Friday, August 8, 2014

Dorothy's Mexican Cup

Today my Grandma Dorothy would have celebrated her 97th year on Earth. 
She is still teaching me new things even after she finally went home last January. 
After one of our more recent revelations, my husband Stephen and I decided to thoroughly go through our possessions and begin minimizing.
We started with our clothes.
Isn't it funny the rationalizations we make to hang on to a piece of fabric? 
"I'll wear this again… someday" -even though we said the same thing last year
"I'm just saving it for when I grow into it" -even though we know we never will

I think my biggest problem with getting rid of old clothes is that it makes my closet look so EMPTY. I start to feel like I don't have anything to wear so I go out and buy more that I don't really need.

But it doesn't stop in our closets, does it?
Couldn't we say the same for the rest of our homes?
We tend to think that the problem is being unsatisfied with simplicity which is true, but the bigger problem is that we give ourselves excess space and then become unsatisfied with vacancy.

We are taught to fill.

Fill our houses.
Fill our free-time.
Fill our minds.

It is hard for our generation… and probably the world… to be un-filled.

We cringe in silence and put our headphones in.
We get antsy when alone (and even when we aren't) and check our feeds.
We instantly seek artificial modes of capturing awe instead of being in the moment.
We see an empty shelf not as room to spread out but room to stuff in.

We find comfort in staying so busy, because sometimes the silence, the lonely times, the awe inspiring kodak moments, and the empty shelves require something from us.

They require us to reflect.

And sometimes looking at our reflection is the scariest part of all.
We know that someday when all is stripped away and our life ends, we will suddenly come face to face with our Creator. Now, if our treasures are based on the temporary fillers that this world offers then eventually we will be extremely and desperately let down and facing our extremely evidently existant God in absolute terror. However, when we store up our treasures in heaven, we can recognize that although the things of this world will come and go, that God and eternal life through Jesus Christ is not only dependable, but something worth living our earthly time for.
When we have that assurance, we no longer have fear.

So back to Grandma.
She was a filler. Nothing TLC "Hoarders: Buried Alive" worthy, but a stuffer all the same. My dad is that way too, and I fight it in myself. The things we collected weren't always obsessive or worthless, actually much more of the opposite. 
You see, Grams grew up during the great depression and was therefore taught not to waste ANYTHING and that EVERYTHING could be used again. From washing baggies and saving jars to having three back up toasters and every other household item—she saw great potential in every item.
In reality however, her possessions only held her back. She created a beautiful safety net around her, one the “American Dream” would be proud of.
But that safety net was the same thing to cause a lot of strife and stress in the years to come. 

I know this, because I was there.

Three years before she passed away I was given the immense pleasure of living with her while I was attending a local community college. She gave me some of the best years of my life. Her 9.5 decades of faith, wisdom, wit, and humor will always be something I treasure. I supported her as she began losing her eyesight and bits of her memory, and watched as her three-story home slowly became a snarled maze of frustration. Every cupboard, every drawer, and every shelf was bursting with mostly organized treasures. I swear she could feel her way around the house to pinpoint a paperclip from 1976 if she needed to. Her possessions, though hardly used, were comforting landmarks for her withered hands. Her "things" gave her responsibility and importance and assured her of her full life. But every once in a while, we would find a hole in the safety net. 
A missing paper. 
A new item without a home, thus becoming a wheelchair obstacle. 
The slightly moved mexican cup.

At the time we had a live-in caretaker to clean and cook. She was great, but she had one flaw. Though our family cringed at Grams clutter, we knew it best to never make radical changes without her permission. The caretaker, however, learned that the hard way.

She didn't think it was a big deal, but Grams did.

You see, there was this shelf on the side of the refrigerator. One with teas, spices, cups and things that were rarely used, but disorganized to say the least. She thought it would be okay to move the more frequently used items to the lower levels so that Grams— who already stood shakily and had a wonderfully stubborn "I can do it myself" personality— could reach them without assistance.
Bad idea.
I came home to a yelling match between the two of them over her precious cups. I remember bits and pieces… something about them being hand-blown… rare… expensive… from Mexico… but most importantly I remember how much she treasured them. She was furious that the caretaker had even TOUCHED those cups! 

