How many times have we uttered those words, or words similar to that? How many times have we professed to follow Jesus? Have you ever stopped to think about what that really means? Since my time in Suriname, that has been on my mind. What does it really mean to follow Jesus, and am I doing that? Have I completely surrendered myself to Him? Is He truly Lord of my life? If you had asked me these questions a year ago, I would have answered yes without hesitation.
Recently, I was put to the test. Without a doubt, I believed God called me to Suriname. I sold/gave away most of my possessions. Gave my 3 cats away, left my adult daughter behind. No regrets because He called and I followed. Once here, I began to think about what it means to truly follow Christ. I pridefully thought that, yes, I am following Him, because after all, did I not give up everything I had? But it is more than that. Following Him is more than just giving up your worldly possessions. It requires giving up the right to yourself. Giving up your right to have a say in how you live your life. Giving up your possessions is the easy part of following him. After all, even Judas Iscariot did that. When Christ called out the 12 disciples, they all left their jobs, their homes, and some their families to follow him around the countryside. But not all gave their heart. Judas lived with Jesus for 3 years. 3 years of watching Jesus heal the sick, forgive sins, love the unlovable, casting out demons, restoring lives and giving hope. Yet, it never reached Judas' heart. He never truly followed him with his whole being.
I am currently in my 2nd year of a 2 year contract here in Suriname. All summer, the decision to stay a third year was constantly on my mind. Once we all returned to IAS, it was the main topic of many conversations. "Are you staying a third year?" "I don't know, are you?" The December deadline was looming large in front of me. It was something I was constantly praying about. I knew God had called me to Suriname. But I needed to know if He was still calling me to stay longer, or to move on to another country. Then about a month ago, I was at a crossroads. I began to really miss home. I was entertaining the thought of returning to the states. I knew getting a job would not be too difficult. It would be easy to go home. I began to long for it. As I prayed about this, I felt I was at a fork in the road. One way was leading towards "home", the other was leading to complete abandonment to Jesus. Going home would be the safe thing for me. Home is comfortable. I knew if I went home, it would not be God's best. Would I still be saved? yes. Would God still love me? Yes. But for me, I knew I would not be fully following him with my whole heart. I knew it was not the right decision. For me, following Jesus meant giving up EVERYTHING. Even my desire to return home. My life is no longer my own. I am His. My identity is found in Him. I desire to love and serve Him with my whole being. With fear, trembling, and humility, I say, "Yes, Jesus, I will follow where you lead me. I choose to give up my will for your will. I chose to love with abandon. I chose joy in the midst of pain. I chose obedience over comfort. It is you my heart longs for. It is you I live for."
The deadline to turn in my contract for a 3rd year is this week. Monday morning I will hand in my signed contract to the Academic Dean. Yes, I feel like the Lord wants me to stay here in Suriname a 3rd year. I am both excited and terrified. Excited, because I know this is where He has lead me. Terrified, because I chose to give Him complete control of my life to Him. But I know my life is in Good hands. "Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus..."