When I was saved in March, I had no clue how difficult the Christian life would be. I had no idea of what would soon be required of me.
You see, I had been preparing for half a year to to enter into a doctoral program. I had studied to take the GRE test again, taken it and mismanaged my time but somehow came out with a higher score, applied to a few schools, and then waited. All of this cost a lot of time, energy, and money. In fact, the last university I applied to I had completed the paperwork a few hours before I was saved. I had been rejected by the first two universities I applied to, and I expected the same response. So when April rolled around and I received a letter of acceptance, I was quite shocked. And at an impasse because I felt like perhaps this was not God's plan for me. At first I was adamant that I would accept the offer- of course! Only a fool would say no. But I began to have doubts about that response. I couldn't put my finger on it, but the one thing I had so desired most out of life and what I wanted more than anything else in life, before I was saved, was to be accepted into a doctoral program and begin the long journey to be Dr. Massie. It was a dream in the process of being fulfilled. And now that I was a believer, I was starting to think that perhaps my life was not meant to go in that direction because it had been an idol in my life. The most beloved treasure. The more I thought and prayed about it, the more I wrestled to know what I should do.
As I began to pray I suddenly realized that my motives were for selfish ambitions, which included pride. I realized that the love I had for this program was an idol in my life- I held it in higher esteem than God for the longest time, and it appeared it was still an idol because I knew if I gave up this dream I would regret it for the rest of my life in misery. I know that sounds dramatic, but that's how strong of a pull this dream of mine had on me. You know something is an idol when you don't want to let it go willingly, when only death or a serious wake up call will force you to let it slip from your hands. And then I read the verse in Luke 9:62
"Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
I was startled by that verse. I had just become a new believer. I had just put my hand to the plow, and here I was looking back at the idol of my heart and wanting to cling to it too. I knew in that moment that God was giving me a choice- Choose your dream and it's and apparent you were never saved to begin with or Choose Me and you have assurance of salvation. At that point I made a 180 and decided to say no to my dream. It wasn't worth the risk the Bible laid out for me.
(It's here that I want to be clear that sometimes dreams are good things, and sometimes God allows our dreams to be fulfilled for His glory, but the baseline of my dream was selfish ambition rooted with pride and idolatry. And I only realized that my desires were sinful when God revealed it to me as I read His Word. And if they're sinful motives, then we cannot pursue those things until our desires are pure and His alone.)
With a heavy heart and sobbing (no, I'm serious), I replied to the email respectfully declining the offer. I was so attached to this idol, I don't remember crying more or harder in my life that day I made the choice to give up my will. That's how tough it was. And that's also a sign something is an idol. But I did it, and it was only because of God. I could have never done that on my own. I had initially purposed to accept no matter what the cost, and here I was balling like a child surrendering the very thing I said I never would.
I don't know if I'll ever apply again. I'm working on ridding myself of selfish ambition and pride at the moment, so until I have conquered those, I can't go back. I do know that sometimes God does allow us the desires of our hearts, and other times, He does not. Nate Saint had a dream of becoming a pilot, but felt God calling him to be a missionary. He gave up those desires and God gave Nate back his dream by allowing him to become a missionary pilot. Whereas Oswald Chambers had the dream of becoming an artist, but relinquished those desires when God called him to the ministry. Chambers never used the gift he had as a career like he wanted. And these are just a few stories of how God uses and even at times discards our desires to conform to His desires. For me, so far He has said no. And if He says no for the rest of my life, then that's what I have to accept because Christ is my Lord now.
Surrender is a lifelong process, and it is difficult when you make things idols. God gives us the grace to surrender though. I would encourage you to look at your life and see what needs to be surrendered. What is God telling you to relinquish? We all have something God wants us to give up for His glory. And though we may not know why right now or how our life will pan out, we trust that God has an even better journey for us than we could have possibly planned.
10/6/2022 06:02:44 pm
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Published in Boundless, Devozine, The Lookout, The Life, The Secret Place, and many more, Ashlea is a freelance writer on the side and English professor who spends her free time posting here on her blog.