The following post is written as a contribution to a monthly synchroblog. This month it is hosted by Kathy Escobar. The topic is Have you found more life by letting go of something? Tomorrow I will post a list of all the contributions for reflection.
When I first heard the topic my mind went into high gear remembering all that I have given up – a home in New Zealand that I wept over before leaving to join the mercy ship Anastasis; the secure and comfortable life of a general practitioner with all the accompanying advantages of a good salary; dear friends I will never see again who live scattered around the world; the opportunity to to live close to my brothers and watch my niece and nephew grow up; even the possibility of having children myself. All of these I have given up at some point in my life .
But then I stopped to think – have I really given up anything that has not been replaced tenfold with something deeper and more fulfilling? My momentary regrets gave way to amazingly fulfilling images: cleft lips and palates healed, eyes opened, starving children nourished, the opportunity to provide medical care for thousands in Africa, Asia and Central America; a worldwide network of friends and colleagues who offer hospitality to Tom and I wherever and whenever we travel; involvement in a very special and fulfilling ministry and life in Seattle; and stretching far beyond anything else an incredible opportunity to grow in my faith and constantly be surprised by the wonder of a God whose love and care I experience every day.
The giving up has always resulted in a more intimate and richer relationship to God. When I look back over the years I cannot think of one thing I really regret giving up. This does not mean that the giving up was easy. It was often done with much struggle and tears, sometimes with heartache that seemed to leave a wrenching void in my soul, at least for a season, until I started to catch glimpses of the new seeds that God had planted in the darkened recesses of my being.
Giving up for God costs us everything, at least it costs us everything that seems familiar and secure but it also burst the realms of our imagination with new possibilities for life and faith that we have never thought possible before. I am constantly humbled by the the paradoxical ways in which God works. I have often thought that I was giving up life but in actual fact I was finding life – God’s life.
I cannot imagine a life that is more fulfilling than the one I live now. In my wildest dreams as a young adult I never imagined God could use my life to impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Sometimes I have felt that I was giving up faith too but I realize now that what I was giving up was my narrow culture bound vision of God to plunge into an ever expanding understanding of the love of God. And yet I know that no matter how much I learn I will always only scratch the surface of what there is to know about God.
In the future I suspect there will be many more times that God will ask me to give up something I am hold onto tightly and I know that the giving up will never be easy. My prayer is that I will always be able to trust that in the giving up I will learn more about God and become more of the person God intends me to be.