Britt Nicole’s new album came out this week, and I may or may not have been listening to the song “After You” on repeat ever since… the song was initially my favorite simply because of its musicality, but the words have struck a chord in my heart and shed light on something I’ve fought with for my whole life.
“I’m not after the world, I’m after You”
That thought is so simple. And I think I’ve always glazed over the enormity of it.
I’ve always wanted to think my life was about chasing after my Savior. I know Luke 9:23; you must deny yourself and take up your cross to follow Jesus, but for some reason the simplest lessons can be the hardest for me to learn. For some reason I let my head knowledge justify that I definitely haven’t been doing much denying myself in my walk with the LORD.
The part of those lyrics that hits me hardest is the stark contrast. To be after Him, to be chasing and following my Savior, I can’t be after the world anymore. I can’t pick both. I have to aspire to be something so much higher than any earthly standard. I have to live to please my Savior rather than people.
That’s where the irony comes in though. Because to me that sounds like immense pressure. Having to live up to some heavenly standard sounds ridiculously harder than pleasing the world, but in actuality, it’s not. The most freedom I have ever found has been throwing off the chains I shackled myself with. I have bound by wanting to live for this world, wanting to prove something to this world, wanting to be enough for this world. But in the end, all of that is going to come to nothing anyway. So why is that what I waste all my time and energy doing?
Because I want it.
I want to please the world.
I want my parents, friends, mentors, professors, and everyone else to be proud of me.
I want to prove that I am smart, strong, responsible…
I am after the world.
My goals… have always been aimed at here, at earth. I’ve wanted the success, the grades, the popularity, the looks. And sometimes, I even convinced myself I wanted them for the “right” reasons. I convinced myself that I wanted to do all of those things for the glory of God, that working hard and being mature proved I was a “good Christian”. And yes, I truly believe God wants me to work hard and do my best at the things I do (Colossians 3), but I have always stumbled in what my motives are for working so hard.
I have been a middle school camp counselor the past two summers, and I absolutely loved it. In and of itself, that role was about serving Jesus and pouring into younger students’ lives. But I quickly realized that I wasn’t always serving for the right reasons. I gave every last ounce of energy I had for those two weeks. I was constantly looking for ways to help someone else. I loved when an adult counselor would say, “Wow, you’re so responsible!” I loved when I got the recognition and praise. That fueled me. That made me want to keep going. That made me want to do more. But what kept me going wasn’t that I was pointing my students closer to their loving Heavenly Father. And that breaks my heart.
I don’t want to be after then things of God for the sake of the world anymore. I want to be after Christ alone no matter what this world thinks of me. No matter whether I get any praise. And even if the opposite is true. Even if I get ridiculed and rejected. The love of my Father should be all that matters. And I want to finally live in the freedom that can be found only in chasing after Him. I don’t want to try to please this world anymore, well, that’s not true. I want to, but I want to chase after Jesus more, and it’s way past time to actually get my priorities straight.