According to the 2019 US Census, 20% of fathers are absent from their minor children. I have to admit that when I first became a father I was shocked as to how much sacrifice was demanded of me. Mothers, you may be rolling your eyes all the way back in your heads right now as I speak of a dad’s sacrifice. Stick with me please?! I had no idea how selfish I was. Truth be told, there was no way to prepare me. Being a dad demanded more of me than I was ready to give.
In my own defense, I did fall headlong in love with my kids and with being a dad. On that journey there were some miraculous moments of revelation. For example, in the throes of my first born’s infancy I remember going to the grocery store at some odd hour and talking to the cashier. I told her that “I love being with my daughter more than I love sleep.” It put words to how much satisfaction there was in serving someone else. This was/is not always the case, as I hope you can relate; Dare I say it’s rarely the case. But it would seem that somewhere in that statement lies some truth of G-d’s Kingdom.
When I wrote this it was the first weekend of the NFL playoffs. If it were up to me I would of probably watched every game and spent much of my time on the couch preparing for the week. But, as a person aware that others depend on me, I didn’t. Saturday we all got up at stupid o’clock and went to my son’s basketball game. Afterwards, I spent a couple hours with an old friend. Later my wife and I had a date night. Sunday morning we all went to church, on Sunday afternoon I took one of my kids to a birthday party and washed clothes. I did find a way to enjoy every one of these activities; I mean these are MY people, BUT many of these things were not my idea, nor are they what I would of preferred to be doing.
Can you relate?
It’s hit me lately as I have continued down the path of G-d’s will for my life and I’ve reflected on the idea of my life is not my own (1 Corinthians 6:19). It’s one that we Americans have a hard time with. I mean we’re ALL ABOUT self and if we experience something uncomfortable or inconvenient, we curse the devil and move on.
We’re focused on retiring and vacationing, driving fancy cars and being smug to each other, Facebook posting and Instagram-ing about me, me, me.
But what we realize through scripture, I hope, is that giving is better than receiving.
Others are more important than ourselves.
Washing the feet of others is what God’s people are supposed to be doing.
Using the gifts G-d has given us to help others is THE MOST SATISFIYING experience we can have.
We’ve lost touch with this primary principle in the Bible… “Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone wants to 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 My sake will find it. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”” – Matthew 16:24-27
There are good plans that G-d has made for us to influence and change the world. Those plans require our willing participation. Furthermore, they require our willingness to lay down our own plans. That may sound offensive or barbaric BUT regardless of how we may feel they are the most satisfying and fulfilling. Those plans are what we were made to do. They line up with our gifts and experiences. They make SENSE of the hardship. Those plans use the lessons we’ve learned. They scratch the itches deep within our souls.
You may be saying to yourself… What is G-d’s plan for my life? I’ve already missed it! I’m too far gone! Etc Etc Etc.
NOPE. You are not that powerful and G-d and His redemptive abilities are so much greater than that. We’re not talking about some shallow concept here. We are talking about plans that were created for us before the foundations of the world. Plans for our good. Plans that are a part of our DNA.
Does this mean I have to give up all my self-pleasures and self-care? Give up my desire to retire early and do what I please, when I please? Yep, at least in the idolatress state that we’ve been holding it. That line of thinking is opposed to the Kingdom of G-d. We’ve been tricked into thinking that we are the center of the Universe, that what we think has unfathomable value, that our possessions and success in this cosmos is what matters most. It does not and THAT is good news!
Why do you think the rich young ruler went away sad after Jesus told him to sell all his possessions and give them to the poor? Jesus knew that he was MISSING the real wealth of life and Jesus was trying to give it to Him but He couldn’t receive it until He let go of the ungodly grip He had.
The Bible says in Matthew 7 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
I’ve heard that verse get watered down to some form of an interpretation like… love G-d and love others, that’s the will of G-d. Well… yes AND no. It includes those things but that is not what Jesus was referring to when He said to pick up your cross and follow me. We’ve oversimplified and diluted this at the expense of discipleship to where it no longer draws the appropriate line in the sand. This type of sacrifice is expensive, making the value of it immense. This is where the beginning of Kingdom is, at the beginning of cross bearing—the giving up of our desires and the welcoming of His desires.
You may immediately be concerned whether you have the right job, are living in the right city, going to the right church, etc. but G-d’s will is MUCH bigger and beautiful than that. Doing G-d’s will has MOST to do with being a disciple. Meaning, allowing Jesus to shape you, to train and teach you; to bring you to and through tough situations.
Being a disciple centers around deep relationship with G-d.
It’s communing with Him.
Pushing your ego aside.
Talking with Him, walking with Him.
Pouring your heart out like a new puzzle asking for His assistance with the assembly.
Where we are and what organizations we contribute to are mere details in the much bigger picture of finding ourselves fully in G-d.
The thing is that as we allow Jesus to be our Rabbi he teaches us what’s valuable in life, and it’s not the same things as the rest of the world. Our life starts to become less about us, and more about Him. He becomes central and that is for our good and His.
THIS is the invitation to freedom, joy, identity, and eternal purpose, like my conversation with the cashier, it’s found when we fall in love with doing G-d’s will. When we experience His pleasure over us choosing Him and His will, it out-shadows even the finest things this world has to offer. I pray that a we choose Him and His will we will be able to say “I love doing G-d’s will more than I love doing my own.”