It’s a new year and you’ve made the determination that this is the year you are dedicating your life to follow Christ. No more playing around, this time it’s for real. And then you lose your job. Your spouse tells you they don’t want to be married anymore. Your kid is diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly the thoughts of commitment to God are far away. Despite your best intentions, life jumped up and smacked you in the face. While the previous examples may be on the extreme side (though certainly in this day and age any one of them is within the realm of possibility), the challenge we often face is how to stay focused and committed to Jesus when life gets in the way.
It reminds me of the tithing dilemma. Those who don’t tithe often do not because they don’t have enough money left over to be able to do so. Those who do tithe are generally the ones who give that portion back to God before beginning to pay their other bills. It’s basically a priority problem. When we put God first, He blesses our commitment and provides for our needs. I grew up in the church, and spent my teenage years as a preacher’s kid; I can’t ever recall a family who tithed coming to the church asking for money. I’m not saying it never happens, nor am I guaranteeing that if you tithe you will not face financial difficulty. As a general rule, however, those who give to God first tend to have their needs met in some way; those who don’t seem to struggle more often than not.
So what does tithing have to do with life getting in the way of our commitment to follow Christ? It’s the same issue; the answer is a simple matter of our priorities. Just as needs are met when tithing is prioritized, so will you be given what you need to overcome whatever life throws at you when you put Jesus first. When we make the decision to follow Jesus, we typically profess that we will do so no matter the cost. Yet when the price gets a little steep, we seem shocked to realize that it costs so much! Looking at the life of Jesus, we should know what to expect. Jesus had no permanent home (Matthew 8:20), His close friends betrayed Him (Matthew 26:14-16; John 18:25-27 ) and even died (John 11:32-35). He was disrespected by His friends and family (Mark 3:20; Mark 6:1-4), falsely accused (Mark 26:55-59), tortured (Mark 15:15-20) and murdered (Mark 15:27; Acts 2:22-23). Life certainly got in the way for Jesus, but through it all He maintained an unyielding devotion to helpless humans like you and me. He loves His creation so deeply that no obstacle would ever be big enough to derail Him from His mission.
When life gets in the way, we are getting exactly what we signed up for. If Jesus is our number one priority, then we will accept the consequences of devoting our life to Him. It won’t always be easy and smooth, but if we are to be true followers of Christ then the only road that leads to Him is the one He travelled Himself. Life isn’t easy; it wasn’t easy for Jesus either. Life can be heartbreaking and cruel; Jesus found it to be the same. The point is, no matter what you’re going through, it’s nothing new and should not be unexpected. Jesus gave everything for you; He asks the same from us. When life gets in the way, don’t get discouraged; don’t lose hope and abandon the journey. Recognize that you are simply walking in the footsteps of Jesus and know that every step brings you closer to Him.