Late last year a friend and I took three local lads to go and see The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe performed by Bath City Church. They were given the tickets to the show as a Christmas present by one of the local churches; so we drove them down, walked through Bath Christmas Market and then went on to see the show.
Sounds like a nice night out, right?
Wrong. I don’t like going to theatre productions. They’re just not my thing. But I agreed to go with my friend because recently I’ve begun to better understand what Jesus means when he says that “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”
I have a 2:1 in Computer Science from the University of Bristol. I’m smart, do well in interviews, and enjoy problem solving. I am confident (cocky as this may sound) that I could be on a £35k salary by now, if I wanted to be. I could have a nice car, a nice house, possibly even a family. I could be looking at a promotion in the near future.
All of that would take a lot of my time, energy, effort and attention. I could hang on to the life laid ahead of me, drummed into me since school – get a job, get a car, get a house, climb the career ladder, pay my taxes, retire, enjoy my last years, and then die.
All that hard work, and for what? A nice house and a good retirement? Really? That was worth it?
Back to the boys. What I found was, despite my inbuilt dislike of all things theatrical or musical, I had a fantastic night. Not because of the theatre. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever watched – I’m sure it’s great if you’re into that sort of thing. No, the reason I had such a good time was because I watched three lads experience something fresh, new and exciting – and I watched the joy on their faces. I saw how much they appreciated what was happening around them. I saw life being experienced in its fullness.
I lost my evening. But in the process of giving it up, I found it.
I think the same is true of our lives as a whole. We spend so much time building up our own experiences, our own kingdoms, our own ways, ideas, places, things – and nowhere near enough time stopping to think about what it might be like to serve others and their ways, their customs, their things. We spend no time stopping to wonder what life might be like if we were to share our ideas with others and share in theirs. We don’t pause and wonder, what if that’s what Jesus meant when he said “not my will, but Yours be done”?
If there’s one thing I can be sure of, it is that God loves me. If God loves me, then he wants the best for me. So if I give up serving myself and instead serve others; I know He will not let me down. I know that I was created to enjoy this life. To have life in all its fullness, was, after all, Jesus’ gift to us. Yet it required that we might take up our ‘crosses’ and follow Him.
Perhaps if we let go of our dreams, and we embraced God’s will in our lives, we would find the peace that surpasses understanding. We would know what it means to find true life.