Posts Tagged ‘Love’

This week has been extremely tough for me and a few of my friends.  It’s as though all of us have hit a moment in life where we’re all trying to reexamine our place in the world, and trying to understand what it is that we are supposed to be doing right now.  Speaking for myself, my heart and mind have been in this state of realism that shocks even me, because I recognize that I have absolutely no clue what my purpose is anymore.  I have no clue what path I’m supposed to take, which direction I’m going in, and I can’t make heads or tails of anything.  I feel like I know what I’m supposed to do in life, and I have a plan for myself and my family.  But to be completely honest, the plan is failing, and I don’t know what to do about it.

I’ve been searching Scriptures, trying to regain focus and understand the concepts of True Calling, Preordination, Predestination, and Divine Will, and in doing so, the first thing I recognized is that my thoughts are not God’s thoughts, nor are my ways His either (Isaiah 55:8-9).  Now, naturally, that doesn’t make not knowing my purpose any easier, because by not knowing God’s thoughts, I don’t know what His plans are for me.  And it makes me all the more uncomfortable, because in this state of fearfulness and uneasiness, it would make me feel a whole lot better if I just knew what in the world I’m supposed to be doing.

Many times, we are just like that, when we’re in limbo, and we don’t know what turn to make at the crossroads of life.  Not knowing what job offer to take, or not knowing who to trust, or not knowing whether to go back to school, or whether to quit one job in an effort to live a more fulfilling life.  And not knowing whether we will succeed or fail makes the apprehension that much more unbearable.

So I asked God, “What am I doing here?  What am I supposed to be doing?  With everything I do now, and everything you’ve given me to do, all this talent, all these gifts, why do I feel like I’m not where I’m supposed to be?  Why do I still feel as though my heart is unfulfilled, and I’m unhappy, unsuccessful, and I have nothing to show for the work I have done?  Why do I feel like I’m still in the basement after all these years, not having moved up a single floor?  Why does it feel like the harder I work, the further down I go?  What is my purpose?  What is my true calling?”

God’s response:  “Love me with your whole heart, serve me with your life, let go of your idols.  I want it all.”

God opened my eyes and helped me to see through faith that my true calling, my purpose, is not linked in performing a single set of tasks for the rest of my life.  It isn’t about finding something to do on a daily basis that will satisfy my insatiable appetite for purpose on Earth.  Rather, my purpose, the purpose God has called me for, is simply to follow Him.

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” Matthew 16:24-27

Many times, I have been trying to find something that will fulfill my heart, make me happy, satisfy myself, and all the while, God has been constantly trying to show me that it is not about me, but it is all about HIM and what He needs me for as it pertains to HIS purpose, and not my own.  It does not matter if I find my purpose in life, for if I try to find my purpose in life, what happens when that purpose becomes boring, unsatisfying, not enough, or even too much to bear, and I restart the process of trying to “find my purpose” all over again?  Instead of being so concerned about finding a purpose on the Earth that will satisfy my flesh, I must concern myself with aligning my life according to His purpose.  His purpose for my life is to “diligently seek Him.”

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Matthew 6:33

My purpose, our purpose, is simply to have a relationship with God.  That is our purpose here on this Earth, to have a relationship with Him.  Because through our relationship with God, with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, we then begin to understand that God’s love is strong enough to carry us through these times of uncertainty, times in which we don’t know what’s going to happen to us, or what our earthly purpose is.  We can trust in God to lead us in the right direction, even if we can’t see where he’s leading us, because:

” Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you;”  Jeremiah 1:5

Before my mother and father even thought of using their bodies as a means of physical satisfaction to create me, God knew how I would be created, and what I would be created for, and I can take pride in knowing that I have a Father in Heaven who knew me well before my earthly parents thought about my very existence 5-6 months after conception.  In light of this, furthermore,

