Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for? (Mark 8:36)
Let him lead - how do we actually do that? Most of us actually believe we want him to lead, but we have absolutely no clue how on earth we accomplish this in our lives. We 'intend' to let him lead and then all of a sudden, like an alien possesses our soul, we are doing what we want to do and forget all about letting him take the lead. What happened? It wasn't that we weren't desiring to let him lead - it was that we just didn't know how to do it. We are going to unpack this a bit, and it may not be what you want to hear, but I think it is what we need to hear!
The more principles we learn from the Word of God, the less we have to pray about what to do in life. The less likely we are to get off track with wrong choices. That isn't rocket science, but believe it or not, there are hundreds of believers who barely know God's Word. They hear it at church on Sunday, but they don't get into it on their own. Why? They don't realize how important it is to get into it and let it get into them. Jesus tells us to follow him and he will show us how to live with him in control - forsaking all the effort toward 'self-help' we may want to proclaim we are embracing.
Principles found in the Word of God are what will sustain us in times when we face suffering. Wonder why you cannot 'embrace suffering'? You likely haven't embraced God's principles because you have allowed yourself the time to actually get into his Word and allow his Word to get into you. We trade the principles of God for the principles this world offers us through media, self-help books, and social media posts. What? You mean those principles aren't trustworthy? No, they aren't! Even when the thing we are studying is based upon the Word, we aren't 'in the Word' until we test that 'study' against what the Word says!
Do you think God just wants us to trust every 'fly by night' set of principles that come along? Absolutely not! In fact, he tells us to explore him - his principles - so that we can be so acquainted with his truth that every element of truth that we hear resounds and impacts our lives; every untruth that we hear becomes so apparent that we discard it immediately. The principles we learn today will protect us tomorrow when we are exposed to things we are not to embrace at all. Do you realize we keep 'lists' of what we believe God is and how he acts? These lists are not always accurate, though. When we don't get into the principles of God's Word and learn who he is, we will have an 'inaccurate' list of his plans, purpose, and power.
If we want to follow, we have to let him lead. If we want to let him lead, we have to get to know how he leads. How do we learn this? You got it - you get into his Word and you get to know him. The principles of God's Word aren't just 'good news' - they are evidence of how he moves, what he prioritizes, how he sees the world (and you), and even what he expects of each of us. Maybe that is why we avoid the Word so much - we don't want to discover his priorities because they might just impact ours. We might not like it, but we need to discover this stuff, my friends! Just sayin!