This might sound morbid, but the idea of losing my life for Jesus, while scary, is something I kind of figured was a possibility. As such, even though I’m afraid of being harmed and killed (seriously, it does terrify me!) it’s been a part of my internal processing of my call. (Not because there is anything inherently unsafe about the D.R.! Anytime we are engaged in God’s work, there are risks.)
So, while I’m not particularly brave, losing my life is not a way out-there thought. I’ve kind of approached this whole thing about laying down my life and taking up my cross as giving up my stuff, my sense of belonging, enduring hardships and frustration, doing with less and possibly even dying physically. Yep, I’ve been feeling pretty good about my depth of understanding…
What I’m learning here at MTI is that it goes way, way deeper than I had previously comprehended.
As I’ve blogged, we’ve been learning about different styles for handling conflict. We’ve also been learning about entering into a new culture. To not stay aloof and outside, but to Exit our (safe, secure, known) vantage point and Enter into theirs (which will feel unsafe, uncomfortable, and often downright ‘wrong’).
Yes, some of the ways I do things need to change. But, I am realizing it goes way past that. To truly enter another culture means I'm going to be changing who I am. And the question which came to my mind today was, What if I am not called to physically lose my life, but to somehow stop being the Kim I know myself to be?
I have come to the place where I am able to hold my material things, as well as things like support-raising, trusting God to help me learn Spanish, have effective ministry, make friends, etc., relatively loosely. I no longer clutch frantically at stuff that used to freak me out. But this. Well, this is different.
The other is external. It’s on the outside of me. I’m okay with God asking me to sacrifice any and all of that. Or, at least, I’m growing into a place of being okay with it! Now I am discovering what is being asked of me is not just doing without all the outer trappings. Instead, I am being asked to consider the possibility that I will need to give up what makes me me.
I say my identity is in Jesus, and Him alone. Suddenly, I see how flippantly I’ve recited those words. Because, what I’ve been saying is that the me I know myself to be is who is in Him. That’s not it at all. Or, not all of it. I am called to deny myself. Not deny my stuff, but deny my-self. To turn away from me. Only in this way can I turn fully to Jesus. As a new creation I am not a rebuilt version made up of the old stuff. I am to become completely new. The very substance of me is to change.
Can I just say, this terrifies me. When I look in the mirror, who will I see if I am not the Kim I know? Can I trust God? Can I trust the One who knew me before I was born, and purposed my life before the foundations of the earth? Can I trust that when I no longer know who I am, God will fill me, and give me a new identity in Him?
John 15 keeps coming back again and again. Jesus is the Vine, I am a branch. I need to remain attached to Him. I also need to understand that the Father prunes those who are in the Vine. Do I trust the Master Gardener to lovingly cut away the unfruitful, unhealthy parts of me which are keeping me from living more fully into the Kim He died to save? Tonight, all I can do is cling to the cross.