Why can’t you let it go, even with the price I have paid for it. See, the thing is, I’m asking you to give it up because I have something better for you. And you cannot hold the two together in one body. They are, in fact, mutually exclusive. What do you have in your hand? Yes, that. The one thing you still cling to because it’s the only thing you’re not willing to part with.
Your life. Your identity. Your self-made self. That one thing you love so much you think I would never ask you to give it up. But sanctification is a costly thing. It is a complete setting apart of all of you for Me and My purposes. And I invite you to take off all your layers of identity until only one remains. That you are my child. In other words, anything you find your home in other than me, will need to be laid down, including your nationality, your citizenship, your ethnicity, your artistry, your abilities, your career, your position, your land, your house, your reputation, your legacy. Your allegiance is not to a flag, but to a Kingdom. Your belonging is not to a denomination but to my body. Your identity is not what you do for a living, but you only really identify as my child and my servant who knows me. You become content and eager to work on only my projects, and do what I am doing. Everything else become rubbish, tarnished, waste compared to knowing me.
I am pleased with your offerings that you bring with a pure intent of heart. But does your heart deceive you? Make sure to check. All other things you lay at my feet–your time, your service, and your gifts to the poor, so why withhold this last bit? You are afraid I will take it and not give it back. What if I do? Would you still trust me even then?
What would you not give to know me? Haven’t you told me you want to know me? That you would give anything to me, even your very life if I asked it? Well I am asking for it. All of it. It is what I require of you if you want to be my disciple…I mean, if you want to really know me.
Do you know me? The thing is, I am only truly known by experiencing me. I am only truly experienced when you repent from the self-life and start living a God-centric life, by the power of the Holy Spirit. I am only going to come fill you when you actually repent so you can start obeying me out of love-driven passion. That’s how I know you love me. That’s when my Father and I make our home in your heart.
Didn’t I already say, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. (John 14:23-24)
So yes, forgiveness is free to you because of my cross, but this life WITH ME comes at a cost to you. What I have to give in exchange for your self-life is actually better. I am offering my life for your life. But you have to surrender it to me. I am your King. You cannot be both independent from me and dependent on me, can you? You cannot be thrivng in my Kingdom and thriving in the Kingdom of the world? They are mutually exclusive until I come again and rule and reign as King. Only My reign will make peace. And you cannot demand that I allow part of your self to remain just because it’s the part you really liked about yourself. Or the part you were good at. I require it all.
Ask a husband if they would accept the offer of a part of a woman to marry. Ask a wife if she would be content with a partial partner? So, intimacy requires that all of us belongs to the one we love. All of us becomes theirs and all of them belongs to us. They become one flesh. The proposal is on the table. The question is, do you want that kind of life with me? Do you really want it?
See, I want to get you to understand the way I love you. It’s the way a father loves a baby, with no abilities or skills to bring to the table. It’s just you. Raw and unfiltered. It’s the “you” before this world broke you with coldness and distrust. It’s the part of you that has nothing to bring to make yourself valuable. That’s who I want to see, because only when you come before me in full view of your own real value can you perceive the emptiness, lack, and sinfulness that has crept in. I can I fill you with everything I have to give you. Resist the urge to hold onto your “benefits.” The only benefit you need is me. I give it to you. I will pour out my Spirit and bring to life all the parts of you that I made to operate. You will shine with my glory in ways you never could have comprehended. But if you hold onto even one shred of who you are without me–call it personality, call it a gift, call it a dream. Then all I have for you is suddenly in jeopardy. You can choose for yourself what you will be based on your own assessment of your value, or you can let me do it, which is better, because I perceive you as infinitely valuable. But you cannot do both. Either I decide what your life will be or you do.
And here’s another thing. The rejection, poor self-esteem, and hurt from the past is no excuse to retain your right to demand your self-respect. I always give you the right to autonomy, but you should trade it in for submission and reliance on me. I never promised you that you could expect to be respected by people. You say you need validation from them, that you get to set boundaries. No you don’t. If you search for validation, you will find it in the flatterer’s tongue and the false teacher and prophet. If you look to self-protect, you will end up completely stressed out and fearful. But what you really need is true love and true teaching that will tear down your walls and actually heal the trauma of your past. If you live with any part of you blocked off or kept private, in reservation from me, you risk everything.
And I do not like to hide this from you. I have in mind a certain personality for you: loving, righteous, holy, full of peace and rest, powerful, joyful, faithful, gentle, patient, kind, full of good fruit of my life in you. It is my life in you that brings out all you were originally intended to be. No, you were not made as sparks of the divine or cosmically assigned a personality. You are unique. You are fully known and loved because you are handmade and designed by a creator. And I make you with such care. Do you think part of yourself that is truly good is unsafe when surrendered to me? Do I delight in crushing hearts and dreams? Am I heartless and selfish? No. But I will take every dream that is self-made as an pleasing offering from you, because the dreams that you dream for your life are absolutely no match for the dreams I DREAM FOR YOU.
