Posted by Joel Osteen on 5/3/2013
So many people today are on a journey of self-discovery. They want to "find themselves" or find their significance in this life. They want to feel fulfilled and know their place in this world. If we turn to scripture, we see that in God's kingdom, things operate opposite our natural thinking. Scripture says to give in order to receive, to bless those who curse you, and if you want to find your life, you first have to lose it.
My friend, Richard Stearns is the President of World Vision. In his new book, Unfinished, he tells the story of how he "found" his life.
"Rarely is the invitation to join God's rescue mission as direct and overt as it was for me in 1998. At the time, I was living my version of the American dream as the CEO of Lenox, the venerated American china company. I had one of those jobs that most people just dream of, leading a prestigious company with four thousand people working for me, a huge salary, and all the perks. It had taken me twenty-five years and a whole lot of long hours and hard work to get there. And on the day that I received this dramatic invitation from God, I certainly wasn't thinking about changing the world or building His kingdom. I was mostly concerned with my own success: my family, my career, my reputation, and my lifestyle. Oh sure, I was a Christian. I was one of those deciders who made the decision to accept Christ as my Savior while in graduate school. But I can't say I had truly become a disciple. I hadn't yet laid down my most precious possessions at Jesus' feet. I looked the part—went to church every Sunday, attended a weekly Bible study group, sat on the board of a Christian school, and had a big Bible sitting on my big CEO's desk for everyone to see. I had some glistening spiritual muscles. I had my fire insurance policy, and now I was just enjoying the good life. I hadn't really understood that Jesus had called me to enlist, to replace my agenda with His agenda, to repent, and follow him—until the phone rang.
The call was from an executive recruiter retained by the huge Christian relief and development organization, World Vision, to find their new president. On that morning, through that phone call, Jesus was inviting me once again to follow Him, to become His disciple. He was giving me an opportunity to partner with Him in changing the world by proclaiming the good news to the poor that "the kingdom of God has come near." World Vision, with its forty-five thousand staff members in almost one hundred countries, represents one of the great battalions in God's kingdom advance. I was being offered the astounding privilege of a command post at the front lines of the battle. There was only one problem: I didn't want to join the battle. I was enjoying civilian life far too much, and I didn't want to drop what I was doing, quit my job, cut my pay, sell my house, move my family, and go to the front lines. Jesus seemed to be asking me for the most valuable things I possessed.
Do you remember a similar 'phone call' about two thousand years ago that came to Simon Peter and Andrew as they were fishing on the Sea of Galilee? I try to imagine Peter and Andrew saying something like this to Jesus: 'We'd love to come, Jesus, but you need to understand that the fishing business is just starting to take off. We've found some new investors, and we're about to expand our fleet to four boats. We've rented some retail space and are planning to expand into ten new markets. Besides, Andrew has just broken ground on a brand new house and is carrying two mortgages. We'd love to join you, Jesus, but now is just not a good time. You understand.' That pretty much sums up what I wanted to say to that recruiter. In fact, I did say something similar—that I wasn't interested or available. But that's not what Peter and Andrew said. They immediately dropped their nets and followed Him. No hesitation and no questions asked. 'Jesus, we're all in. Just show us what you want us to do.'
Although I lacked the immediate enthusiasm of Peter and Andrew, I ultimately did make the difficult choice to surrender all to Jesus. I reluctantly quit my job. We sold our house, pulled our kids out of school, moved across the country, and began what would become the greatest adventure of our lives. After saying yes to God, I experienced the privilege of serving on the front lines of the kingdom, the satisfaction of joining God's great mission, the wonder of discovering gifts and talents I had never before used, and the joy of feeling for the first time in my life that I was doing what I was created to do. While it is trite to say I had 'found myself,' I had found myself by losing myself in God's service."
Today, if you've been holding on to your life's agenda, be willing to surrender it all to God. Trust that His best is far greater than anything you could ever imagine. Believe that He is good and desires the best for you. Surrender all to Him and watch Him use you and multiply you in ways you've never dreamed!
"For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it." (Luke 9:24, NKJV)