"You did not choose me, but I chose you..." John 15:16
"...Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.'" - Matthew 16:24 & 25
I recently discovered a contemporary version of a classic hymn, I Surrender All, performed by the contemporary Christian band Selah. I grew up in church singing the more traditional version, but the message and the power are not lost in Selah's version.
Chosen. It sounds good, and makes one feel special. To be chosen is always better than to be left. I remember hating having been the last one chosen when students were told to pair off or pick partners for some activity in grade school. No one wanted the be the last one left, the last one chosen. To be chosen by the most popular kid in the class was always an honor; to be chosen last was always a reason for pity--self pity, and the laughter filled, merciless pity of others.
To be chosen by God is a priceless, un-nameable honor. It's not a reason for self-congratulatory pride because Jesus quickly reminds me if I am to follow him, I must surrender all. In the Scripture passage above, Jesus says surrender involves three steps: a) deny myself, and b) take up my cross, and c) follow Him.
Denying myself does not mean I can never have what I want. It doesn't mean I am unimportant. How could I be unimportant be still be chosen by God? Self-denial means I don't always get my personal preferences. Taking up my cross means I am going to experience some real pain. Taking up my cross means some part of me that is not very useful to God will die---and I know that part will not go quietly into the night. But it will go.
Now comes the good part--I get to follow Jesus! I get to become more than I would have ever been on my own; I get to share the thoughts and purposes of the One Who Created Everything. I am transformed from fear and uncertainty to peaceful expectation and confidence! I no longer need to know how every little thing will turn out because I am walking with Jesus, the One Who Makes Everything And Makes Everything Turn Out Well.