see, I had started to believe a lie. At it’s heart, it is a very common lie that we all believe at one point or another, about one thing or another. For me, this time, it was about food. I had started to believe that by eating certain foods, and denying myself other foods, I was “better”. Better than whom, exactly? Not sure. Whomever it pleased me to feel better than. And it wasn’t just entirely about feeling better than others, but about feeling better about myself. Surely, there was some sort of reward for eating a healthy diet. Surely, I was being the better version of myself by restricting my diet to what I deemed “healthy”.

Add to that the fear of getting sick, and the promise that “real” food makes in keeping me from it. It wasn’t until the Lord offered me food that I hadn’t eaten in a while that I even realized I had been harboring these thoughts and feelings. I thought I was better for eating this special way, and I thought I needed to eat this way to keep myself and my family from getting any major sicknesses.

Now, here’s where I must say something important. I am not saying that you shouldn’t eat a special diet. I have a couple of very dear friends who, for serious health reasons, must eat certain foods and must not eat others. It can literally be a matter of life and death for them. I’m sure the Lord is working more of Himself in their hearts through the very fact that they can’t eat whatever they want. I, however, don’t have any medical reason to refrain from certain foods, and the Lord wanted to free me from these ridiculous lies by asking me to receive whatever He provided with gratefulness. Even when, or especially when, it was something I had deemed as not good for us. Something I had deemed as below us.

What’s more is that I hadn’t even realized I was doing it. It wasn’t until I opened that box of food from my parents, and saw what was inside, that I realized the lies I was believing. Why? Because they had filled it with food that I had deemed below us. Food that we only ate at other people’s homes, but that I hadn’t brought into ours in a while. And this was the food the the Lord, Himself, was providing for us. Almost immediately I knew. I knew that I had two options. I could complain about this food that wasn’t good enough for us, or I could thank the Lord for providing.

So, why do I tell you all this? First, because if you happen to be where I was, the Lord is offering you the same freedom He has given me. The freedom to receive His provision with gratefulness. The freedom from lies of pride and fear. The freedom to see all things as from Him and worship. Secondly, because in sharing with you what we ate for four weeks, I realized that there was still a part of me that was concerned about what you would think of me. What you would think about what we ate, and even how much money we have to spend.

You see, being able to eat whatever we want, and also, being able to concern ourselves with making as much money as we can so we can buy/eat whatever we want are two things that have been laid on the alter before the Lord by our family. They are two of the many things that have been a part of our counting the cost of following Jesus Christ. They are things that we want, but have given up so that Christ can have what He wants.

“Couldn’t you have all that AND Christ have what He wants?”

I’m sure that’s what some of you are thinking, and I get it because I’ve wondered that too. However, the answer is no. No He couldn’t. Just as He told the rich young ruler to go and sell all that he had and to follow Him, this is what the Lord has asked of us. Just as he told the man to let the dead bury the dead (to not return to bury his father) and to follow Him, this is part of what Jesus has asked of us. And I’m grateful for it. I’m grateful for it because our Lord never asks something of us just for the heck of it. He only asks something of us when He has something better in return, and He has had something so much better in return for us as well. Freedom. True freedom. Freedom to receive whatever He offers us with a glad and grateful heart. Freedom from being concerned with what others think. Freedom from the cares and concerns and fears of the world. Freedom that only comes as Jesus Christ is becoming more and more to us. The freedom of a truly great Christ.

If you are truly serious about following Jesus Christ, you, too, will come up to certain things where the Lord is making you choose. Him or it. For you, it might not have anything to do with food. That’s because our Lord is so wise that He knows exactly what lies in each of our hearts. He knows exactly how to get at the truth deep within. The truth we cannot even see about ourselves. But when He does, it is always to offer us freedom in place of something lesser. I’m here to tell you:

It is always worth it to choose Christ.

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