By Stephen Chavez, Assistant Editor, Adventist Review

Summary: In our service to Christ, God claims all that we have, all that we are. But in a weird twist of autonomy, God created us with the ability to withhold our allegiance and pursue our own selfish goals.

Several years ago my family and I were driving from our home in northern California to a family reunion in southwestern Missouri. As we drove through northern Nevada, I looked at the miles and miles of rocky, sandy, sage-covered prairie, surrounded by rough, barren mountains. I couldn’t help but think, Man, I’m glad I don’t live here . . . .Within 12 months I was pastoring a two-church district on the high desert of northern Nevada and wondering what I had done to earn this wilderness experience.

A few years later I had been invited to interview for an opening at the Adventist Review. As I drove into metropolitan Washington, D C, fresh from the open spaces of Nevada, surrounded by slow-moving traffic on a cold, gray, December afternoon, the thought, I’m glad I don’t live here, stampeded through my mind like vegetarians on their way to a salad bar. . . . Six months later, . . . you guessed it.

I’ve learned. I no longer presume to tell the Lord where I want to live, or how I want to serve Him. Rather, I dedicate my life--my interests, my talents, my influence, my means--to Him, and pray that, through me, His name will be glorified. I don’t succeed nearly as often as I’d like, but I’m honored to know that on a few occasions over the years--and entirely by His grace--I have been able to make a difference for His kingdom.

In our service to Christ, God claims all that we have, all that we are. But in a weird twist of autonomy, God created us with the ability to withhold our allegiance and pursue our own selfish goals. The irony is that when we cling to our own ego-centered impulses, we realize even fewer spiritual and material blessings than if we surrender them completely to Him.

It’s tempting to believe that God is satisfied with the bare minimum of our time, energy, and finances; but what God really wants is for us to get lost in the ocean of His loving, generous, and merciful character, and reflect it to everyone within our sphere of influence. The rest will take care of itself. Delight yourself in the Lord, promised David, and he will give you the desires of your heart (Ps 37:4).

To delight yourself in the Lord is to bask in His love, revel in His generosity, and be enthralled by His mercy. A spirit of stingy selfishness cannot coexist in a climate where knowing God and doing His will is one’s highest priority. That’s why it’s important--no matter our talents, no matter how much we have, no matter where we happen to be working--to make Christ first, last, and best in everything we do, everyday. It may not get you out of the desert, but there’s shelter and rest in the shadow of the Almighty (see Ps 91:1).

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July–September, 1999

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