It’s a strange concept if you’ve never heard of it before. Living your life ‘abandoned’ to someone else, especially someone you cannot physically see or may not know very well. Growing up, I never really understood this concept, and found it hard to articulate what it really meant in my mind, or what it even looked like practically. What does living your life abandoned really look like? And how does that differ when you live it abandoned for Christ? Now, I’m no expert on this; I’m no scholar, have no Bachelor on the Bible or even understand this concept to its fullest. All I know is what I’ve experienced, what I have learnt and the insights God has shown me along the way.
WHAT DOES LIVING YOUR LIFE ABANDONED LOOK LIKE?
I think the best way to start this off would be to define what abandoned is. The English translation defines the word ‘abandon’ as to give up completely (a practice or a course of action), however if you look at the Ancient Greek translation (which if you’ve watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding you know that all words come from a Greek word..lol), it defines abandon as egkataleipó: to leave behind. Both of these definitions really point to the same thing, to abandon one-self would be to (in essence) leave yourself behind, or to give yourself up completely. Now, this sounds really weird and not really possible. How can you leave yourself behind or give yourself up? Funnily enough, in varying capacities, everyone has either done it or experienced it. Finally getting your dream job and devoting every waking minute to working, learning and moulding yourself into the perfect employee. Or, getting a new partner and fixating all of your attention on them that nothing else in the world seems to matter, making sure that no matter what they come first, always wanting to please them. Though these are simple (and not necessarily harmful actions), they show that in our everyday lives, we can abandon ourselves for the sake of another, or something. Abandoning one-self looks like ‘It’s not about me, it’s about you’, it’s about my job, or my boyfriend, my fitness or my family, my financial status, etc…the list could go on. But where does that leave you? Does giving yourself up in that capacity make you happy at the end of the day? It honestly might, but how sustainable is it for the long-term?
I think we all know someone (even if it’s ourselves) who has been through the above. Who has totally abandoned themselves to their job or their parter, and somehow it didn’t end well. The got so burnt out, frustrated with their lives and forgot who ‘they’ were that they had to call it quits. It’s one of those ‘Wait…what am I doing? This isn’t me’ moments when you realised you’ve abandoned yourself to whatever it was.
Now how does this differ to abandoning yourself to Christ? Wouldn’t it be the same concept and some outcome? Well, in my experience it’s actually the complete opposite. In the Bible in Luke 9:23-37 (the Message version), Jesus speaks about what abandonment to Him looks like. Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.”
WHAT DOES LIVING YOUR LIFE ABANDONED TO CHRIST LOOK LIKE?
Well, just like the above says, it looks like letting God lead. For me, this has been extremely difficult in different seasons because I am a bit of a control freak. Not in a bad way, I just like things getting done the way I envisage them and in the way I like to work. I’m a ‘To-Do’ list kind of gal, and really enjoy structure, methodical steps and knowing where I’m going. My boyfriend sent me a funny meme that really describes the kind of person I am. It said “I’m not a ride or die chick. I have questions…Where are we riding to? Why do I have to die? Can we stop to get food? Why didn’t you like my pic?” Essentially, I NEED to know why we are doing things, what’s the rational behind it, and what you expect the outcome will be (so I can assess if it’s worth it or not for me). Well, unlucky for me, God doesn’t really work that way, He’s a ride or die kind dude. He is a man of details, but wont necessarily share those details with you. I say, ‘unlucky’ for me because in everyday life, something like that would absolutely stress the crap about of me and I would want to internally combust, but when I learnt to live abandoned to Christ, it lifted this humongous weight off my shoulders, because I wasn’t in control anymore.
It all started in mid 2011. I was doing my own thing, volunteering at church in High Schools doing programs and being awesome, and one day God prompted me (through my great friend Pete) to Intern at church. My first response internally, and probably externally, was to laugh. I had my life planned out, I was going to finish my degree, get a job in Marketing and rake in some serious cash-money; but God was nudging me into a different direction. So in that moment, God told me to Intern at my church, and that’s all I heard. I prayed about it for weeks, hearing nothing else from God. I don’t know what I was expecting him to say, but in my rational mind, I wanted him to explain to me the benefits of me interning, what he was going to do with my life after interning, and all those details that I crave as a rationally-minded person. But, I got nothing. So I decided to go against everything I knew as being Marissa, and to just go for it. It was one of those ‘Oh, screw it’ moments, when I just decided to give it a go, because God told me to. That lead me to one of the best years of my whole life. Not just spiritually, because I grew so much, but in learning to trust the voice of God. Trusting that one voice of God that said “I want you to intern at church” and then realising that I didn’t have to know anything more then that, was a massive relief. He literally planned everything else out for me, and all I had to do was step out, abandon myself to His call, and let everything else fall where He planned it to. From then, I continually learnt to trust His call and to stay abandoned to Him. In another version of the scripture above, Jesus adds the world ‘daily’ into his ‘You must let me lead’ part. I cannot stress this enough how important I learnt abandoning yourself daily to Christ is. When I’m having crappy seasons when it feels like I’m striving or pushing in my own strength, God reminds me again..abandon yourself, your ambitions and your plans to me, because it’s only me who will make them great.
And again, in late 2012, I heard Gods voice so clearly. I was walking back home from the train station, and I was praying and talking to God. I remember saying something like “God, I would do anything for you” and I heard Him say so clearly, “Would you go anywhere fore me? If I took you half way across the globe, would you go there for me?” and my only response was “Yes”. And thats when He told me to move to London. That’s literally all He said about the matter, I didn’t know what it was going to look like, or where I was going to live, work or what I was even going to do. I just knew He told me to go, so I went. Living life abandoned to Christ (to me) is rationally irrational. It make absolutely no sense what-so-ever, but at the same time transcends even logic itself and makes the most sense. For anyone who has ever experienced the call of God before, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Living a life abandoned to Christ says, “It’s not about me, it’s about you” but in the best way possible. When we give our lives up to Christ as a sacrifice and we leave behind ourselves, that is where true fulfilment, peace, joy and rest are found. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to do life in my own strength, in my own capabilities and with my own ideas, but I always come back to the same place..empty, frustrated and exhausted. But God, in His love, always reminds me of this verse Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV translation) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Our lives aren’t meant to be weary and burdensome, they are meant to be light and free. I can say that I know where you can get true joy and freedom for your souls, because it’s in Jesus. I’ve experienced it too many times to deny that it’s only when I live my life abandoned to Him that everything that I knew that I ever wanted and needed (and abundantly more) has been given to me. It’s like that Hillsong song, ‘Touch the Sky’ says:
I found my life when I laid it down
Upward falling, spirit soaring
I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground
The world says that to find true joy and fulfilment we need to strive for more, to be better and never stop. But Jesus says true joy and fulfilment are found when you give yourselves over to Him. His plans for us are SO MUCH better then the ones we have for ourselves. Living life abandoned to Christ means truely letting God take the reigns and mould you, steer you and coach you into the person He has created you to be.
xx TB (sponsored by Jesus, because He’s awesome)