As an athlete growing up, it wasn’t uncommon for me to make many sacrifices to play the sport I loved.  Missing my junior prom, spring break trips, school functions, and many weekends with friends were just a few of the sacrifices I made in order to be committed to achieving a high level of success in volleyball.  While my classmates were getting dressed up for dances or taking group pictures on the beaches in Florida and Mexico, I was traveling to some volleyball tournament or driving an hour for practice.  In fact, as I reminisce about my high school days, those sacrifices paled in comparison to the ultimate goal of earning a college scholarship. 

As I reflect on the decisions I’ve made to play at a high level, the question that comes to mind is, “How do I show my commitment to Christ?” “What am I willing to sacrifice in order to follow Him?”  Let’s be honest. College volleyball was great and all. I had a tremendous experience of which I am truly grateful. But college volleyball didn’t die for me or save my life.  And if I can eagerly make those sacrifices for the sport I loved, then I can and will make the sacrifices needed for the Jesus I love. He made it very clear about what His disciples needed to do in order to follow Him.  Matthew 16:24 says, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” There you have it, folks!  We must deny ourselves and take up our cross! 

Denying ourselves really means laying down our desires, attitudes, routines, plans, and selfishness that can get in the way of following Him. Denying myself is hard. Staying committed isn’t always easy.  Crucifying my flesh to the cross can be painful at times. There are many instances I want to lash out at someone but choose to bite my tongue, panic instead of having faith and trusting God will work out my situation, or hold grudges and be unforgiving when someone hurt me when I know God has called me to show grace and mercy. But if my ultimate goal is to follow Jesus and let His kingdom reign and rule in my life, then I need to do what’s necessary to fulfill that commitment like I did when I was playing volleyball. 

For the most part, none of us are strangers to sacrifice to honor a commitment we have made.  We show our commitment to our jobs and employers by waking up early and getting to work on time; we choose to not buy a pair of shoes because we’re saving up for an amazing trip with our families or friends; we pass on dessert because we want to lose weight and get healthier. We know how to do it! Our commitment to Christ should be no different. As we honor our commitment to Him and fulfill the will of God in our lives, that’s when we see our lives transform. We see the power of God working through us; we see prayers being answered before our very eyes; we experience greater peace and faith all because we stayed the course, remained committed to the goal, and denied ourselves of fleshly desires that tried to pull us away from the vision.

The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:12, “If we suffer, we will reign with Him.” That’s an amazing promise! So, as we embark on a journey towards living for Christ and being committed to following His word and example, making sacrifices and denying ourselves, and taking up our cross and crucifying our flesh by choosing a higher way of living, that’s when we will share in His glory and achieve our destiny.

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