“But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign LORD; in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death (Psalm 141:8).”
Choice. It’s the American mantra. When I returned to America last year after some years abroad, I was overwhelmed by the amount of choices I was offered in coffee shops, restaurants, and other places.
George Beverly Shea made a choice. He could have had a nice career singing secular music, but he didn’t feel comfortable doing so. One day he found a poem by Rhea F. Miller on the family piano. His mother had left it there, hoping to influence his life. She did — big time!
Shea was so impressed by the words to this poem that he sat down and composed music to it. Soon after, he sang the song in church. “I’d Rather Have Jesus Than Anything” is one of many popular songs Shea has gone on to record in his long singing ministry.
Too many of us make the wrong choice in our Christian lives. When we are offered Jesus, we choose something else instead. It’s easy to do in American society. We are subject to many temptations: money, houses, cars, jobs, power, prestige, fame.
Why do we choose one of these things, or some other offer, over Jesus? It’s because once we find out that His path involves suffering, we bail. We didn’t sign up for suffering. However, Jesus leads a brotherhood of sufferers. He was the first of His followers to suffer, dying for us so that we could live (Hebrews 2:10-12). He calls us to do the same. We may have eternal life, but we do have to die to self (Luke 9:22-24).
I didn’t quite get that message when I was a young Christian. I didn’t even know Jesus wanted to run my life until after I had accepted His offer of salvation. When I found out, at a Christian conference, I was angry. I drove home in a stew.
It has been pretty much a battle for control between me and Jesus ever since. The older I get, the more I realize that the way of Jesus is the way of the cross. I don’t quite get the whys and wherefores, other than it has something to do with preparing me for eternity.
Although I haven’t really bailed out when Jesus has taken me down a rough road, I have dealt with the pain of it all through other means than running to Him for mercy and grace. Now I find myself in difficult circumstances again; but this time around I am absolutely determined I am going through it hand-in-hand with Jesus and try to learn what it is He wants to teach me.
What choice do I have? Following Jesus is not optional. After all, He is the way, the truth and the life.
I am not a masochist; I don’t have some warped taste for suffering. But I have to trust that as He received glory and honor through His own suffering, I will too eventually (Hebrews 2:8,9).
“I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand
Than to be the king of a vast domain,
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.
I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy name.”