Right now that lesson is...well, it's hard to label it precisely. But here's the gist of it. Don't settle for "normal." Don't settle for what the world says is normal or right or good. Strive for what the Lord says best. And that looks weird to the world. Even to most Christians it might look weird. And weird is ok if that's what God says.
Most 25-year-old ladies are working to establish a career, set up a 401(k), get married, set goals for their future, buy a nicer car, expand their wardrobe, and buy more shoes. And I want all these things (except maybe the 401(k), but that's a completely different issue). None of these things are inherently wrong, but if these things are not solely for the glory of the Lord, then wrong would be an appropriate descriptor. If what I do is anything other than glorifying the Lord, it is wrong because my purpose in this life and for all of eternity is to bring glory to God.
A friend and I are reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan together right now. This is one of the avenues the Lord is using to drive home this message in my life. He challenges the accepted norm of the American "Christian" life that sees complete commitment to the Lord as crazy with these words:
"If one person 'wastes' away his day by spending hours connecting with God, and the other person believes he is too busy or has better things to do than worship the Creator and Sustainer, who is the crazy one? If one person invests her or his resources in the poor--which, according to Matthew 25, is giving to Jesus Himself--and the other extravagantly remodels a temporary dwelling that will not last beyond his few years left on this earth, who is the crazy one?" (p. 136)
This is amid a chapter of his book describing some indicators of a life that is genuinely obsessed with Jesus. I love the description of obsession as "a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated" from urbandictionary.com (Disclaimer: I do not find urbandictionary.com as an authority on definitions or pretty much anything). Maybe being labeled as obsessed wouldn't be such a bad thing.
Francis Chan goes on to say this, which summarizes the challenge of my life as of late:
"Obsessed people are more concerned with obeying God than doing what is expected or fulfilling the status quo. A person who is obsessed with Jesus will do things that don't always make sense in terms of success or wealth on this earth." (p. 136-137)
A devotional I read recently reinforces this point:
"Though I [God] have brought many pleasures into your life, not one of them is essential. Receive my blessings with open hands. Enjoy my good gifts, but do not cling to them. Turn your attention to the Giver of all good things, and rest in the knowledge that you are complete in me. The one thing you absolutely need is the one thing you can never lose: my presence with you" (Sarah Young in Jesus Calling, 2011, p. 298).
I'm not sure exactly how this should play out in my life or what it needs to look like in my specific situation, but I do know that it looks significantly different than the life I currently live. I do know that it will take me out of my comfort zone. I do know that it will require some hard decisions. Decision that are hard because they go against what is accepted as "normal" or "sensible." Decisions that are hard because I'm not used to trusting God on a literal, practical level. My "trust" in the Lord has basically only been on a theoretical level my whole life. I have trusted the Lord for my next meal, knowing that my kitchen is full of food. I have trusted the Lord to cover my bills, knowing that my next paycheck would be direct-deposited into my bank account at the end of the month. But living a life of complete commitment to the Lord requires real trust and may be out of the area I have determined to be my comfort zone.
It's countercultural to hold loosely the things of this world. Materialism is normal. Being busy is normal. Being selfish is normal. Being independent and self-reliant is normal. But these are the opposite of the Lord's calling for my life and for the lives of all those who claim the name of Christ. First Corinthians 1 explains that the world sees the life committed to the Gospel of Christ as foolishness and folly.
So this is the lesson I'm learning. And I fear I will need to keep learning this lesson over and over again on a daily basis until the day Jesus calls me home. But until then, I will fight the urge to do what is expected. I will fight the urge to settle for the status quo. I will fight the urge to avoid being called weird or foolish by the world. I will fight to live a life obsessed with Jesus.