When Asked to Give

It can be difficult to understand the direction in which God is leading us.  Sure, we can often discern a general direction for our lives, but it’s usually the day-to-day stuff that we can struggle with.  It just seems it would be so much easier if He just called down to us like He did with Elijah or the apostles and just tell us what to do.  I think part of the reason He doesn't is so we are drawn to spending time with Him and seeking His still, small voice for direction (1 Kings 19).

Last August, I received a text message that a brother in Christ had a heart attack and was in the hospital.  I wasn't in the habit of visiting people in the hospital, but felt drawn to do. Was it the Holy Spirit prompting me?  I wasn't sure, so I went.  That hospital visit was good, though it lasted far longer than I had anticipated.  It resulted in my being two hours late in taking my mother to the market, as was originally planned.  Through that rescheduled day, I met a friend at the entrance to the marketplace.  We hadn't spoken to one another in several years, so I told him what Christ had done in my life recently.  After a brief conversation, we parted ways.

Returning home from the market, I received a call from another friend I had also been out of touch with for a while.  He came by to swim a bit, and when I mentioned the gentleman I met at the market, I was informed he had kidney disease. He hadn't mentioned it to me in our conversation at the market, and I had been too long out of touch to have known myself.  Later that day I called him and confirmed what I had been told. As soon as I hung up the phone, Christ put a strong conviction on my heart that I was to give him a kidney.  I found it overwhelming to think that the Lord would want to use me in this way.  The thought that concerned me was if I was truly hearing from the Lord, or was it just me?  But after a couple of days of prayer and research on the subject, I was even more convinced God was asking this of me.  I also had a conviction that there’s no turning back on anything Christ asks us to do once we've give our lives to Him.

There’s an unexplainable calm and steadyness that comes along with following the Lord’s leading in any circumstance (Matthew 11:29).  Once you understand it’s God who is directing and in control, nothing will turn you from the course ahead.  Timetables may shift, day-to-day tasks may change, but there is a steady determination that Christ will lead, and lead well, as long as you continue to follow (John 8:12).

Five months of testing turned into what was starting to look like months of waiting.  I was already looking into something else I believed the Lord might be leading us into when the phone call came for the donation time.  I was originally told I would be given a good month’s notice before the actual operation.  On the phone they asked if I could be ready in ten days.  After six months of testing and anticipating, how could I say no to that?

I had been studying on prayer that week, focusing on how Jesus prayed, and I had come to where Jesus prayed in the garden before His trial and crucifixion in Mark 14:32-36.

"Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”  And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed.  Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.”  He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.
And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You.  Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.

I would never compare any stress or suffering I go through to what Christ did for me.  There is no comparison, and I believe none of us will ever in this life fully understand the extent of distress Jesus faced.  But I found it extremely comforting that in my study, the Holy Spirit brought me to this just before receiving the call to surgery for the kidney donation.  A greater blessing I could not have imagined.  To see how Jesus, in all His stress, was leaning into and resting in the knowledge that He was unconditionally submitted to doing the will of the Father above all else, gave me a focus that I believe was why I never felt any fear or concern or distress heading into the hospital or waiting to enter surgery. Never having been in surgery before, I had no knowledge to draw on.  So I kept my imagination from trying to form any ideas of what it might be like by simply trusting that the Lord would take care of what was needed, and I was in His hands as always.  Jesus said it clearly, “Father, all things are possible for You.”  There is nothing the Father cannot do.  The path that He had placed me on was of His choosing, and I had no need to worry about where that path would lead.

I find such great comfort in knowing that God has everything in control, no matter what it looks like from our side of things.  I used to stress over everything in my life, as though everything depended entirely on what I did or didn't do, and how did I know if I was doing the right things?  Jesus freed me from last year when I heard His teaching clearly, as though for the first time.

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?
Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek.
For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.   Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.   Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:25-34

Jesus reminded me that my Father knows what I need.  And it goes deeper than just physical day to day needs like food and clothing.  Jesus was just scratching the surface, which is where most people are thinking.  The Father knows of EVERYTHING we need, physically, mentally, spiritually, the whole picture.  In His love for us, He knows us SO MUCH more than we even know ourselves.  And He cares for us.  The Creator who knows me inside and out, and knit me together exactly how He wanted me to be (Psalm 139), has an everlasting love that I cannot even fathom!

“The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3

To fully trust in Him for everything has no hint of fear with it.  He does all things perfectly, because He can do all thing, just as Jesus said, “all things are possible for You.”  And all that God does is right and good (Psalm 100:5, 119:68, ).  Even the struggles, trials, and testings He brings us into and through are for good (1 Peter 1:6-7, Job 23:10, Romans 8:28).  Maybe for us, maybe for others, maybe both.  We are rarely provided that insight.

The bottom line is that it’s not about what I want, or what I do or don’t like, or think I need.  When Jesus says, “Follow Me”, it comes with no conditions attached, no restrictions on what He may lead us through.  He calls for our lives, not just a part of us, or some time out of the week, but ALL of us.  He wants our lives to be handed over to Him, pink slip and all.  It’s all for Christ and what He wants for our lives, whatever that looks like.  Whatever that is, bring it on!  I know He’ll take care of me now and forever.  The end goal is the ultimate hangout, eternity in heaven, when I get to shake off this body of sin and can be with Christ and FULLY worship Him without the distractions of this world.