It is these daily experiences that make my heart ache. Almost everyday there is something that I have to sacrifice. It gives me a new understanding of the christian expression, "dying to self." I realize how selfish I am. I'm painfully aware of how much time I spend enjoying the day-to-day pleasures of this world, instead of being committed to the purposes of God, instead of loving people with the passion that Jesus does.
One person keeps coming to mind.
John the Baptist
He lived in the desert.
He wore clothes made of camel's hair and a leather belt.
He ate locusts and honey.
John didn't enjoy the pleasures of his day. No wife or kids are mentioned. Certainly not a nice house or an afternoon playing golf with friends. And after his brief ministry that paved the way for Jesus, he was thrown in jail. He was eventually executed and his head was offered on a platter to Herod's daughter.
But John's preaching drew multitudes.
"Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins." ~Matt 3:5-6
John's unique dress was foreshadowed by another great prophet. In 2 Kings, Elijah is described as also wearing a camel's hair garment and a leather belt. I can't help but ask why these prophets dressed the way they did? The study notes in my Bible articulate what was already in my heart:
"Elijah's course garments demonstrated the UNVARNISHED TOUGHNESS of his GODLY CHARACTER. His way of dress was an ethical statement - a stark contrast to the self-indulgent luxury enjoyed by the evil kings of his time."
These two men lived a life devoted to God and marked by self-sacrifice. They didn't indulge in the typical lifestyle of their culture. It was because God had called them to do something EXTRAORDINARY. But the road to doing the extraordinary is paved in sacrifice.
Does my obedience and self-sacrifice stand out as unusual?
Is my godly character (evidenced by my thoughts, actions, attitudes, words, decisions, the way I spend my time and resources) a stark contrast to the self-indulgence of our culture?
God has been asking me to give some things up. Things that no one would fault me if I didn't. In fact, some may even think it's crazy radical. But maybe God is calling me to live a life that is extraordinary.
I want my convictions to be echoed in my decisions.
I want my principles demonstrated through my actions.
Even if it means I have to do something radical.
Am I really willing to give it all?
To dress only in camel's hair,
To live in the desert,
To eat locusts and honey,
If that's what God asked me to do?
And I say it with a deep breath and a big gulp.
Because I know at times it will be hard and at times it will be painful.
And people might think I'm weird.
But it will be worth it.