Years went by and that memory was woven into the string of other similar instances, but only did I remember once she left us and our family stripped her walls bare of her belongings.
Some items were trash. Newspapers dating back 30-40 years. Sobe bottle caps. Aluminum cat food tins. Others had little sticky notes on the backs with names of family members for who she was saving that particular item for. But most were little treasures; paintings, jewelry, some antiques.
But oh man, when I stood before that little shelf, you wouldn’t believe how quickly scooped up those little mexican cups. I might have hissed and bared my teeth like Gollum holding his little ring if someone were to challenge my find. They were so special that I immediately wrapped them in paper and carefully put them in a box hidden in my garage.

And there they sat… for a year and a half… until we started to minimize.

After we had gone through our clothes, we started on the garage.

 Even though I was in the right mindset as Stephen and I began sorting through our garage and giving somewhat valuable things away on our street corner, as I reopened that box and looked at the mexican cups, my initial reaction was to close the box up again and stuff them back on their shelf.
And then it hit me.
I couldn't even remember why they were so precious. I didn't even know their full story. Their valuable story died with my grandma. It was her that had made them so precious. I looked around at my treasures and thought about the "things" that I was making into treasures and realized that when I die, they will just become "things" once again to everyone else. Almost like Cinderella’s carriage turning back into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight. I realized that the cups didn't have any markings to prove they were Mexican, hand-blown, or precious whatsoever. They were cylinders made by someone for someone else to drink things out of! Oh I wish I could hear that creator’s reaction to the fate of those cups.
"So you never even drank anything out of them?"
"You kept them on a shelf all of their life?"
"You went to all the trouble of bringing them back from Mexico… to never even use them?!"

And so the same can be said about these Mexican cups and our lives.
Our life is like the cup and God expectantly asks us to go ALL IN.

We have been given a gift. The gift is life.
We have also been given a choice. 

The shelf life: a safe and predictable, self-centered & self-improving lifestyle
All-in: Being used for what we were created for, taking great risks with great reward

Like a cup, we have a purpose. We were created to be filled and to pour out. Filled with his Love, humility, passion, and grace and in turn outpouring it into others.

I think most American Christians are plagued of living between the two lifestyles. Sure, we have accepted the Gift and we are trying to follow God's will, but we stuff things into our life so that we can’t possibly be completely filled with what God originally planned for us.
I have found that I can fit quite a lot in my little cup, which doesn't leave much room for God's living water.
And somehow in our minds we make that okay. I think a lot of it has to do with being an American, but even more so because of that internal justification that "everyone else is doing it." There are a lot of things that this world tells us to fill our cups with that take away space for God to move, and the truth is, most the time we are unaware that it is even in the way.

When we pray boldly, we can expect God to convict us of the wordily values we have that cause separation from Him.
Lately I have seen it in my own life as

I'm sure you struggle with some of these things too, and in the Bible we see that these things were already spoken of. 

2 Timothy 3:
 "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!"

that last verse hits hard. That is ME. Paul is telling those people to turn away from people like ME! Here I was thinking that I stand out from the rest, but as far as struggles go, I am learning that I am no different than the rest.
And that is why we depend so much on His Grace.

Titus 3:
  "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”

As I let God reveal these issues in my life, I have the option to let Him take over. Giving him the authority to give and take away my "stuff" that either promotes His grace or slanders it. Going all-in and letting God remove what hinders me from running the race He has marked out for me. Throwing aside everything that easily ensnares me and fixing my eyes on Jesus, "the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12)

For this is what will set me apart from the rest. 

The moment I die to myself, I let Christ live in me. And as we abide together, I can learn to walk in his beautiful way. As he begins filling me, and I in turn can overflow his riches into others. 
I don’t think this means that we all need to completely deny wordly desires and pleasures. I think that God wants us to enjoy the gifts of the Earth. But I also think that each of us have different things that easily become more important than God. In the “rich ruler” story, Jesus knew his heart and could see that his riches were the last thing that he held on to that were separating him from God. What are you holding on to?
I don’t think that God wants us to necessarily cut out all the good things He has given us. I think he simply wants us to stop trying to cram it into our little cups and instead let him hold them on the outside… in his hands. There He will keep our worldly desires in order for us and allow us to be completely filled with Him.

Authority Over My Life:

There are 3 reasons why I will always choose God over myself to plan my life:
1) He is Sovereign
2) He is Unchanging
3) He is Good

Lets break that down.

