I have been working through a bible study called Not a Fan which challenges Believers to really live out their faith, not just giving “lip service” to God. As I have been doing the study, God has stirred up my heart to truly die to myself, pick up my cross, and follow Him. Of course, when we make a heart commitment of this magnitude, we will be tested in it!
Recently, my husband, Brian and I took a trip to San Diego where God illustrated vividly what “following Him” looks like in both “big” and “little” ways in daily life. With God’s leading, I found myself following Him in a “big” way, boldly stepping out in the homeless community. I had one “free day” on this trip – a day totally to myself while Brian attended business meetings. Instead of going to the pool or spa, I spent the day reaching out to broken people, talking to them and handing out Subway gift cards. You can read the whole post about that here. But, God also showed me how important dying to myself and my desires is in the “little” things – the “dailys” of life, especially in my relationship with my husband.
We were on the airplane returning home. The time change and a busy itinerary had caught up with me and I was exhausted. Snuggled up to Brian, in the middle seat between him and another passenger and under my wonderful fleece blanket, I began to doze. Brian was completing some of his work on the tray table. When the flight attendant began serving beverages, I contemplated having a soda, but didn’t really want to put my tray table down. That would mean I would have to uncross my legs, sit up in the middle seat and place the tray on my lap. In other words, I would have to abandon my very comfy position! I decided to forgo the soda.
When the flight attendant drew closer, I told Brian I was going to skip the soda. He asked if I would put down my tray anyway so that he could put HIS soda can on my table. His work was covering his tiny space and wanted to place his soda on my tray. Ugh!
At that moment, I needed to make a choice – tell him no and sleep comfortably, or sit up and allow him to use my space. God spoke directly to my heart. I knew that following God and dying to self in “little things” meant being uncomfortable to help my husband. Everyday, in our daily lives, we face similar choices to put others’ needs above our own. Living an unselfish life means not taking the best for ourselves, but giving it to others. Following God means we will make sacrifices – sometimes great and sometimes small. Often we think of “sacrifice” as a mission trip across the world, but sometimes “sacrifice” simply means putting down a tray table on an airplane when you don’t feel like it.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 NIV
Sometimes, for us as Christian women, we find it easy to serve the church and help strangers, but struggle with lovingly and selflessly serving our husbands and children. I would never snap at someone in my small group, so why would I find it easier to allow short-tempered outbursts escape from my lips at home? Why would I have a giving attitude with someone needing help in ministry, but measure helping my husband against how much he helps me? We sometimes forget that our first ministry is at home. The very first place to die to self, pick up my cross, and follow Jesus is within the walls of my own home! As Christian women, we often serve willingly and lovingly on boards and committees, volunteer with church activities and ministries while giving our families the “leftovers.” The Bible reminds us to take care of our family first.
“….these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family…for this is pleasing to God.” 1 Timothy 5:4 NIV
Although these verses are speaking to financially helping widows in your family, I believe the principle applies to us all. God wants our first “ministry” to be our family – not church activities, blogging or other ministries! Especially as a wife, I can follow Christ by loving my husband, even when it means I don’t “get my way.” I think of Jesus, our beautiful example as He knelt at the feet of the disciples, lovingly serving them and reminding them (and us) to serve others.
Father God, thank You for loving me and giving me the opportunity to follow You. Help me to be a FOLLOWER, dying to my own needs and comforts. Help me to love my husband in tangible ways. Lord, help me to follow You in every area of my life, both “big and small.” In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
By Tracy Berta