I am going to Macedonia! This has been the constant driving force in my life for months and now, the reality is upon me. For, indeed, after 12 hours of airport travel, a train ride and now with just a 2 hour car ride separating us, Macedonia is so close I can taste it.
As we load our luggage into the 15 passenger van we have procured, I find myself reflecting on the past 9 months. Funny how one sermon can change your life.
It all started in January when our pastor began a new series called "Cross Walking”. The theme verse was from Galatians. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave up himself for me.”
I firmly believe that Gods will for our lives is to grow as deeply devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. I jotted down notes as Pastor Tim preached. “Daily dying to sin and selfishness so I can serve others in Jesus name.” Heaviness pressed in on my heart. “A Cross Walker is someone who daily dethrones self from the throne of their hearts and freely places Jesus Christ on the throne.”
I thought of several recent events that clearly showed me who was sitting on my throne and it wasn’t Jesus. I fidgeted in my seat. That verse about picking up your cross and following Jesus? That is not on my list of favorite verses!
A battle began to play out inside my head; my good self vs. my bad self. For every selfish action I could remember displaying in the past few months, a justification arose. For every justification, a gentle prodding forced me to re-examine my thoughts.
If you try to keep your life for yourself you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me you will find true life. (Mark 9.24) This wasn’t the first time I had engaged in the tug of war over who’s going to be in charge. But this was the first time I felt really challenged to do something significant to prove I was sincere about wanting to follow Jesus.
Pastor Tim was wrapping up the sermon and the praise band was moving back into place as I shuffled my bulletin and inserts to my bible. My eyes fell on the announcements. A mission trip to Macedonia was being planned for the coming fall. An informational meeting was being held today after worship for anyone who was interested. A seed was planted.
The service was concluded with the invitation to come forward for communion. In addition to the elements of bread and drink, I saw a basket filled with miniature wooden crosses. Pastor Tim invited us to take a cross as symbol of our desire to Cross Walk for Jesus.
Back in my seat I remember bowing my head, the small wooden cross clutched tightly in my hand. “OK Lord” I whispered. “I am going to commit to obey you in whatever you tell me to do. I want my love for you to be bigger and stronger than my fear of what others think.”
So, that is how, nine months later, I came to be standing here with a group of other believers, hot and weary from the long hours of travel, yet excited to be so close to our final destination.
Together with a family chosen by Habitat for Humanity Macedonia, we will be helping to construct a new home. We will have opportunities to share the gospel with them through our endeavors.
As the last bag is loaded in the van, I adjust my day pack. On the zipper is the small wooden cross, my constant reminder of a daily dying to sin and selfishness so I can boldly serve others in Jesus name.
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