 Sovereignty means that God, as the ruler of the Universe, has the right to do whatever he wants. Further, he is in complete control over everything that happens. Choosing him over myself is easy when God has already Chosen Himself for me. I just need to choose to see it that way.

Proverbs 16:9 "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord determines their steps"
Psalm 115:3 "Our God is in the heavens, he does all that he pleases"
Psalm 18:30 "As for God his way is perfect, his word if flawless"
Romans 9:20 "But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'"
Daniel 4:35 "All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: 'What have you done?'"

I also choose God because he is unchanging. He keeps his promises that were written long before me. 

Numbers 23:19 "God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?"
Deuteronomy 7:9 "Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments."
Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever"

Not only is He in control and unchanging, but He is good.
Romans 8:28 "and we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose"
James 1:17 "everything good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father who created all the lights in heaven. He never changes"
Matthew 7:11 "the father in heaven gives good gifts who ask him"
Psalm 25:8 "Good and upright is the LORD"

Not only that but…

God can't get tired.
Isaiah 40:28 "Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary."

God can't abandon me.
Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, he is the one who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."

God can't stop thinking about me.
Psalm 139:17-18 "How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with you."

God can't stop loving me.
Jeremiah 31:3 "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."

All that being said, how could I ever choose someone besides God to have complete authority over my life?

Based on His character I choose to trust him. He will fill us as we draw near to Him. As we seek His will and study his word, as we talk with Him and trust in Him, He pours into us if we free ourselves of this world.
We can only see our little cup, but God sees everything.
Even our concept of God filling our cup is skewed.
I used to imagine it as a pitcher held above me waiting to be poured out…
But no,
God is an all-consuming flood of grace and love and he doesn't just ask us to take our little mexican cup down off our shelf, but to freaking chuck it into the depths of his lake. To be fully surrounded. Fully submerged. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The American Dream Is Keeping Us Asleep

We must start at the beginning. 
All to God's glory is this blog dedicated to. 
I am human. 
I make Mistakes. 
I am hypocritical. 
I am learning. 
I am loved.
As I delve deeper in love with my creator, I am challenged to live radically. My life begins with Christ's love and will end with it, so I start my writing in the same manner. In love He bases everything, and so may He convict me to do the same. I am just one person, but for the sake of others and the Lord I love, I can only hope to be used for His glory.

If you know me, you know that I have always promised myself that if I ever start living metronomly safe and uninspired that I would do whatever it took to make radical changes. For Jesus says, 

"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." 

It's an invitation. A choice.
A choice to either live life as: 

a long preparation for something that never happens///a gift to be USED.
fists clenched///hands open.
as if we are going to live forever///as if each day is the last.

I choose the latter.
Because in reality, it just might be.

Let us begin.


    I have come to realize that more than anything I don't want to live the American Dream. I want to live my life AWAKE! In my hunt to find the original meaning of the "American Dream" I also discovered its adaptations through the centuries. While it had started in the Declaration of Independence with good and freeing intentions to give Americans (despite race or social standing) an equal opportunity in "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness," it slowly adapted into a self-improving snowball of continual dissatisfaction. As the Governor of Virginia noted in 1774, the Americans "forever imagine the lands further off are still better than those upon which they are already settled." And that, "if they attained Paradise, they would move on if they heard of a better place farther west."
    In 1931 Historian James Truslow Adams popularized the phrase "American Dream" in his book Epic of America stating:
"…the American dream, that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement."
Equal opportunity, spiritual freedom, and a not-so-bad democracy system aren't the issue with the dream. But underlying it all, there is a subtle problem. The problem is that it is all about SELF.
Self-discipline to obtain Self-achievements.
When we live for the SELF, There is no room for dependency on God, therefore we will always come up short, and when we do, it completely Self-devastates us. 
    Why do we continually push ourselves to want more? From our career to our consumerism, its easy to point the blame to media and marketing, but the media can only get as far into our hearts as WE let it. And I am done letting the world tell me what I need. Because everything it has thrown at me is temporary filler until I realize that there is something newer and better to need. 
    I refuse to be a part of it. 
I choose instead to see how much MORE I can do with LESS. 
I choose to be satisfied with what I have and to choose to be satisfied with even less than that. 
I choose to LET GO OF MY LIFE to LET GOD do His will in me. 
For only He knows my true needs. So I will choose to trust that He will take care of those needs for me.

