Answering the call of the Lord to give up everything and to follow Him is not an easy thing to do. The key is to remember the trust you have in Him. He is our loving Father, and with that in mind, there is no reason not to answer His call. A priest once told me that many people seem to think that it is a choice to be holy or to be happy. What many do not realize is that it is possible to be both. When I first heard this, it was difficult for me to believe mainly because I had not experienced what it truly felt to be happy in the Lord… until now.
I have officially been living in New Jersey for a week. The difference between my life in New York and this life in New Jersey is like night and day. It was surprising how easy it was to settle into this new life. The reason why it was so easy was probably because I was finally able to answer Jesus’ call to follow Him.
“Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.”
Moving to New York was a big step, but moving to New Jersey was even bigger in many ways. When I moved to New York, I was familiar with the area and understood my surroundings. New Jersey is completely new, and the streets are not on a grid like the streets of New York. I have had to rely on my phone’s GPS system more times than I would like to admit, and I have still gotten lost. These times have resulted in a lot of prayer and reliance on the Holy Spirit. Regardless, New Jersey has brought me more happiness than I could have ever imagined, which put me into a rather odd position as I began the Lenten season on Ash Wednesday. This was the first time that I could say I was completely satisfied with my life and genuinely happy. I felt a little guilty and found myself thinking, “I have to be sacrificing and I shouldn’t be happy about it.” I remembered the wisdom of that priest though, and I began to understand what it meant to be happy and holy.
The reality is that I did sacrifice, but I did it with a joyful heart because I knew what I was getting for that sacrifice. I sacrificed the “comfort” of my New York life to follow the Lord. I had established a solid community of friendships in New York. In New Jersey I am on my own, but I have immense faith that there is a new community I am meant to encounter here. By giving up everything of my past life, I am free. I have never felt this kind of freedom before, and it is liberating. Holding on to the “temporary goods” of this world kept me from Jesus because I valued them more than Him. I feared giving them up because they were all I knew, but letting them go cleared my mind and heart, allowing me to see things through Jesus’s eyes, not mine.
I found myself singing along to the radio while driving this morning. I have not done that in years, and it was because I no longer felt foolish doing it. I was no longer living based on the world’s perceptions, and instead I was living based on the Lord’s perceptions. The Lord makes everything new, and I believe that is what He is going to do during this Lenten season. This new life is going to show me how to set aside my false sense of self and take on my authentic self, which the Lord created me to be. I can once again say that I believe with all my heart that in the Lord anything is possible. I am confident that He is going to do some incredible life-changing things and He will do it because He is God and He can do anything.