The root of my issue didn't go away with childhood. Some days I still find myself thinking, "Man, life will be great when..." Interestingly, the great moment of "when" seldom brings happiness within itself. Each stage of life holds its own set of joys and pains. It's been a rude awakening over the years.
During my childhood, however, much of my wishing my life away had to do with gaining independence and freedom. I couldn't wait to be grown, to make my own decisions, to run my own life. I could hardly wait to be my own boss. I dreamed of the day when -- like Frank Sinatra -- I'd sing "I Did It My Way!"
And everything in North American society thrusts us towards this goal. From childhood, we're encouraged to study hard and get good grades, so one day we can get a good job and become independent. Our parents, along with Bill Cosby on "The Cosby Show," cracked jokes about hoping the children wouldn't return to the "nest" after graduating from college. We are taught to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, hold our own and make our own way in the world. Our main goal in maturing as men and women is independence.
Then we begin to walk closely with Christ. And everything we've been taught gets turned upside down.
The world tells us to be leaders, not followers. And yet we sing, "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus."
We're taught to dream big dreams for ourselves. And yet we sing, "Be Thou My Vision."
The media tells us to have it our way. And yet we sing, "It's all about You, Jesus. And all this is for You. For your glory and your fame. It's not about me..."
And when the pastor steps up to the pulpit, He preaches a sermon on John 15:5. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
Nothing? I can do nothing apart from God? Well, it doesn't take a genius to see that plenty of people are doing plenty of things without God. Multi-millions of dollars are being made without God. Great books are being written without God. Amazing music is being composed and sung without God. Obviously plenty of things can be done without God.
However, I believe John 15 states that we "can do nothing" of true eternal significance without Him. And what has true eternal significance? Those things that point back to Him. Those things that are done for Him. Those things that He empowers us to do.
Now, I'm not saying that you need to quit your job, and become a pastor or missionary. Secular work can glorify God too. Providing for your family honors God. Walking in relationship with your coworkers, so they can observe a Christian up close and personal, glorifies God.
Many people today will never cross the threshold of a church building. So what do we do about that? We, the Church, have to go to them. And the best way to do that is in natural relationship with family members, neighbors and coworkers.
But we cannot impact our family, neighbors and coworkers if we're not connected to God. We must depend on Him for a spiritual power source that only He can give. Through prayer (talking to God) and reading the Word of God (Him speaking back to us) we stay connected. Worship connects us to God too. And not just Sunday morning worship either. Some of my best times of worship happen in the privacy of my car. I'm sure anyone that witnesses these "services" thinks I'm a nut-case!
When I'm connected to the Lord, I can see the world the way He sees it. I begin to dream His dreams, envision His visions. I desire the things He desires -- to see a lost world turn away from its selfish desires and turn to Him and His will. When I'm connected to Him, I can see my role in His plans. When I'm connected to Him, His purposes become my purposes.
I've committed to stay connected to the Vine. How about you?
Purposed For Him,