    When I was in Belize for my 3 month Discipleship Training School through Youth With A Mission (YWAM) I struggled with choosing to see God in complete control of my life. I clung tight to the good things I had worked for and I was terrified that if I fully submitted myself to God's plan for my life and asked Him if the things that I loved were a part of his will, that he would immediately take them away from me. Every part of me told me that I had "earned" them on my own and somehow had the unalienable right to keep making my own decisions-- mostly concerning my boyfriend at the time (who later became my husband). 
    Through my experience at school, God broke me down to see the beautiful mess I really was and helped me surgically remove the sins that ensnared my freedom in Christ. I had heard of others breaking off their relationships back home, and I couldn't even let my mind open to even ask God if my relationship and intentions with Stephen were according to His good and perfect will for my life. As a result I gave portions to God that were undemanding of risk or change to satisfy the pull of trust I felt from Him, but in the pit of my heart I began fortifying the little space where I held everything I truly valued. 

    On the last day I visited "our dock". My own hurricane stripped disgrace of a dock not far from the base that jutted out into the ocean just around a slight bend in the beach where it enabled me to feel alone with God. Almost every day at 5:10 am I would meet with God to pray aloud, listen, and watch the sun rise (which you haven't seen a true sunrise until you've seen it crest above the Caribbean). On that last visit I finally chose to let God completely destroy the walls around my desires, and instead of feeling fear, I felt an overwhelming sense of freedom and peace. I cried knowing that God was in complete control to give me what I need and take what I didn't. Even though God was already in control, it was still up to me to decide to see it that way. I am so glad that God IS in control, for He can make decisions based on the ENTIRE picture when we can only make decisions based on the minuscule amount we can see. It was an amazing revelation. 
    I looked at my watch and saw that it was time to start heading back, but just when I was about to get up, something strange happened. I suddenly felt like God was asking me to jump into the water. It was clear. It was definite. It was extremely weird. It was my test. And you know what I did? I walked away. I WALKED AWAY! 
I thought about not having enough time to change before class started.
I thought about what people might think. 
I thought about how silly it was, and how it MUST have just come from me.
But I tell you what, the entire walk back to the base, I have never felt such immediate regret. I thought about what I had just experienced and how maybe that was the Holy Spirit asking me to cement my spiritual revelation to a physical act. Possibly symbolize a new baptism to living in God's control. And I had just walked away. Like many other crazy things God had asked me to do that I didn't act upon, I minimized, rationalized, and justified my unwillingness and pressed it into the hidden corners of my heart. But every now and again, God would remind me of our dock and guilt would overwhelm me. 
    About six months ago God took my now husband and I on an adventure back to Central America, and we made a point of visiting the YWAM base in Belize. I knew among other reasons for visiting the base, I was being given another chance to respond to my call from almost 2 years before. We stayed one night at the base, and that morning, before the sun rose, I snuck out of our cabana to tend to my unfinished business. Walking down the beach in the darkness of night I was overwhelmed with memories and expectant for God to show up. As I reached our dock I could see that the last 2 years had not treated it so well. With hardly enough planks to even call it a dock, I practically leapt from one rotten board to the next before situating myself at the end to wait for the sun to rise. Feeling foolish, I subconsciously told God that as soon as the sun peeked over the horizon that I would plunge in. I prayed while I waited and felt God remind me of a verse I had memorized in Romans 12. 
Paul wrote:
    "So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." 
As another version puts it:
  "And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice--the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."

    Feeling adequately inspired and ready to go "all-in" I expectantly waited for the sun to show up, but I began to worry. Online I had read that the sun was supposed to have come up over 5 minutes ago. It was really cloudy and judging on how light the sky was getting, I had a sinking feeling that the sun had already rose and was hiding behind the clouds. I felt stupid for "throwing out my fleece" and testing God for a revelation of His love for me that morning. I realized I had the choice to follow through with what he said, on my own, without Him coming through first, and with a bursting heart I leapt off the dock, fully clothed, into the water. 

And then God came through.