” The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.”  Psalm 37:23-24

So I know that as long as I am in relationship with God, and I trust Him to never leave nor forsake me, then my steps, though the clouds hang low and the path seems foggy, will always lead me into my purpose, no matter what I believe may be happening to me.  I don’t have to fret about trying to figure out what my life is all about, what I’m supposed to be doing, or whether I’m on the right path.  As long as I’m in relationship with God, He will always make me fully aware of my purpose, and what I’m supposed to be doing so that His Will, not mine, can be done.  Serving God is my purpose, for He will always make sure that I stay aligned with Him as long as I seek after Him.  And though mistakes and mishaps may happen, I can rest, assured that:

” And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”  Romans 8:28-30

Everything that has happened in my life and is happening in my life is happening because, so long as I am in good standing with God in terms of my relationship to Him, everything is working out for my good.  God will not allow me to fall out of His purpose, because everything that happens to me, even the very thoughts I have, are in direct correlation to His purpose.  So I do not have to be discouraged when I see that my life is not where I would want it to be, or that things just don’t seem in place.  As long as I am staying close to God, He will lead me in the right direction, and in doing so, show me daily what He wants me to do for Him.

Now, having said all of this, it still leaves me wondering, “How do I know that I am operating in God’s purpose, His true calling?”  The way God has given it to me is that His calling for my life is to Love Him, and I love Him by doing what He wants me to do.  What He wants me to do for Him is linked to the gifts, talents, skills, and characteristics He has blessed me with.  So how will I know that it is time for me to utilize a specific gift?  Because the opportunity to utilize that gift will present itself, and when it does, it will be up to me to RECOGNIZE it, and GO FORTH.  Many times we waste time seeking after “our purpose,” when it simply may not be time for us to utilize the gift God has given us to fulfill His purpose through us.  That’s why it’s so important to seek God and stay in communion with Him, because when He is ready to utilize us, not only will He tell us, He will ignite the “purpose” in our hearts, equip us (or already have equipped us) with the tools to do it, provide us with the necessary provisions to fulfill it, and navigate our steps so that His purpose is fulfilled.

Our purpose is to follow Christ.  That’s it!  It may seem strange to think about it this way, but that is ABSOLUTELY it, for by setting our sights and hearts on things above, God makes everything else aligned with His purpose prosper.  It’s time for us to stop looking so diligently for a purpose to call our own and to live to the calling that has been placed in our lives since before the world was framed.  Our purpose is to follow Christ, to love God, and to serve one another.  In doing that, our purpose will be fulfilled.

As I was looking for spiritual guidance on the posting “As I Watch the World Burn,” I looked up Matthew 5:45, which states,

that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Knowing what I know about exegesis and context, I read further to ensure that Jesus was trying to say to the people that, because it “rains on the just and on the unjust,” good people have to sometimes suffer with the bad.  As the context reads, then (Matthew 5:43-48):

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor[g] and hate your enemy.’  44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,[h]45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren[i] only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors[j] do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

God revealed to me that for over a decade and a half, I have misinterpreted His Word to mean that good people have to suffer with bad people sometimes because it “rains on the just and on the unjust.”  In reality, Jesus was illustrating to His people back then, and today, that we are to unconditionally love all people, the good and the bad because God Himself loves all people, and demonstrates this unconditional love by allowing His “sun [to] rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust,” two of His precious blessings that allow all of us, all of mankind, to exist on the planet.  If God could love us that much, even when we don’t deserve His love, then how much more should be expected of us, we who don’t have the right to judge anyone for any deeds good or bad?

It alarms me to know that so many of the past doctrines I have been taught have been based on misinterpretations of what Jesus was saying to His people, or what God is saying to us today through the texts.  Yes, it is true that sometimes, though we may be innocent, must suffer along with the guilty for whatever reason, like if I’m hanging with my fellas while they rob a store, and I get locked up though I knew nothing about the robbery and did not participate in it.  But the Scriptural reference of Matthew 5:45, as it relates to the context from which the Word was spoken, does not directly justify the reason for it.  Yes, it does rain on the just as well as the unjust, but not because we as the faithful have to suffer with the faithless.  Rather, His sun shines on us all, and He sends rain to us all, because despite the disparity between the faithful and the faithless, God has enough love within Himself to cover us ALL.

