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Why we need to abandon everything

It’s so hard to see, much less get rid of, all the things that have taken up space in our hearts – space that God himself wants to fill. We may sense, but often can’t see the way various attachments crowd out the abundant life that God wants to give us. That car you take such good care of may, …
By Seth Barnes
It’s so hard to see, much less get rid of, all the things that have taken up space in our hearts – space that God
himself wants to fill. We may sense, but often can’t see the way various
attachments crowd out the abundant life that God wants to give us. That car you take such good care of may, in a way, keep you from sponsoring an orphan through World Vision.
 
And you may feel a vague angst about your life without even connecting the dots – you sense something is off, but don’t know what. The angst may be immobilizing, incapacitating even. And without knowing what to do, all you may sense is, “I need to make a change.”
 

Abandon is the process of taking our hands
off of those things that we have clutched to our breast. It is a process
that involves turning away from them and renouncing rights to them. It
is an emptying that clears away emotional space for new attachments.

Because
we in America have so many things cluttering our lives, it’s hard to
know what keeps us connected to the identity we present to the world – our false self. The obvious things are
clear enough: the addictions, the broken relationships, the stuff that
fills our garage. But behind all that is no less an array of attachments
that may keep us locked down in a spiritual or emotional prison that we can’t see.

Attitudes
and habits are often invisible to the person who owns them. You may
laugh at Debbie Downer on Youtube, but be the last one to see how your
wet-blanket comments keep people at arms length. Your cynicism may win
you other cynical friends, but prevent you from getting to a place of
intimacy with them.

Perhaps the most invisible of
attachments, those most difficult to perceive, are those that are
culturally defined. If all your friends are spending their evenings on
the computer, for example, you may not see the way in which it limits
your emotional range. Leave your own culture behind and you may be
amazed at the things you thought you needed but really don’t. It may
blow your mind when you visit Mozambique to see that when the mothers run out
of milk for their babies, they pass them on to their friends to
breastfeed. You may find yourself charmed by the simplicity of life in
many other countries. You may wonder about the choices you made that got
you to such a dissatisfyingly complex lifestyle before you left.

And
because we may have so many things crowding out the life of God
and creating room for the false self in our lives, it’s better that we
not try to piecemeal the process of abandon. It’s better to do what
Jesus asked of those candidating to be his disciples – leave everything
and do it now. Total abandon requires the leaving of places and
relationships. It requires the quitting of commitments, some potentially
good. And because it requires leaving, a journey is required.

To
onlookers, inevitably this will look reckless. And when what you find
on the journey is pain, it may look downright dumb. But suppose that in fact you may be unable
to see all the things that have you locked into an identity that is false, one based on posing. Let’s further suppose that you are committed to discovering who God intended you to be and what
he made you to do. If in fact these are true, then this process of reckless abandon that takes you on a
journey away from home and comfort may be the smartest, bravest thing you ever do.
 
Yes, you may meet sickness, robbers, and random misfortune
along the way. That’s the price of going along a narrow path that has
just one safety net – God himself. But as you set your feet on that path, you commit to finding your true self and to a life defined by faith. You
commit yourself to living a life where your life’s priorities match God’s.

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