Living by faith includes the call to something greater than cowardly self-preservation.
To pray is to give Jesus permission to employ His powers in the alleviation of our distress. To pray is to let Jesus glorify His name in the midst of our needs.
Self-preservation is the first law of nature, but self-sacrifice is the highest rule of grace.
The great and final Garden of Paradise is only to be approached through the Garden of Gethsemane
Behind every specific call, whether it is to teach or preach or write or encourage or comfort, there is a deeper call that gives shape to the first: the call to give ourselves away – the call to die.
As, then, a consummate master teaches both by example and by precept, so Christ taught the obedience, which good men are to render even at the cost of death, by Himself first dying in rendering it.
We see many men who are moved by the desire of transitory things to endure many toils and labors. They will travel great distance and even disregard wife and children and every other glory and enjoyment, and prefer nothing to their purpose in order that they may secure the attainment of their goal. If, then, there are some who make every effort to attain transitory and temporal ends even to the point of laying down their very lives, shall we not deliver our souls and bodies to death for the sake of the King of kings and Lord of lords (I Tim 6:15), the Creator and Sovereign of all things?
If we would indeed know God in growing intimacy, we must go this way of renunciation. And if we are set upon the pursuit of God, He will sooner or later bring us to this test. Abraham’s testing was, at the time, not known to him as such, yet if he had taken some course other than the one he did, the whole history off the Old Testament would have been different. God would have found His man, no doubt, but the loss to Abraham would have been tragic beyond the telling. So we will be brought one by one to the testing place, and we may never know when we are there. At that testing place there will be no dozen possible choices for us; just one and an alternative, but our whole future will be conditioned by the choice we make.
Let this be thy whole endeavor, this thy prayer, this thy desire,–that thou mayest be stripped of all selfishness, and with entire simplicity follow Jesus only.
Self-admiration has created a culture of narcissism and a “love gap” that diminishes us. What the world needs most is a love that is the polar opposite of narcissism. A love that is selfless and self-abandoning. A love that does not ask, “What’s in it for me?” but “What’s in it for those I am privileged to know?” A love that isn’t about being served but serving others. Your dreams come alive when you are preoccupied with making other people’s dreams come true. That is where real happiness is found.