    As I clambered out of the ocean and back onto my plank, the most explosive fiery ray of light burst from the East. In tears I watched as the most beautiful sunrise I had ever experienced unfolded over our little dock. I was completely satisfied in that first shimmer of orange, but God wasn't done yet. Because that is how God is. He lavishes His love upon us and just when we are filled He tells us He isn't quite finished yet, and continues to outpour his love until it completely smothers any trace of shame and disbelief. And there was MY sunrise. The Fiery orange led into bursting red and magenta with glory rays slicing through the clouds (yeah, the scientific name for sundays is LITERALLY "glory"). And if that wasn't enough, ten minutes in, the entire Western sky behind me seemed to echo His glory in hot pink-fringed cotton candy clouds. I was miserably in awe. I was soaking wet with a huge grin on my face. God came through, at just the right time, and not a second before or after.
    I believe the Holy Spirit confronts us with little choices like these, which to the world can sometimes seem radical… silly… or just straight up crazy. But when did Jesus ever ask us to live comfortably? When did he ever show us how to blend in and strictly follow decrees and religion? Christ is the ultimate example of what the world calls CRAZY. His entire ministry constantly threw a curveball to what society thought was right living. Why would he expect anything less that that from us?!
Therefore, I choose to be:


Unconformed to the world's standard of living, unsatisfied with my faith and always pursuing more, and uncomfortable in such a way that the only way I can make it through is to fully depend on God. Because anything less than that is not my all. And Christ CLEARLY asks for EVERY part of me.

Let's look at some definitions:

    1. A state of mind in which someone is or seems to be unaware of their immediate surroundings
   2. An unrealistic or self-deluding fantasy
    1. Regain consciousness; become aware of
    2. Make or become active again

    When we "dream" we are reaching for something we don't have, and often times it's something we don't really need. Our minds become consumed in the MORE and we become unaware of our immediate surroundings. When we live "awake" we become aware of what we already have, and if we are an American, then we most likely already have more than enough.
Watching TV the other day I saw a commercial that I thought epitomized The American Dream: 

    While soaking it in I thought about how terribly sad this concept was. Never being satisfied. Never catching a break. Never looking at what we have, always looking at what might be. Never stop improving. 
We need to get out of this ritual and more importantly, get out of the mindset that somehow we earned our overwhelmingly ridiculous wealth. "Work hard, get rich" works in America, but there are plenty of people in developing countries that work extremely hard, in extremely difficult environments just to SURVIVE. I'm not saying that there isn't poverty in North America, but even our definition of "poverty" in America is better off than most developing countries.
United States poverty is declared if a family's total income is less than the standard income for the amount of people in that family.
For example: 
In 2012, the most recent year for which data are available, the poverty threshold for a family of four was $23,492/year. The official national poverty rate was 15%. There were 46.5 million people in poverty. Taking the average income of the United States (between our wealthiest and our poorest) the American yearly income average is an astounding $50,000 a year or $137 a day. Real quick lets compare that to humanity:
   Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day
   1.6 billion people — a quarter of humanity — live without electricity

For the 1.9 billion children from the developing world, there are:
   640 million without adequate shelter (1 in 3)
   400 million with no access to safe water (1 in 5)
   270 million with no access to health services (1 in 7)
Poverty Map: what the world would look like if a country's size were determined by its severity of poverty per capita ratio-- North America becomes a sliver, Australia is almost nonexistent and India triples in size.
    Poverty is complicated and I admit that I am incredibly naive, but these statistics are still incredibly humbling. My intention of posting these facts are not to throw around guilt or even discredit the hard work my family and ancestors before me put into providing opportunities for our generation. My intention is for it to drive us to step back and ask ourselves how we can EVER compare our riches to those who have more WITHOUT comparing downward as well! We are so quick to look around enviously at the MORE and not downward at what we ALREADY have and what we take for granted, like water, shelter, health services. 

So how do we wake up?
Lets look at what God has to say.

Hebrews 12
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing out eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Matthew 6
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Acts 4
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God's grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
James 1
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Matthew 19
And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Jesus doesn't call us to give him portions of his life, He commands us to go all in, to give away what separates us from him. To focus on Him. 
It's when I start thinking that I can create my own happiness that I run the risk of failure. For everyone and everything of this world will let me down. The ONLY thing in this life that is fail-safe is our God, who intimately knows us and the desires of our hearts. If I choose to let Him work in my life, I know I will not be let down. If I let Him, He will take me on adventures I can only imagine. If I Die To Self, I create room for Christ to move.  There is nothing as important as serving my God and humbling myself to let him receive all the glory. 
-by realizing our need for Christ
-by realizing the life he wants for us to live
-by praying dangerously
-by obediently following through with what the Holy Spirit asks of us

It is a terrifyingly beautiful gift, 
but I choose life, and life abundantly.