I don’t know about you, but I’m amazed how quickly my calendar fills up. As I look at the days and weeks ahead of me, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, to wish for some extra free time and to want what isn’t. Discontentment can creep in so quickly and frustration can build. In times like these, I know that my thinking needs to change if my attitude is going to change, and Paul’s words in Acts 20:24 are a great place to begin to renew my mind:
“But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”
The only way to live in contentment, with an attitude of steadfast joy that sees all that God has called me to do each day as delight and not duty, is to get myself out of the way! The world tells me I need “me time”, I should feel appreciated and I deserve to have whatever my heart desires. It sounds so good and it’s easy to buy into…but it is contrary to the Word of God. God says I am to consider others more important than myself (Phil. 2:3), that my life is not my own (I Cor. 6:19) and that it is more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35). Jesus put flesh and bones on these truths by walking among us as the Servant of all and I can’t help but wonder if Paul’s words in Acts 20:24 came from his reflection on the Lord Jesus Christ from passages like the following.
In Matthew 14 Jesus finds out that John the Baptist had been beheaded and He sought to get away, to be alone. I can’t help but wonder if Jesus, as fully man, was feeling a level of both physical and emotional exhaustion as he processed not only the heartbreaking news of John’s death, but the physical toll of serving and ministering tirelessly to so many people. It’s easy for me to understand His need to be alone, but it’s what He does next that stops me in my tracks. Verses 13 and 14 say that when the crowds heard that Jesus went to a remote place (by boat), they followed Him on foot from the surrounding towns and were actually waiting for Him when he came ashore. This isn’t just a few people. Scholars estimate that the crowd may have been as large as 20,000 people! If that had been me, I would have asked the disciples to turn the boat right back around and head out to sea. I would have been prone to immediate frustration and irritation. This was supposed to be “me time”, didn’t they know???!!!!
But that is not our Jesus. The Bible said He felt compassion for them, healed their sick till evening and then fed them all!! I am so thankful for His incredible example of not counting His life as dear to Himself, of serving…not seeking to be served, and of laying down His life over and over again till it culminated in dying for us and rising again so that we might walk in His resurrection power and follow in His footsteps!
“I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20
My hours, days and weeks may be full but they do not need to overwhelm me. His divine power has given me everything I need to meet the needs of those around me (2 Peter 1:3) and His sustaining grace enables me to do so with delight in the One who “loved me and gave Himself up for me”. And as I continue to ask God to mold my ever selfish heart into the heart of Christ, my prayer echoes the words of Betty Stam ( a missionary to the people of China who, along with her husband, was murdered in the 1930’s by communists):
“Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my time, my all, utterly to Thee to be Thine forever. Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit. Use me as Thou wilt, send me where Thou wilt, work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever.”
Kristin Pichura has been married to her husband for twenty-two years and has been a pastor’s wife for almost just as long. The Lord has blessed Bryan and Kristin with 7 children: one whose home is in Heaven, two whose beginnings were in Ethiopia and all claim the title “teenager” right now. She has a heart for discipleship and encouraging women to pursue Christ through being women of the Word. You can find more of her writing at www.justtheclay.com.