“When you fall in love with someone, you do things you don’t want to do.”
When I heard that comment, it didn’t take me long to think of an experience of doing just that – something I didn’t want to do but did because I love my husband. He needed his pants fixed, and it was going to involve using the sewing machine. This might not seem like a big deal to you, but it was to me. My mom majored in Home Economics in college but, unfortunately for me, my sister got all the craft/sewing genes from her. So thanks to Mom I knew what to do, and I had a nice sewing machine to do it. But it is excruciating for me to sew.
But I love my husband dearly. And I knew he needed me to do this to help him. And I knew I could do it – it would just be an experience that would challenge my patience in a way that few things do. So I determined to do this out of my love for him. I prayed and asked God to give me patience, to help me not get frustrated and angry. I resolved to not complain one bit to my husband about doing this for him. (Although I will confess that I called my mother a couple of times when he was out of earshot!) And although it took much longer than it would have taken my mom to do it, I did it and it looked OK.
The statement above about love, however, wasn’t made about marriage. I was meeting with a church planter and his wife, and we were talking about discipleship. This was his statement about being a disciple of Jesus. I love it.
Jesus never said following Him would be all about what we want and like. In Matthew 16:24-25, He says, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” That is utter surrender to whatever He calls us to do, whether we like it or not. But it is surrender with a promise – a promise that we will find life. It’s a promise we can be confident of as we follow Him because of His character. We know that He loves us, that He is committed to His glory and that His glory is inextricably linked to our good, that He is all-knowing and all-powerful so He knows what is best for us and can accomplish it, and much more. It’s an incredible promise, one Jesus compared to finding a treasure in a field and joyfully going and selling all you have so you can buy the field and have the treasure (Matthew 13:44).
When following Jesus means doing things we don’t like and don’t want to do, it’s easier when we remember His promises and His character and His love for us. And it’s easier when we love Him.
That conversation made me think about what things Jesus might be calling me to do that I don’t want to do. Forgive someone who’s wronged me? Share the gospel with someone even though I’m scared to initiate with them? Give of my money or possessions or my time when I want to hold onto them? Be honest with someone about sin I see in their lives? Take a stand for the right, moral thing even though I may pay a price for doing so?
Will I do what He wants me to do even if I don’t like it? If not, how much do I love Him? I mean really love Him?
It was a new way to think about obedience that I really like. I tend to relate to God far too much as Master/Servant. He is the Master, and I do what He says because there are consequences for sin that I want to avoid and because I want to please Him. But I am also His bride and He is my Bridegroom, and He also wants me to follow Him because I love Him. “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word,” (John 14:23).
My love for my husband led me to do something hard and difficult with the best attitude I could muster in the power of the Holy Spirit. I pray that my love for Jesus will keep growing and will always lead me to do the same.