There are things in my life that I admit are pretty easy to take for granted. I often overlook the simple things, such as waking up in a bed, having clothes to wear, food to eat, and a job that provides for my needs as well as some of my wants. The Lord certainly has provided and continues to provide for me despite my many failures as a man. Another thing I’ve found that I overlook is my family. My immediate family is in good health and relatively tight-knit. Until recent, we’ve pretty much all lived within the same area, with no one living further than a 15-20 minute drive away. I’ve had one of my brothers and his family living maybe 3-4 hours away at one time, but they’re back in the area now. As a relatively recent development, my oldest brother currently lives all the way in Ohio. However, even with these distances, we’ve mostly kept in touch and all continue to make it out for your usual holiday family gatherings.
I suppose having a close family is somewhat of a cultural thing, although I’ve felt that our family makes the extra effort to remain this way. Of course we’re not devoid of the occasional internal drama, but I think the fact that most of my family is saved plays a major part in holding it together. Even though I myself am divorced, I think I actually still have a decent relationship with my in-laws (former/ex-in-laws? Still in-laws? Not too sure what to call that now…) as I still visit now and then with the kids and help them out with various matters when I can. I would even say that my relationship with my ex-wife isn’t really one of bitterness.
The state of my family is just something that I don’t really think about because it’s always been there.
As I’ve met more people, I’ve come to find how truly blessed I am to have such a family. I know several friends and acquaintances where their families are distant or even in conflict. Just the other day at Starbucks, I was a little heart-broken as a teenage girl was crying out and pleading with her father about some situation that was occurring with what sounded like her mother and her boyfriend or step-father. I looked on feeling quite helpless. I thought of my own daughter and how her situation and relationship with her divorced parents may be affecting her since she’s probably close to that girl in age. As a complete stranger, let alone an adult male stranger, I didn’t feel that I should speak to her… though I felt pretty heavily burdened to share Christ with her, as I know how much He’s comforted me in my various trials.
Coming back to my family, not only are we close, but I could probably say that we’re actually pretty “successful” collectively as well. Most of my siblings have graduated from college and have relative prosperity with regards to their situations. They all live in their own homes and support their own families. As in our culture, my parents have enjoyed touting the success of their trophy children. I suppose even with my current situation, I’ve had my share of it in the past during my time with Legaci. Even now, they still ask me to sing for the miscellaneous cultural events that they take part in, though I don’t really feel any desire performing in that outlet any longer. Don’t get me wrong, I love music and I love to sing, but I just don’t feel like performing towards that particular end. Other than that aspect (which has come and gone), I don’t really have anything with regards to my “successes” that can be held up as a trophy.
I sometimes feel like I’m that one wrong piece that got mixed into the pieces of this puzzle box that is my family’s success. No matter how hard you try to make my piece fit, it just doesn’t line up right. I don’t feel as if I’m living up to the standard that has been set by those who have preceded me.
I will say that even in my current situation, I am truly blessed. I thank God for His mercy and provisions and how He has and continues to sustain me. I thank Him for His continuing redemptive work in my life. I thank Him for my trials as He grows me, guiding me in this pursuit of holiness. I rest in the hope that He will complete the good work He has begun in my life (Phil 1:6).
Lately, (and actually what was my original thought in writing this entry BEFORE my introduction took shape) I’ve been thinking about Hebrews 12:1-2. When I read of being “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” I can’t help but think of my church and my family. In my church, I’m grateful in how the Lord has used the late Pastor Steve the way He has in my life, always pointing us to Christ. I’m also blessed in how He continues to use Pastor Phil to carry on this task, shepherding the Lord’s flock. There are also so many great brothers and sisters in the church body that have been such a blessing and encouragement to me. With my immediate family, they have all been such a blessing in their own unique ways, whether I’ve told them or not. Not only that, but my brother Daniel is the youth pastor for our church. In addition to this, my brother Andrew was just recently nominated as the new associate pastor.
What a great cloud of witnesses, indeed.
I can’t help but look at this and think to myself “what am I doing with my life?” Here are two brothers, in the Lord and by blood, who have given up on what would be considered as successful careers to the world and have taken up Christ, serving Him full-time. One had left from his position for a biotech company, and the other is preparing to do the exact same thing from an important position at a different biotech company. Both were making significantly more than they are (or soon will be) paid as a pastor, but they accepted it without hesitation. The Lord has blessed them in the paths they have taken leading to this role, has orchestrated everything perfectly in preparing them in their new positions, and continues to sustain them even now.
I can’t help but view this as God challenging me to serve Him in some way.
Lord, what will You have of me?
I don’t know where He will lead me, but wherever that is, I pray that He will reveal it to me and make it evident. I doubt I’m pastor material, but I pray that I can be of some use to Him and will bring Him glory in whatever I do.
Here I am, Lord. Send me. (Isaiah 6:8)
I don’t need the success of the world. My success will be to serve Him.