ODJ: earth’s shadow

December 11, 2014 

READ: Mark 8:31-38 

If you give up your life for my sake . . . you will save it (v.35).

When I see the moon at its thinnest stage, I sometimes think of a passage I read in Flannery O’Connor’s A Prayer Journal. The writer composed these poetic words for God: “You are the slim crescent of a moon . . . and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon . . . I do not know you God, because I am in the way. Please help me to push myself aside.”

As I consider these thoughts, I have to admit that there’s a part of me that feels entitled to have comfort in this world while still enjoying a deep closeness with Christ. Jesus said, however, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways” (Mark 8:34). For me, this means not stomping my feet when God tells me “no,” not pouting when God says “wait” and not grumbling when God gives me a new task.

Like all people, I was born with an inner devotion to myself. Fortunately, Jesus has made me aware of it, and has offered to help me curb it with commandments such as, “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10:27). This is His kind and gentle way of showing me that my love of myself is truly automatic. He didn’t need to teach me to pursue my personal comfort or to seek self-preservation—I’m a natural in those areas! Sadly, it’s true.

Thankfully, Jesus also said, “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake . . . you will save it” (Mark 8:35). Deepening our devotion to Christ means moving from a ‘me-centred’ life to a ‘God-centred’ life. And as we turn away from our self-serving desires, God will give us new desires (Galatians 5:24). He’ll also give us a better view of His glory as we remain in His shadow. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

365-day plan› 1 Timothy 4:1-16

Look up Nehemiah 5:14-18 to see how Nehemiah’s selflessness reflected his God-fearing attitude. Read Acts 5:1-5 to see the cost of selfishness in Ananias’ life. 
What’s the relationship between love and selfishness? What changes, if any, is God asking you to make in order to increase your devotion to Him?