radical

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Last week, I became reacquainted with a blog I used to read years ago. I had three years of posts to catch up on, and I was transfixed. It’s not how I usually approach blogs. I don’t typically have time to read through someone’s entire library of blog posts, but I could not stop with this woman’s story. It is not an exaggeration when I say that every time I sat at the computer for something other than work, it was her blog I was reading.

For three consecutive days.

Her story of giving it all up and living radically in the midst of the ordinary - it’s everything I want to be and do. Would I be willing to do the kind of things she did? Can I give up my dreams of a bigger country house, a comfortable lifestyle, a family that looks and, even more importantly, behaves a certain way? Can I lay it all down for the sake of truly living?

It’s popular right now to talk about living radically, and it’s becoming even more popular to criticize it – to say that it’s just as good to plod along, to live quiet, ordinary lives where we are in the suburbs. There’s nothing at all wrong with the suburbs. There’s nothing wrong with choosing things that look ordinary to everyone else. We also need to be careful that we don’t put a specific “holiness” grade on different lifestyles. But these criticisms increasingly read more to me like a defense for doing what we want to do rather than an example of what following Christ might look like in the suburbs, as a stay-at-home-mom, as someone with an ‘ordinary’ business job. It feels like we’re expending a lot of energy explaining our decisions to make ourselves comfortable rather than encouraging people to live radically for Jesus WHEREVER that may be.

If you’re living for Jesus, truly living out His teachings, following His example of sacrifice, then you are living a radical life. It doesn’t look the same for everybody – some people are working in Africa, some people are living in economically depressed communities, some are in the suburbs, some are in high-end gated communities – but there is nothing ordinary about following Jesus with everything that you are. There is no plodding along in this Christian life.

For me, this looks like examining every decision in the light of what it means to follow Jesus daily. Am I willing to lay down my own desires so that I can be ready for what God has for me? Am I willing to lay down my pride so that I can say ‘yes’ with a surrendered spirit? Am I willing to make decisions about my finances, my future, even my children with Jesus as my first priority?

These have been really, really hard questions for me to address. It’s been a painful journey to let go of some of these things. Even still, I’m clinging too tightly to certain things in my life, unwilling to let them go, relinquish control. My children’s future. Getting out of debt. Having nice things. Planning for a bigger home. Leisure time. Relaxing activities. Good grief, I could make a list for days of all the things I don’t want to let go of, and one by one, I’m trying to release them.

God is calling me to live a radical life. I don’t know if it will look much different from the outside than the one I’m living right now, but what I do know is that I won’t be able to do it with my fists clenched tight around all of my dreams, my things, my family. I’m laying it all down with a willing heart and open hands. All of it a yes to the One who calls me.

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