Have you ever wondered, "God, why aren't you listening?"

It's a common question, especially just after Easter. We celebrate Jesus' coming on Palm Sunday, read His words on Maundy Thursday, remember His sacrifice on Good Friday, and rejoice at His resurrection on Easter Morning. We learn of His authority, power and compassion. Then the celebration ends and life gets back to normal. We take a look at our lives. And things don't seem to be going according to plan.

My church just doesn't get it. My ministry isn't growing. My family isn't a family. My relationships are fragile. The love I long for isn't there. Or it's some other desire that's going nowhere. You cry out to God and nothing seems to happen. But what you're really asking is, "Why don't you love me?"

Here's a word of encouragement: Stop thinking so much of yourself! Doesn't sound like encouragement, does it? Read carefully and let me explain.

It is natural to want more. We think of the world (more money, a bigger house, better clothes, etc.), but this desire follows us to our spiritual side as well. My church has to be bigger. My ministry must be global. My family and marriage have to be perfect. I must be married and have children. I must be successful. What we truly want is security in an organization, people, a person, a job, or a situation.

We easily translate all this into noble causes for God and His kingdom, yet we dare not bring ourselves to consider His will. What if He wants my church to be small...my ministry to be local? What if He doesn't want me to be married...to have children? What if He wants to use my broken family and relationships to impact others? What if He doesn't want me to be well known or seen as a success?

It comes down to how others see us. Recognition. Though we may not need parades or applause, we do want to be held in high esteem. But we define that esteem in terms of what the world deems important.

There was once a man who followed Jesus throughout His ministry. He was there when John baptized Him, walked with Him across Israel, and watched as the blind received sight, the lame walked, lepers were cured, the deaf heard, the dead were raised, and the good news was preached to the poor. He was also there in those terrible days that brought Jesus betrayal, condemnation, and death. And afterward, He saw Him alive and ascend into heaven. But this man wasn't one of the Disciples.

His name was Joseph. The Disciples nicknamed him Barsabas, which means Son of the Oath. When it was time to replace Judas Iscariot, the choice came down to him and Matthias. They cast lots and the decision was made...Matthias. (Acts 1:15-26) The chance to be one of the Twelve, to be revered by the Christian world as a Disciple with a capital "D", was forever gone. How would we have reacted?

God, I want to be more. I want to be a part of this group. I want my ministry to expand. I want that honor and respect. I've worked hard for it. I deserve better. I'm a good person.

We don't know how Joseph felt. He was clearly a man of high integrity, or he would never have been considered. But why do you suppose he's even mentioned? After all, we are not simply reading the words of man here. God specifically wanted us to know something. Here's what I believe.

God knew ...what Joseph had done, that he followed Jesus, the person he had become. And that was enough! Joseph accepted God's will. So what does this mean for us? The only thing that is important is following God's will. To be honored by people means nothing compared to being honored by God. We must release the worldly desires we hold inside and become truly humble...just as Jesus was. We cannot take up our cross, if we are not willing to follow Him all the way to His.

Easter has come and gone. Will you keep your promise to Him? Will you be a Child of the Oath?

"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) "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." (John 12:26)

Take care and be God's,

Chuck Graham

Ciloa ... Encouraging one another as long as it is called Today! Ciloa is a registered trademark of Ciloa, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. A Note of Encouragement is a copyright interest held by Ciloa, Inc.

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