This blog is one part an effort to relay my experiences here through updates and pictures and two parts an outpouring of the lessons God is teaching me in taking up my cross daily and following Him.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Response To John's (Facebook) Note: "Hey, It's Not All About You!"

For those who have not read John's note already, it can be found here:

     One thing that I have found is that when I really start to get down and think of/miss Daniel a lot, I realize that in this type of self-pity I am being selfish. It is pride and selfishness that tell us that somehow we don't deserve to have to deal with our brother dying, or to question that God really knew what He was doing and that Daniel's death was an important part of His eternal plan. I've found that whenever I start to feel sad about missing Daniel, it's because I'm focused on how it affects ME negatively.

     I've been reading Job lately. I enjoyed this read through so much more than others in the past, because I identified with Job in a much greater way. Yes, Job lost way more than I did--I lost my brother. Job lost everything he owned AND his ten children within a span of about 10 minutes. In some sense I feel that my situation doesn't begin to compare, yet I began to understand the thoughts of Job in a more personal way. I was struck not only by the way his three friends (Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite) treated him, but I noticed how Job's attitude toward God changes. Job somehow progresses from Chapter 2, verse 10b that says, "Yet in all this Job did not sin with his lips." to in chapter 34, verses 5-6 Elihu quotes Job as saying, "I am in the right, and God has taken away my right; in spite of my right I am counted a liar; my wound is incurable, though I am without transgression."Somewhere in the course of events, Job began to question God. His perspective of God and his relationship to Him had somehow changed.

     I love the response of Elihu. He is younger. He waits until the older men have tried and failed, and tried and failed again to tell Job what He was doing wrong. Elihu is younger, so he gives precedence to his elders, but when they fail to produce Godly wisdom, he steps in. I want to be like Elihu in that God certainly gave him wisdom and an exemplary understanding of who God is, and who we are! I want to share a couple selections from Elihu's words:
     "Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding: far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong. For according to the work of a man he will repay him, and according to his ways he will make it befall him. Of a truth, God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice. Who gave him charge over the earth, and who laid on him the whole world? If he should set his heart to it and gather to himself his spirit and his breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust." Job 34:10-15
     "Look at the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds, which are higher than you. If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against him? And if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to him? If you are righteous, what do you give to him? Or what does he receive from your hand? Your wickedness concerns a man like yourself, and your righteousness a son of man." Job 35:5-8

     Elihu has a proper understanding of his place before God. If God so much as stopped willing us to exist, we would cease! If we sin, we tend to see it as some huge grievance against God. It's NOT! Our sin separates us from God, certainly! But it's not like our sin just ruined God's plan, or really affects Him at all! Yes, our sin damages our relationship to Him, but it's not like I just ruined His day! Nothing we can do can take away anything from God in the same way that we have nothing to offer to God. We cannot add to him or somehow improve His cause by laboring for Him. God is perfect. He is so far above us and beyond our comprehension. We cannot injure Him or promote Him in anyway. He can glorify Himself infinitely more than we can even think we might be able to! I like a comment later in chapter 36 (verse 26a) which says, "Behold, God is great, and we know him not!" It's so uncommon for Christians to think this way, but the truth of the matter is, the only one who really benefits from our serving God, or is injured in our sinning against Him, is ourselves! We like to think that somehow we're doing God a favor if we devote our lives to serving Him, but really it's a privilege that He has even given us the opportunity!

     So, John, the point is this: we can be selfish, if we want, but the one that we're really hurting the most in doing that is ourselves. Yes, it can hurt others, too, but the person we hurt the most, whether we not it or not, I would argue is ourselves.

     I have found that the best remedy to selfishness is service. Serving others not out of selfishness (because service really can be selfishness in disguise), but out of the love of God. Serving God is what gives us joy, because serving God is what we were made for! (The term "serving" here does sound like it is something that benefits God, and perhaps it is not the best term, but it is the term we're used to. By "serving God" I mean: Living in communion with God, seeking to follow His every direction for my life, not because God is "looking out for me" seeking to provide me with everything that I could ever want, but because God is using me for His glory, which is, ultimately, the best thing for my life-whether it feels like it at the time, or not!

     So, when I think of how I miss Daniel, or start feeling sad about not having him in my life anymore, I think of A) how selfish it is of my to wish that Daniel were in my presence instead of the presence of God, His maker! B) that even if I don't understand it, who am I to question God's plan. Daniel's death was clearly a part of that plan, and though I don't understand it, I know that it is best-for Daniel, for his family, for his friends, for me, and simply it was/is the way that God chose to be glorified in this circumstance. and C) instead of feeling sad or sorry for myself, my focus needs to be on living my life to the fullest in seeking to glorify God through my own life. Namely this comes through seeking to serve others through love as we seek to be a more accurate reflection Christ to them in their life.

     John: I have shared a few thoughts that I think fit in and are very important, but in reality, this was a very long response to say that I think you're conclusion is correct. To paraphrase your conclusion in a way that I think emphasizes the true remedy (Christ) more than the result (loving others) I would say: The remedy to selfishness is to abide in Christ, allowing your life to be an outpouring of Christ's love to others through service. You are right, it's not all about you--it's not about you at all! Not even a tiny bit! It's only about God and His plan!

Good thoughts. I just wanted to share my own and expound on them a little. Keep seeking to live your life for Him. I'm glad to see that you are learning and growing in Him each day. This is our only worthwhile pursuit!