"Simply put, if you're not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can't be My disciple."
- Luke 14:33 MSG
This past summer, my husband, Joe, and I decided that we should let our ducks, Lily and Larry, have babies. We hoped that allowing Lily to have a family might spare her from the laying problems that our previous female ducks had suffered. Things didn't go quite as well as we had expected. When the ducklings arrived, Lily was hostile toward them, and we ended up having to keep them in our house. For two weeks, we devoted countless hours to their care. And we began to form a bond with them, and they with us. Joe and I both agreed that it was time to take them to a nearby farm that was happy to care for them. As much as it hurt us to part with "our babies," we knew it was the right thing to do, and we had a deep-down peace about it.
Jesus said, "If you're not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can't be My disciple." (Luke 14:33 MSG) I've learned that there are times when the Lord asks us to choose between Him, and people and things we love. In this case, He was asking me to give up my ducklings. When He first started dealing with me about it, I began trying to justify my keeping them by telling myself that they wouldn't be so time-consuming as they got older. Then I'd come to my senses and admit to myself that they had to go. At one point, I came up with a plan to give all the ducklings away, except one. I discovered that the smallest one belonged to a rare breed, and I began to rationalize my keeping him alone. But after seeking the Lord about it, He made me realize that partial obedience is actually disobedience, and I made up my mind once and for all that I was going to obey God.
As believers in Christ, we are anointed by the Holy Spirit to do difficult things with an inner peace and joy. Well-meaning people may say, "How can you do that? It's going to be so hard for you!" When I'm faced with these situations, one of the first things I do is to claim God's promise in Philippians 4:13 (TLB), which says, "I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power." God is not going to call us to give up something we care about and then say, "Good luck--you're on your own! Just do the best you can!" He and His divine enablement are going to be with us every step of the way. Scripture says: "Be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]." (Ephesians 6:10 AMP) Those of us who walk in close fellowship with the Lord will have continual access to the supernatural strength and power that our union with Him provides. Not only that, but we will have His supernatural comfort, too. Jesus said, "I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you." (John 14:18 KJV) God's presence in our lives gives us comfort, especially when we ask for it. When I'm feeling the pain of loss or disappointment, I don't hesitate to say, "Lord, I'm hurting now, and I really need You to comfort me in a big way." God is not going to hesitate to comfort us when we are suffering as a result of trying to please Him.
Once we say goodbye to the things that the Lord asks us to leave behind, it's important that we don't look back or dwell on what we've lost. Jesus said, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things behind] is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62 AMP) Looking back will hinder our moving forward. The Lord always has better things waiting for us up ahead, and that's what we must focus on. In situations like these, I like to recall the wise words I once heard a godly man say: "Always look at what you have left. Never look at what you have lost." This enables us to have an "attitude of gratitude," which Scripture says is our responsibility as believers. "Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be; be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP) If we are honest, we'll admit that we can always find something to be grateful for in every situation. What is the Lord asking you to say goodbye to today? Whatever it is, rest assured that once you leave it behind, you will be richly rewarded by a loving and grateful God!
Prayer: Lord, show me if there are any things in my life that You want me to let go of at this time. Give me a keen awareness of how You've equipped me to separate myself from things and people that are hindering my walk with You. Thank You that as I press on to do Your will, You will lead me into the awesome plans and purposes You have in store for me!
- J. M. Farro