Today, I felt tired; I just wanted a day to myself-a day to do whatever I wanted. While thinking about this, I also remembered a meeting we have this Friday night and selfishly wished I had that night free too. Oftentimes when I find myself in this situation-feeling trapped and burdened, I want to retire into myself-I think that watching a movie or reading a book or doing nothing at all will make everything better. But then, I remember the truth that the Lord has spoken to me so many times. He is my rest and the times when I least want to pray or die to myself are the ones that I am most stretched. By acting faithfully in the face of struggle and not trying to simply escape-I grow. If I act out of what I know to be true and not just what feels good-I grow. The Lord is so gentle and patient with me, because if you could hear him speaking to me you would wonder how many times one person needs to be reminded of the same thing.
Today was our day off and we needed some basic things for the house so we made a trip to IKEA with our friend Monica. Now, I love IKEA, and it was a great day but it was like a field trip-I had to learn something while on my little excursion. For my room, I needed something to hang in my wardrobe that had shelves so I had somewhere to put my clothes. I was looking at the different options and there were the shelves I wanted and then there were some cheaper (and a bit uglier yet useful) ones. Surely you can guess which ones I wanted to get and I was tempted to in fact purchase them but then I heard the voice of reason (Thanks, God). Danielle, thinking aloud about her own choice, said that although she’d like the cuter one-the other was the better choice for a missionary budget. Ughh-she’s right-I can’t just buy whatever I want. I was reminded that I have to be a good steward of the money that the Lord has provided and oftentimes that means going for practical and simple versus aesthetically pleasing.
This may not seem like a very big deal-and in the big scheme of things its not-but it is symptomatic of my daily walk and struggle to die to myself. Getting up when I’d rather sleep in, shopping at the more economical grocery store, holding my tongue when I’d rather say something (this is a big one-and one that God constantly is giving me new chances to work on because I fail so often), and countless other examples. All day, everyday the Lord is calling me to die to my selfishness-to leave behind what I think I want so he can give me what I need.
So, we come full circle-I think I need time to do what I want (me time), yet the Lord says, “amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (John 12:24). I love agricultural analogies from scripture and this was a powerful image for me. When I die to myself, I’m able to bear fruit. It seems backwards but its true! I think I need to write that on my forehead-or maybe just on a piece of paper-but either way that should be my mantra. I want to be fruitful! “For to me life is Christ, and death is gain!” (Phillipians 1:21).