Over the past several months, I’ve hiked more than I have in my entire life. Some hikes were easy…some were difficult…and a couple of times, I found myself wondering, “Is it really the best idea to continue on here? The path ahead looks a bit difficult.” I find myself asking that last question more often these days. Do I want to continue on this path I always have been on, or is it time for a new path?
The past couple of blogs (Part I and Part II) have recounted some of the shifts I’ve experienced during my sabbatical. Each moment we choose whether to continue down the path we are on or choose some other way.
The culture happily suggests guidance and direction on what path to take. Riches, fame, and power are seen as the epitome of the good life. As I observe those with wealth, power, and celebrity, I can’t help but wonder, “Are they really happy? I honestly get the sense that they are not.
The striving to maintain their position ends in destruction and even death. From the outside, it looks like they are striving for something and aren’t even sure what it is. Once they get what they thought they wanted, they are just as empty as before. True peace lies just outside their reach.
When I look at those throughout history who have chosen a much different path of fully pursuing Jesus, I see peace, love, joy, compassion, and somewhat effortless life. Effortless in the sense of not striving and straining for something to provide contentment. Instead, they have peace and joy in Jesus!
The path they take differs from the cultural path, making their values different and their view of vice different. Their focus is reflected in their daily choices. The choices they made are foreign to what I’m used to, making change difficult. Jesus said it himself, those who follow him must die, and they must die to many cultural assumptions. While Jesus said this differently, the reality is, in order to follow him, I must reassess my assumptions, values, and choices daily.
The Challenge of Change
The question that haunts me as I seriously think about the changes I must make to follow Jesus.
Do I REALLY want to follow Jesus’ pathway? It seems challenging to let go of my self-focused life and live differently. Why not just be “who I am” and let the world (friends, family, etc.) deal with it?
If you identify with the above question, you might want to look at Jesus’ quote again.
34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”Mark 8:34-38
The more we hang on, the more we lose. Jesus offers much more than we know. We tend to hang on to the “less than” when Jesus offers us “more than” we could ever hope or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)!
While I believe I have found ways to limit the more unseemly qualities of my Enneagram Type, Jesus calls me not to find ways around these qualities but to be made more like Jesus. He calls me to healing, wholeness, and abundant life. In order to have those qualities, I must die to what I’ve known for most of my life.
Not Funny “Ha Ha”
So, a funny thing happened on my way back from my sabbatical, Jesus reminded me of his call, his love, and the blessings he wants to pour into me. I must be willing to let go of what I am and have, so I can receive what God desires to give. Will it be worth it? I know it will be. However, knowing it will be worth it doesn’t change my reluctance. I guess it’s a work in progress, or rather, I’m a work in progress.
The goal of knowing ourselves through a tool like the Enneagram isn’t about knowing ourselves. Instead, knowing ourselves is so that we might find a pathway to transformation and becoming more like Jesus. We all have to make this choice, as difficult as it is.
Like most everything in life, I had no idea what to expect from this sabbatical. I knew I would do things I had never done before. I didn’t expect to be reminded of who I was, who God was, and Jesus’ call to die to myself, take up my cross, and follow him so that I might receive the Life he calls me to.
I guess I’m embarking on this journey. You are welcome to come along if you are willing to let go, die to yourself, and move forward in God’s love and life.
If you want to know more about the Enneagram, or if I can be helpful, let me know! May your journey be transformed through Jesus.