When I was a teenager and in my early 20s, I was pretty miserable most of the time. For years, I flailed around in search of meaning and purpose for my life. I explored and studied, seeking to find meaning in some philosophy, political system, or great idea. I thought I was willing to sacrifice anything for the truth. Yet, throughout my experience of darkness, loss of meaning and despair, I never let go of the illusion that I was in control of my own destiny. The fortress of my life may have been burning down around me, but I was king of the castle!
When I made the decision to follow Jesus, I encountered a whole new kind of fire. I began to perceive that my choice to surrender my life to God would involve a kind of agony I had never allowed myself to experience before. Startlingly, when I told Jesus that he could have control over my life, he took me up on the offer!
One moment that drove this reality home for me was a conversation that I had shortly after committing to become a disciple. I had done something thoughtless. I was careless with the feelings of another person. I acted selfishly. And when they confronted me about how my actions had been hurtful, I wanted to shrug it off. It wasn’t such a big deal, really, I told myself.
Then came the words I’ll never forget: You talk so much about Jesus, yet you act this way!