For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour, we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. -Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 4:9-13) Who wants to sign up to be a radical apostle that changes the world now?
I know I've told the story before, so I'll give the brief version. At 16 years old God spoke to me and radically changed my life. I was so overwhelmed with gratefulness at His love and mercy that I prayed prayers that I like to call, "Dangerous prayers". You know the ones that go like this, "God I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, take me ANYWHERE, God take away ANYTHING that ever competes with You because all I want is YOU, I will go to the darkest places of the world, I will forsake all, I will follow you to the ends of the earth". At the time I thought yes, this is who I am, laid down lover for Jesus who is willing to pay any price. Perhaps I didn't realize that God has this really interesting characteristic about Him... He actually trusts us. (hold the stones) He trusts us so much He gave us Holy Spirit. He trusts us so much He gave our words power and authority. He trusts us so much that when we pray, He acts on our prayers.
It took a long time before I realized that what I was praying was going to have major repercussions on my life. I didn't realize that the "darkest of the dark places" were so scary. At one point God had me youth pastoring in a really rough neighborhood with kids that had juvenile records, but that place didn't scratch the surface of the places He had planned for me. I didn't realize that I had things I loved so much that they would actually compete with God for my love and attention. I didn't realize that God would literally heed my prayer and take away every single person and every single distraction that stole from His affection. I didn't know that forsaking all would mean laying down comfort, sometimes things that seemed logical, at other times people like family and friends... Let me just say it out right, I didn't understand the cost of the prayers that I had spoken out of excited devotion.
Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. (Luke 17:33)
I haven't written much lately because I've been writing a book about the trials and hardships of life. The whole premise of the book is that trials and tribulations are an invitation to know more of our Creator. As I'm writing the book, of course I'm reflecting on my journey and the various "hard times" I've encountered. I'm realizing that many of these trials were an attack from an enemy trying to derail my course, some of course were God's testing, and you know what else? A good percentage were just flat from me. What's interesting is in that category some were because I made mistakes, I didn't listen well, I didn't pray through, I allowed myself to get in the flesh etc etc, but I truly believe some were invited in by my own prayers. You don't pray the prayer of "God make me like You" without being tested. There is no refining without fire. You don't say, "God I want to love like You" without having your love tested to the max. You definitely don't pray, "God send me where no one else will go" and expect that God won't prepare you to go where literally no one else will go. God listens to those prayers and He has full intention of setting you in a process to get you there.
I'm sitting here in my "Jesus chair" in my room and I'm listening to Kristene DiMarco's new album, "Mighty". (Short plug, buy the album, and I'm not just saying that because her husband is one of my pastors) As I was listening, I was just worshiping and then this line came on, "I have decided and I have resolved in my heart, that I will go anywhere, anywhere just to see Your face. Moments may come when I feel so afraid, but I rest in the promise that you have made, that You will remain faithful."
Serving God does cost something and anyone who tells you it doesn't, is just flat out selling a false Gospel. What I will say is this, the price you pay is NOTHING, compared to what you get in return. It is by far the greatest retirement plan you will ever be offered, but we are human and sometimes we have a really hard struggle looking at rewards in the future when faced with the cost right now.
I've sacrificed a lot in this journey with Christ to be obedient to Him and my bet is you have too. . Sometimes I've paid a cost He wasn't asking for, He wanted obedience, not sacrifice. Sometimes I've missed it when He was asking for something and hindsight revealed it. I believe we've all paid a price, but there's no need to go through and talk about it all because for the most part it's seemingly irrelevant. What you have paid and what you will pay, is nothing when you look in His eyes.
Today I wanted to remind you of some things. I received a message a few days ago from someone and they were telling me a prophetic dream they had about my future. I read the words and I began to cry. She described something that I've never told anyone ever before, but God had spoken to me about years ago. What she doesn't know is how many times I've questioned that this dream was from God. How many times I've gone through trials that went straight at stealing that Word from Him. How many times I've thrown my hands in the air and wanted to give up. How many times I've made sacrifices with that word from Him in mind.
What is it God has called you to do? Chances are it's going to mean sacrifices on your behalf. Has He asked you to write a book, it'll mean hours and hours of study, prayer, and focus. You'll have to say no to other things, so that you can say yes to that book. Has He called you to be a missionary? It might mean saying goodbye to family and friends for years at a time. Depending on the location, it might mean high risk of your life. Has He asked you to be a pulpit minister? It means hours of time in the Word, hours with Him getting His heart, it'll cost. Has He asked you to be a mom? It'll mean giving up the ability to just go on a road trip whenever you want, it'll mean giving up your body and sleep patterns for those He's asked you to Shepherd.
Years ago I read something by Kathryn Kuhlman that wrecked me. Kathryn paid a price for the anointing on her life. She spent hours upon hours upon hours with Holy Spirit. She gave up many of the pleasures that are so natural for us, so that she could cultivate a very intimate relationship with Holy Spirit. If you study the revivalists you'll find a similar pattern, John G Lake, Maria W. Etter, Rees Howells, Heidi Baker, Evan Roberts.. etc. They paid a price. They were willing to lay things down in order to gain deeper intimacy with Him.
We'll all have various prices to pay for the calling on our life, the question will be are you willing? Are you willing to listen as He beckons you deeper? Are you willing to lay down some things that have been holding you back? Are you willing to change for more of Him? I'm not here to tell you what it should look like for you, I'm just here to stir you to ask Him. What would it look like for me to go deeper in relationship with You Lord?
There is no price to great.
Be Blessed, J. Tate