I ran into an old high school friend who I hadn’t seen in 20 years. We reminisced about another mutual friend, Mike, who died far too young.
We talked about how everything seemed easy for Mike: getting great grades, learning music, wrestling, socializing, and even getting into the Air Force Academy. It turns out we both felt a bit jealous of him even though the three of us were pretty close.
Looking back I realize that it wasn’t that things were easy for Mike, he just approached things differently than most people. Mike aimed well above normal or average in everything that he did, and as such his accomplishments reflected that. My friend and I both agreed that Mike had great things to offer this world.
So, where do we aim in life? Are we content with just being people who get by, live and let live, or do we try to leave the world a little better than we found it? These statements represent the average; they train us to aim for attainable goals so that we won’t have to face disappointment in life and can feel we have done something.
Jesus challenged the world to do something so hard that most people avoided it like it was the plague. He said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:34-35 NIV).
Jesus came into this world because of His love for it and His desire to bring life to anyone who would receive it. This is the gospel message—the good news for the world—that Jesus is the Christ, and by His death and resurrection we can receive eternal life and also know hope and joy right here in this world.
By truly following Jesus we are assigned the task of saving the world, of sharing the gospel message but more importantly, of sharing it out of love and in service to others. This is hard. It means crucifying all of our carnal desires that gratify us and instead embracing the Christlike desire to live for others’ sakes.
God created every person, and He created you with great detail and potential to reflect His image back into creation. Doing hard things is…well…hard, but it is the only way we will ever really make a difference in this world or really live our lives to the fullest.
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you came from, or what you have done; God desires great things for you and from you. Please know that there is no other entity that has more faith in your potential than God—He made you and He knows what you are capable of doing as long as you are willing to do the hard thing and let Him fill you and show you.
It’s time that many of us stopped making excuses. It’s time we stepped up and said, “Here am I Lord, send me.” It’s time to do hard things because we want to make a real impact.
I remember taking a shortcut back to the gym during our wrestling runs in high school. I remember how many of the guys on the team joined me as we shaved a mile off the run. I remember Mike just shaking his head at me and running the full distance. It’s no wonder he excelled; he did the hard thing for the sake of a great goal and he didn’t compromise—neither should we.
To find out more about La Vista Church, or to hear this and other messages, visit our website at www.lavistanaz.org or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please come join us as we fix our eyes on Jesus. We meet at 9 a.m. Sundays for Sunday school and at 10 a.m. for worship. Everyone is welcome!