But first things first…you do know, there is a cross for you to carry, right?
“If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. 28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? 29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. 30 They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ 31 “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? 32 And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. 33 So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.” Luke 14:28-33
To understand the point of this, you must get your eyes of yourself and put them on me. I am doing things in the world that I want you to be a part of but you will only be entrusted with them if you come in through the narrow gate! I do require things of you like any Rabbi. Only, I am requiring them for your benefit! What do you really want? To know me? Then there is only way…by the way of the cross. I have atoned for your sins. You do not carry that cross. But you must carry your own cross of of suffering as you go and obey me, making my name known among the nations, teaching them to obey my commands, baptizing them, giving up your dreams, riches, renown, and reputation, and endure great persecution, discomfort, and martyrdom for my name’s sake. But I tell you this. You will know my fellowship. I will never leave you. I will not give up on you.
I am the evening and morning star. I am the root of Jesse and David’s branch. I am the Truth. The Way. I am the only way to the Father. And I am able to keep you from falling. If you want to know me, the only way is through experiencing my sufferings. You will have to carry a cross of your own. Then you can keep watch with me. You can hear my teachings with clarity and ease. I will tell you how to pray in accordance with me will. You can follow my commands without compartmentalizing or shame. You can pray with me for the things I care about and minister to my heart as a priest to the Lord. You will be counted as those who know me.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:15-23
Oh, my love, there will be many who deceive, and also many who believe in me and receive salvation like the thief on the cross, as those snatched from the fire. But there will not many who will take the road of discipleship, because discipleship means you are giving up everything to follow me.
Everything. Not just willing to give it up. Actually giving it up. For those who choose to walk THAT road, nothing is off limits for me to use in my sovereignty. Nothing held back, nothing witheld, no prenups, no exceptions or allowances, no back-up plans. Faith means you’re all in. For better or for worse.
But I will tell you this. You can expect to be brought all the way through this season of surrender and pain into glory. No gift given to me is misspent. No pain is wasted. No persecution goes unvindicated. And no loss goes unrewarded. I am the King of the Universe. I am the one through whom all blessings flow, from rain to sun, from field, to tree, from animal to human. I am the source of ALL life. And I am making a new heaven and earth, preparing them now, And I am preparing a Kingdom which you will not build, but inherit.
This is the gospel, the good news, that I have paid the right price for all of you. I get it all. I am worth it. And you cannot be forced to give yourself to me. You can only go as far as you want. I do not force people. But you can and may go as deep as you like. How much do you want to give? That is the depth at which you will know me, because that is the level at which you have chosen to experience me. I will fill and inhabit every space that is made for me. I will meet you wherever you make room for me.
What does it mean for you to give that last piece of yourself to Jesus?
Rhinehard Bonke says it this way,
John had a double story house, five plus five rooms. One day there was a gentle knock on the front door. When John opened it was the Lord Jesus. “Please come in”, John pleaded, “I will give you the best room in my house – it is upstairs. Well, Jesus is a gentleman and said “thank you”.
The next morning someone hammered against the front door. When John opened it who was there? The devil. “No” shouted John, “I don’t want you here” But the devil said “I’m already in” – and a big fight started. Satan poured filthy temptation on him, it was horrible. By the evening John somehow got the victory and threw the devil out. Then he said “wait a minute”. I gave Jesus the best room in the house, why didn’t he come to my rescue?” Jesus said to John “Look, you gave me one of the ten rooms…” John was on his knees and said “I can see my mistake. Sorry, Lord. Let’s make 50/50.” Jesus is a gentleman and accepted. The next day was a repeat of the day before. Somehow the devil got in and out and John was totally exhausted. “Why didn’t Jesus come to my rescue today? I need to go and ask.” The Lord said “My son, why don’t you give me all 10 rooms and then, instead of me staying with you, you stay with me?” John broke down. He pulled the key of the front-door from his pocket and handed it to Jesus. Now, he had given it all.
The next morning, it was still dark, when someone was knocking at the front door so hard that the whole building shook. John jumped frightened and shaken out of bed crying “O, it’s the devil again”, when suddenly he heard footsteps – but this time inside the house. Jesus was marching in majesty and power towards the front door. He had the key. It now was His duty to answer the door. John was wondering what would happen and stood right behind Jesus when the Lord opened the door wide. Who was it? The devil of course. But when the devil saw Jesus standing in the door he bowed low, very low indeed, and said “Sorry Sir, I knocked on the wrong door!”
Some have given 9 rooms to Jesus and on the door of room number 10 they have written “Strictly Private”. It is there where they have their secret sins and live their double life. But Jesus cannot be cheated.
So, what is our response? All to Jesus I surrender.