To steal a quote from Folgers coffee, lately I’ve found that the “best part of waking up is God in your cup.” It’s an amazing feeling to open your eyes from a peaceful night’s sleep and the first thing that crosses your mind (pun intended there :)) is your Heavenly Father. That’s where I’ve been since I started to write this blog. Don’t get me wrong. I have my days where it’s just not there. I feel disconnected because I let the things of this world get to me. In my line of work, that’s easy to do sometimes. The good news is, however, that no matter how empty my tank gets, God is there to fill it back up again to overflowing.
This particular day I’ve entitled A Lesson in Selflessness. It came very close to being called Get Out of Yourself and Get Into God, but after little deliberation with myself, I thought the former a bit catchier. Either way, that’s the topic of discussion…how when you turn your thoughts and aspirations outward to the heavens instead of inward on our selfishness, you have no choice but to be content.
So how did I get here? My last 90-day-program post was about making God the center of your relationship. In doing so, we have an innate desire to please God and live for Him. More importantly, we have a desire to be obedient to Him. Of course we are human, and as such, our propensity is to carry a sinful nature. That doesn’t mean, however, we’re to cease trying to be more Christ-like. And being Christ-like means communicating with God. On this particular day, I didn’t have long to wait before He showed me what He wanted me to see. I woke up and had to get back to my part-time job fairly early. I didn’t get up early enough to spend time with my Father and was at work by 6:30 in the morning. When I got to work, though, I made sure to take time out to talk with Him. I parked my squad car across from a convenience store and prayed. I then began to write some things that came to me as my grandfather taught me to do whenever I was about to write (…thinking back and fondly recalling the many notebook pages of words that he wanted to use in his poetry :)…). For some reason, selflessness came to mind. From there, I went to unselfish and giving and then fulfillment. The last thing I wrote was giving freely of yourself. I thought, “Hmmm…that’s what I’m supposed to do as a father and husband. Give freely of myself to my wife and kids.” Is that it? If I give of myself to them, will that ensure that I have a wonderful relationship with them. Sure, it helps. But that’s not what it says we’re to do in God’s word. Remember I said that I’m not a Pastor or bible scholar. I do remember hearing enough times that God comes first in everything, though.
So I turned to the concordance to look up some of the words that I had written. Eventually, I came to Matthew 16:24-25.
“…Then Jesus turned to His disciples, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang onto your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it. And what do benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is there anything worth more than your soul?’“
It’s not about me and what I can do. It’s about Him and what He does. When I read the study guide, it made even more sense.
When Jesus used this picture of His followers taking up their crosses to follow Him, the disciples knew what He meant. Crucifixion was a common Roman method of execution, and condemned criminals had to carry their cross through the streets to the execution site. Following Jesus, therefore, meant a true commitment, the risk of death, and no turning back. The possibility of losing their lives was very real for the disciples as well as for Jesus. Real discipleship implies real commitment- pledging our whole existence to His service. If we try to save physical life from death, pain or discomfort, we may risk losing eternal life. If we protect ourselves from the pain God calls us to suffer, we begin to die spiritually and emotionally. Our lives turn inward, and we lose our intended purpose. When we give our life in service to Christ, however, we discover the real purpose of living.”
God first. Then family. Then everything else. If we’re talking about building a relationship that lasts, a better relationship with our spouse…a better relationship with our kids…a better relationship with colleagues… then our first step is build a better relationship with the Father.
Get out of yourself, and get into God.