Then he said to all, “Anyone who wants to follow me must put aside his own desires and conveniences and carry his cross with him every day and keep close to me! Whoever loses his life for my sake will save it, but whoever insists on keeping his life will lose it; and what profit is there in gaining the whole world when it means forfeiting one’s self? (Luke 9:23-25 TLB)
A few years ago, I had the privilege of being given access to some very expensive tools through an estate sale situation. Prior to this offering, I had a couple of power tools inherited from dad, or some that I had picked up along the way when the need arose. They were inexpensive ones and 'did the job' such as drilling a hole or sanding a rough spot out of some wood, but they were definitely not high quality tools. My neighbor was a professional woodworker, having both a small shop in his backyard and a much larger one for his business venture in town. The chance to pick up some very nice tools at a ridiculously low price was amazing and I jumped on the opportunity. You might have guessed it - those 'inferior' tools from my earlier acquisitions paled in comparison to the Dewalt or Rigid tool brands he had acquired and were now becoming mine. I no longer had a use for the older tools and soon parted with them - because I had something of a much higher quality at my disposal! I wonder if we hold onto things from our past lives that are inferior in quality just because we are unwilling to part with them? If we would just realize the 'caliber' of life we have been given, I think we might be less likely to 'hold on so tightly' to those habits, behaviors, and desires that aren't quite of the same "caliber'!
There are indeed desires best left behind as we step into this life with Jesus - but there are others we just don't realize are 'inferior' until we really take time to get to know what he has provided for our enjoyment in this new life with him. We have to actually take time to get to know him and understand how he works - seeing what he offers in light of what we once possessed. As we begin to appreciate the magnificence of what he offers, the desires we once held so dear begin to pale in comparison! We find ourselves actually considering letting go of those things which 'served a purpose', but are no longer of the same importance to us because we have been given something of a much higher 'caliber' in place of those things. When I first acquired all those tools, I parted them out between my two children and kept some for myself. I had no workshop and limited garage space, so incorporating a whole workshop of tools into my 'space' was difficult. In fact, I didn't even know some of the things those tools would do until now! They occupied space in my shed, but now they are available to me because I have made a space for them in a workshop. Oftentimes we need to 'make space' for the things Christ has provided for our use and enjoyment in life. We have to discover their value - but it isn't apparent to us until we actually make that space for them!
Making space for these things Christ has prepared for us is something we do over time. We don't know the half of what he has provided, but as we begin to open those treasures, we find there are indeed huge treasures of much more value than we once thought possible in our lives. We might not even fully appreciate their value when we first discover their presence - but when we allow those provisions to be put into use, we begin to appreciate how much life is enriched because we have these provisions at our disposal. Provisions such as immeasurable peace in the midst of all manner of anguish and hardship. Or that of unlimited grace that helps us be kind even when the natural desire to respond kindly wouldn't be there. We don't possess these things outside of Christ, but we oftentimes don't appreciate their presence in our lives until we make space for these provisions to be put into full use. To make space, we eliminate what once we held onto as those things by which we 'made do' in life. Those habits and behaviors that helped us 'get by', but which really lacked the same quality or caliber of excellence as the privilege and provision he makes available might have served us well at one time, but they won't serve us well over the long haul. We need to embrace what Christ offers, but to do so, we lay down what once we held onto and embrace what he has provided. Just sayin!