Do you struggle with being dissatisfied? Are you easily disappointed with what you have (and don’t have) and where you are in life because your expectations don’t match your reality?
At times I am, and I hate it. I hate it because I know better, because I want to think and act better. Wrestling with God about this one morning, I believe He spoke some profound words:
“Make yourself nothing and you’ll live with nothing to lose.”
The moment I heard them, I knew they were weighty words. While I couldn’t fully grasp them, and even thought how bizarre and potentially offensive they sounded, there was a sense deep inside me that great freedom was to be found in believing them, in living by them.
“Make yourself nothing.” I may have discarded the words if I hadn’t realized they were written in Scripture — specifically, in a passage describing Jesus:
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, BUT MADE HIMSELF NOTHING, taking on the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:5-7a).
God was only asking me to do exactly what Jesus did — and Jesus is God!
Making ourselves nothing is potentially the most difficult thing for us to do. We come out of the womb driven to have our needs and wants met. Even those of us committed to following Jesus must constantly surrender to God’s will — and to it being brought about in His time and His ways. I usually follow God initially with great conviction and excitement, but find I can quickly become disappointed and dissatisfied with the journey. I’m often that child in the backseat of the van asking, “Are we there yet?” Like that child, I know my Parent will get me there — I just want to be there now.
What if, while still believing God for all He has promised, we let go of our preconceived timeframes and expectations of what we’ll receive and do along the way? What if we simply enjoy the ride, even if it includes suffering or something we’d rather avoid? Can we let go of what we want and the timeframe within which we want it?
What if in this most basic example we discover what it means to make ourselves nothing, to enter into each new day with one of the most freeing attitudes we can have: Lord, it doesn’t matter what happens along the way as long as my life is lived for and shines with Your glory.
When we live like this, we have nothing to lose because we finally acknowledge that only God can determine what is for our gain and what will bring Him the most glory. We just aren’t capable of doing this on our own. The route we take, what we do and receive along the way, even how long it takes — it’s all left entirely up to Him. With such an attitude, everything becomes a gift. We’ll begin to see beauty in the mundane. We’ll appreciate and be thankful for duties, opportunities, people and places that we once looked upon as an annoyance or burden. We’ll start to marvel at what God uses to do His work in us. We’ll see a delayed answer for what it truly is — the good and perfect will of God working things for our good and His glory.
Think about this: If we have nothing to lose, that also means we have everything to gain!
We’ll also get a proper view of ourselves. Jesus “didn’t consider equality with God something to be grasped.” At first thought, I would say I don’t either. But do I? Do we? Do we want equal input into what we should have, when we should have it and even how our day should go? Is that not putting ourselves on equal footing with God?
Rather, by adopting an attitude of humility, we’ll find that it’s God alone who satisfies, and that He is all-satisfying. When we let go of all we think we have to have, we’ll discover, even in the smallest of ways, that He is what our heart truly longs for. We will discover for ourselves that living for His glory is the fulfilling purpose for which we were made.
In making ourselves nothing, we are free to pray: Father, orchestrate the events of today so that through all that happens, maximum glory is brought to you.
This most freeing truth must be fought for. In this, I’m so thankful for the prophets and psalmists of the Bible, as well as the songwriters, artists and authors who’ve wrestled through the same thoughts and leading of God. I’m thankful I can sing their songs and quote their words, even (and especially) when my heart wants to believe otherwise:
This morning I’m singing and quoting “Lay Me Down” by Chris Tomlin:
“I lay me down. I’m not my own. I belong to You alone. I lay me down. I lay me down. Letting go of my pride, giving up all my rights, take this life and let it shine.”
I am particularly thankful for Jesus, who in making Himself nothing and suffering in ways He didn’t want to, made it possible for you and me to live for God and His glory. He made it possible for us to one day stand fully glorified before God. Now that’s something worth living for!
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