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Waste My Life

This is long and theological and if you read the whole thing you can basically skip church for the next month.  (There are some church people out there that just had a heart attack.)  Chill out.  Hyperbole: (n)  A figure of speech.  A literary device. Exaggeration for effect.

If your vision starts to blur and you develop carpel tunnel because of all the scrolling, you can blame my friend, Megan, who got onto me for not posting in a while.  I’ll give you her address so you can send her letters that say,

“I READ THAT WHOLE POST AND MY EYES FREAKED OUT AND SO DID MY FINGERS AND I LOST SLEEP AND YOU CAN EXPECT THE MEDICAL BILL SHORTLY.  I ALSO GOT IN TROUBLE FOR SKIPPING CHURCH AND I HOLD YOU PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE.”

As of late, (one of the many) song(s) I can’t stop listening to is  ”Waste My Life,” by Misty Edwards.

It’s like each line is a principle that is miles deep.  If I were a preacher (another Southern Baptist man  just had a heart attack. I SAID IF!), I would do an entire message series around this song – and sing it every morning during worship.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a preoccupation with the concept of worthiness.  And this song reeks of it.  God’s supreme worthiness is oozing out of every verse.

It begins, “I will waste my life…”

The “on Jesus” is implicit.  I will lavish my life, waste it, if you will, on Jesus.  Which is basically taken RIGHT out of Scripture in Mark 14.

“While [Jesus] was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.  Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. …I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”  [Mark 14:3-9]

It’s not waste if it’s wasted on Jesus.  You know why?  Because he’s worth it.  If He wasn’t worth it (the perfume, the money, the sacrifice, ahem, your life), then it would be foolish; but He is.

The song continues, “I’ll leave my father’s house, I’ll leave my mother…”

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”  [Jesus, in Matthew 10:37-39]

And again,

He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.”
Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”  [Luke 9:59-62]

And again,

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”  [Jesus, in Luke 14:26-27]

Okay, Jesus, third time’s a charm.  We get it.

And BY THE WAY.  If you plan on using these passages as an excuse to get out of family funerals, or cut out your parents because you can’t stand them, or because they’re mean, or whatever – you can go ahead and forget it because that is NOT what Jesus is saying here.   The whole idea of family was God’s in the first place – see Genesis 2.  And God says over and over in scripture to honor our parents and to love our children and invest in their lives.  He says to forgive, to make peace etc. etc. etc.   God is SO NOT COOL with you actually hating your parents or neglecting your family.

What He IS saying – is that if you love your family more than you love Jesus – then your priorities are screwed up.  If you trust your husband more than you trust God, you’ve totally missed it.  If you find more provision from your parents, more joy from your children, more comfort from your brothers and sisters than you find in Christ- then you’ve totally missed it.  You can’t do all the things God wants to do with your life if you’re valuing your family over God.  God has a word for that – when we value lesser things in His place:  He calls it idolatry.

(Another “don’t neglect your family” reminder:  A pastor of mine used to say, “If your family isn’t second, then God isn’t first.”  Food for thought.)

Okay – that was long, but I think the clarification is important.

The song continues, “I am in love with You and there is no cost.”

Without a doubt my favorite line.  There is no cost.   It’s not that following Jesus doesn’t cost us anything (I think the previous verses about leaving our families make that pretty clear), it’s just that God is so WORTH IT, that it’s actually a really good buy.  There is nothing Christ could possibly require me to give, of which He isn’t totally worthy.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”  [Jesus, in Matthew 13: 44-46]

God is of such value that it is a joy to give everything if it means gaining Christ.  I love the story in 2 Samuel where this dude tries to give King David a field so he can use it to worship God.  David goes to pay the guy and he’s all like, “Oh, no, you’re the king; it’s on the house.” And David says, “I will not sacrifice to the Lord that which cost me nothing – I insist on paying for it.”   You see, David knew something of God’s worthiness.

I am in love with Him, and there is no cost.

The song continues, “I am in love with you and there is no loss…”

As if His worthiness wasn’t reason enough  (it is, by the way),  it should also be said that giving everything to God works heavily in your favor.  You’re not getting the short end of the stick or anything.   Cars break down, clothes go out of style, friends move, family members die, our health withers, but God is everlasting, unchanging, the Rock of Ages.  Jim Elliot wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

God says that he takes our ashes and turns them into beauty.  He takes our sorrow and turns it into rejoicing, he takes all our sin and shame and ugliness and replaces it with things like joy, hope and peace. (Shane & Shane have an awesome song where they sing, “I delight myself in the richest offer, trading all that I have for all that is better.”)

Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians,

For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain….whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him…

I am in love with Him and there is no loss.

The song continues, “…I wanna take Your name…I wanna cling to You, Jesus.”

