I read this quote today in a Gospel for Asia newsletter, from a 19 year old in Canada: “How can I live a ‘normal’ Christian lifestyle when Jesus said we must forsake all to follow Him?”
The article went on to point out that many people stopped following Jesus when His teachings got “hard”. Peter, however, had a different perspective. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Jesus doesn’t call us to a “normal” life. What IS normal, anyway? Normal in America is a totally different thing than normal in Zimbabwe. Normal in my house was totally different from normal in my friends’ and neighbors’ houses.
To that point, I saw this link the other day. A photographer photographed kids and their bedrooms in countries around the world—take a look!—normal is radically different depending on where you come from.
God’s not interested in normalcy – He’s interested in radical and complete obedience. His standard isn’t normal—it’s ALL. It’s selling EVERYTHING you have to purchase the field that has the great treasure in it. It’s forsaking your family. It’s selling all you have and giving it to the poor and following Him. It’s picking up your cross to follow Him, in whatever form that may take for you in your life and your circumstances.
How can we live “normal” lives when God wants EVERYthing???? And who wants “normal” when God promises things like purpose and love and joy and the Holy Spirit and that He will make us new creatures, holy as He is holy—if only we give it ALL to Him?
God’s not interested in normal, and when I think about it, neither am I. I don’t want normal; I want extraordinary. I want unique. I want something amazing and out of the box. Don’t you? Guess it’s a good thing we signed up for Jesus!
I love the quote in Little Women when Jo is upset because everyone is getting married and going away, etc…things are changing…but Jo wants them to stay as they have been. She just had to tell her best friend that she didn’t want to marry him… and it makes her wonder, “What’s wrong with me?” She has to wonder why she isn’t able to follow the same path everyone else is following in the same timeline… she wonders why she’s not “normal”. Her mother said something that has always spoken to me (excuse my paraphrase): “Jo, you have so many extraordinary gifts, why do you think you would be content to live an ordinary life?”
Frankly, I think Jesus has been speaking this to me my whole life. Not because I’m extraordinary, but because His plan for me is, and because He knows that He wired me in a way that nothing short of his extraordinary plan for my life would satisfy me. He’s saying it to you too, fellow follower. “I created you with such an extraordinary purpose and unique gifts and talents…so why on earth do you think you’ll be satisfied with anything else? Why do you expect to be content with “normal”? That’s not what I made you for.”
Sometimes, in our quest to live the extraordinary, sold out, ALL in, obedient life, it’s helpful to set before our eyes others who have done so before us. Here are some of the stories which have encouraged me.
- One of my favorite stories about someone who dared to leave “normal” and to be obedient (the result of which was extraordinary, to be sure), is Christy, by Catherine Marshall. It’s an amazing book and was also a darling TV series which I still enjoy watching. It’s technically historical fiction, but I have it on good authority that it was very largely based on one of her relatives.
- Another absolute favorite that rocks my world every time I see it is the movie, Faith like Potatoes, which is a true story. I believe you can instant download it on Netflix.
- Another amazing story that you can see on Netflix is The Cross and the Switchblade. It’s dated, but the story is incredible. It’s also a book (but I haven’t gotten to that one yet!).
- Also incredible book/movie about a man who is totally not doing the “norm” (both have their merits, but the book emphasizes prayer and the miraculous things that occurred far more) is Machine Gun Preacher (the book is called Another Man’s War).
- A few others worth reading: Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire; Radical; Jesus Freaks, and the Autobiography of George Muller (not my favorite read literarily, but the story has challenged me over and over again). Actually – reading anything about the missionaries of the past inspires and encourages me…because they gave all in radical ways.
That’s just a few to get you started! Why bother? David makes an interesting statement in vs. 6 of Psalm 101. He says, “My eyes will be on the faithful in the land that they may dwell with me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me.” David made a choice—in fact, he covenanted with God—that he would set his eyes on those who had been and/or were faithful. It wasn’t enough that he decided to do what was right for himself (see the previous 5 verses and how EVERY line is a commitment, an “I will” or “I will not”, showing his choice to live in obedience and faithfulness to God). David knew that he needed to go farther than just his own resolution to give all to God; he needed inspiration. He committed that he would surround himself with others who had lived radical lives of obedience, giving ALL to God. THEY were the ones that would minister to him, inspire him, convict him, teach him… He knew he couldn’t do it with out them.
Frankly, neither can you and I. We too need to make a choice to set before our eyes those who have been faithful. We need to surround ourselves with the stories of those who have set aside normalcy for obedience—because God is calling us to something more. Be inspired…you and I weren’t created for normal; why would we expect to be satisfied with it? Let’s give up our “normal” and sell all that we have that we might get the real treasure.
“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.” Matthew 13:44
 John 6:60-69
 Matthew 13:44
 Luke 14:26, Matthew 19:29
 Mark 10:17-27
 Matthew 16:24