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Chapter 4 (excerpt) The Pursuit - Mozambique
"The bananas hanging in the tree above me were almost ripe enough to eat. “Who gets to lay in a hammock under banana trees in Africa?” I wondered. I felt so spoiled because it seemed so exotic, but I quickly remembered that daily life for those living just over the wall from where I was laying was a nearly impossible situation. I thought deeply about all of the things I had been learning and began sculpting a letter to my friends and family back home.
Beautiful Ones, God wants me dead, and He won't stop until He kills me. I'm half dead, but completely alive. Relentlessly, He pursues me, and day by day He asks me to surrender the things that matter most to me. There is a cost to following Him; it isn't free. Yes, His love is free and nothing can ever change that, but Jesus says to follow Him, and there is a precious cost to that. He asks us to lay down EVERYTHING and follow him; He doesn't want a tithe of our faith, He wants our full YES without ever looking back. Surrendering is the process of dying to ourselves. We surrender so we can have more of Jesus because in Him is joy and the fullness of life, and who wouldn’t want that? However, when we die to our desires, our passions, and our pursuits, we do not stay dead.
"God wants to kill us so He can kiss us back to life"
are the words Mama Heidi will often say to us. God cannot use us in fullness until we die. Jesus died so that we can truly live. We die to ourselves so He can live in us and through us. Daily, I choose to surrender. Daily, I choose die to myself. Daily, I find that I am more alive than I was yesterday. I've been on a journey of dying. I sometimes struggle because I think "Is it really worth it? Can't I just, you know, believe in Jesus and call it a day? Dying to myself is hard, and I like my life as it is, thanks" however, I'm finding that the more in love I am with Jesus, the more my heart screams “yes!” to whatever He asks of me. My life is not my own. I am created to be in relationship with Him. To let you all into my world a little more closely, I want to share something personal with you. Jesus, in His pursuit of me, showed me His face. Yes, His face. Like as clear as I can see you. I saw His burning eyes of love, and I melted into a puddle of death and life. It's an encounter that is impossible to forget, and I don't ever want to. Once you see His face you cannot help but give all of your life away to Him. He is so worthy! I've given Him my hopes and dreams for my future, and I am letting Him rebuild them the way He wants. The things I once was certain about I no longer rely on because I do not want to go through life with a check list.
Career - check Married - check 2.5 kids - check Retirement plan - check Check, check, check......
Once my checklist is complete, will I really be satisfied? No. Then what will I do? The truthful answer? I will physically die and possibly never step into the very things God has destined for my life because I never said ‘yes’.
My check list looks like this: Obey Jesus - check
I die so my passions can be rebuilt. I die so I can step into destiny. I die so I can truly live. Beloved ones, the same goes for you. He calls you to seek His face, and to die to yourself so He can use you.
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? - Jesus (Luke 9:23-25 NKJV)
Friends, He's not harsh, He's just looking for your ‘yes’. A simple yes can change your life forever.
A ‘yes’ looks like surrender. If God called you to leave your job would you say yes? If He asked you to end a relationship, would you trust Him? If He told you to serve Him in Hungary, Moldova, Mozambique, or across the street, would you go?
In your yes you die. In your yes you receive more of Jesus. In your yes He can truly use you. What does your yes look like?
Ask Him. In pursuit of Him, Shanna
I re-read the scribbled cursive on my journal pages and realized that I had written “half-dead” in the opening paragraph. I was so free and felt so dead to myself, but the reality was that I still had quite a lot more dying to do."
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