I love the analogy/metaphor/word-picture comparison/whatever of  our relationship with God to a marriage.  So I really love that Misty Edwards wrote about taking Jesus’s name and clinging to him – the way a woman takes her husband’s name, and they cling to each other.  In Genesis, God told man to leave his momma and cling to his wife.  When a guy gets married, his wife becomes his lifeline, not his parents.  She becomes the most intimate, most important, most tender human relationship.  So I love being able to say to Jesus – I want to take YOUR name, I want to cling to YOU.  You are first.  You are most important.  I trust you totally, I love you totally.

The song just builds and builds (musically and theologically) and then it hits the bridge and my heart feels like it might explode.

“I’ll say goodbye to my father, my mother
Turn my back on every other lover
And I’ll press on, yes I’ll press on.”

I suppose if you’ve made it this far the least I can do is reward you with the lyrics and a link to the song.

Voila!  (Do yourself a favor and just look at the lyrics while you listen, not the video of water-color paintings of Jesus in a white robe hugging children and hugging men in the clouds.  There are also rainbows, butterflies, candles and doves.  I’m not making this up.  Note to self: add “make decent Youtube videos for all the good songs” to life list.  Honestly, people.)

That said,

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“I will waste my life
I’ll be tested and tried
No regrets inside of me
Just to find I’m at Your feet
Let me find I’m at Your feet

I’ll leave my father’s house
And I’ll leave my mother
I’ll leave all I have known
And I’ll have no other

I am in love with You
And there is no cost
I am in love with You
And there is no loss
I am in love with You
I wanna take your name
I am in love with You
I wanna cling to You, Jesus
Just let me cling to You, Jesus

I’ll say goodbye to my father, my mother
I’ll turn my back on every other lover
And I’ll press on, yes I’ll press on.”
[I Will Waste My Life, Misty Edwards]

Do you get it?  If Jesus Christ asks you to give all your money to people whom you’ve never met, you empty your bank account. That’s what Mary, the mother of Jesus said.  She said, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

If Jesus asks you to give Him your home – to sacrifice your safe, cozy place.  The place where you unwind after a terrible day.  If He asks you to surrender it and invite into your living room the homeless, the widows, orphans, and children in need – you do it.

If He requires your time of you – you give it. Without reservation you give it.  If he asks you to forgive someone who is totally undeserving – you forgive them.  If Jesus asks you to love someone who makes you uncomfortable, you esteem that person as greater than yourself, even if it makes you squirm.

If He asks you to move – you pull your kids out of their present school and you go.  You lavish your life on Jesus.

If something in your heart falters, if you find yourself saying in your innermost parts, “Ohhh.  Let’s not be rash.  I will give Jesus my life, but He would not ask me to move my kids.”  Then you are the rich young ruler who walked away from Jesus feeling sad, forsaking treasure in heaven because he could not let go of his possessions on earth.

If the supremely worthy, precious, Savior King Jesus tells you to move – across the globe.  To give up big family dinners, to give up your car, your convenience.  To learn a difficult language.  If precious, precious Jesus says to you, “Child, give me your life in this way, that I may use it to reach the uttermost parts of the earth.”

You say, “I will waste my life on You.  I am in love with You, and there is no cost.”

And then you go.

Treasuring Him

For those of you who don’t know, I am completely consumed with the concept of ‘worthiness’ – of ‘worth.’   It’s fascinating to me what people will endure to get to something they consider “worth it.”

–They’ll fetch coffee and dry cleaning and do menial, self-abasing work in an internship for years to secure a job that’s “worth it.”

–They’ll sit on the bench for years to play mere minutes for a team because it’s “worth it.”

–They’ll beat their bodies into submission, get up at ungodly hours, exercise until every muscle is quaking, demonstrate extreme discipline in eating – to achieve a goal that’s “worth it” to them.

All of our choices are ultimately based on what we value.  Subconsciously, we are perpetually placing things on a kind of hierarchy.   You want the shortcut to finding out what’s “worthy” to you?

Look at your checkbook and your datebook.   Whatever you’re spending your money on is what you value.  For example, if I spend more on clothes than I do on my house – it’s because it’s worth it to me to have a so-so decorated living room if it allows me to dress fashionably.  The same principle applies to your calendar.  You spend your time on what you value.  If I spend more time painting than cleaning it’s because I value art more than housekeeping.

Anyway – you get it.

So here’s the catch.  When people say that God is worthy.  What do they really mean?  Worthy of what?  Worthy of going to church once a month?  Worthy of trying not to cuss?  Worthy of selling everything you own and giving it to the poor?

I have quite a lot to say on this subject,  but I think I’ll lead with this video.  I could watch it on repeat and shout, “Amen!” all alone in my house.

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“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him…” [Philippians 3: 8-9]