Having been revealed this, I pose this question to you.  Are there any direct Scriptural references (those that can be exegied) that correlate to the “good suffering with the bad?”  If so, what are they?  I can infer all day long that Matthew 5:45 implies that God’s love is unbiased, just as His wrath is unbiased (hence, Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, Health Insurance, etc.).  But if it is God’s Will, I would like to have something tangible that I can see within His Word.

😀

This past Mother’s Day weekend was probably one of the hardest Mother’s Days I’ve ever had to endure as I watched the tears fall from my mother’s face.  My siblings and I were on program to sing for the dinner held at the church, and my brother, because of a heated debate about having to “pay to sing,” left the engagement before it even started.  My mother, in a mad scramble, tried to get him to come back, but that attempt failed, and as the program began, my mother sat in her seat, tears rolling from her eyes as if someone had stabbed her in the chest.  I thought she was crying because she missed her grandmother, and it made it difficult a little bit to sing “A Song for Mama” by Boyz II Men watching her bawl. However, we managed (my sister and I) to get through the song without a hiccup, and the program rolled on.  It was later that I found out that my mother was crying because she felt as if neither my brother nor myself wanted to really be there to spend time with her, despite the fact that this Mother’s Day Dinner was a church-sponsored event, AND my mother is the “Pastor’s Wife,” making her the undeclared mother to everyone in the church.  My heart sank to the center of the Earth, and I’ve had a hard time bringing it back to the surface, because for the first time, my mother, as strong, calculated, and nearly emotion-less as she is with me, demonstrated vulnerability and weakness as it relates to our relationship to her IN THE CHURCH, and it has been bothering my heart ever since.

As a P.K. (Pastor’s Kid), I’ve had to learn how to give my emotions a backseat when my mother and father are in the “roles” of Pastor and Wife at the church.  I’m usually the last person to get a hug from my mom, or to be able to talk to her about what I’m going through, or to get an encouraging word from her, or even to say hi, not because she doesn’t want to, but most of the time, she can’t.  She’s helping others get through their issues, giving out hugs after service to every single person who has lined up just to say “hi” and “I love you.”  She’s going to the hospitals at 2 AM to pray for others, and rallying people together for meetings and prayer and such.  And as she is doing all these things, I’m usually just sitting in the background, hoping to get the chance to be like everyone else and say hi not to the “First Lady” or to the “Pastor’s Wife,” but to MY MOTHER.  As a result, I’ve learned to shut my emotions toward my mother down while at church or during church functions so that in case I don’t get the chance to speak to my mother on Sunday, or on Wednesday, or on any other day at church, I don’t get crushed.  After all, I still get to see her on other days and speak, laugh, have a good time, and all that mushy stuff.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten used to it and learned to enjoy the time I do get to have with her, and to allow others to enjoy the time they have with her, for she’ll always be my mother no matter what.

So whem my sister told me what my mother said about the dinner, I found myself rethinking my position as a son and a P.K. at while at the church, because I truly had gotten past looking at my mother as my mother at church to make room for others to be with my mom as the “First Lady.”  I never looked at church being another opportunity to “hang out” with my mama because it never dawned on me that possibly, my mama sees church as a way to hang out with me.  I never imagined that maybe being at church, going to church activities, fellowshipping with the saints, and praying together could be my mom’s way of spending time with me, my wife, and my kid.  It bothered my spirit because it almost felt like a double edged sword cutting me both ways.  When I shut down and treat church functions as church functions, being emotionless as I can be so that my feelings don’t get hurt when I can’t be a son and my mother can’t be my mother, I get gut-checked because my mother wants to spend time with me; but when I want my mother to be my mother at church, I get gut-checked because she’s being a mother to about 2-300 people and does not have time for me.

Being a P.K. is hard sometimes.  But I am grateful to God that I do have a mother that I can sing to, and say hi to, and hug every now and then, and talk to, and hang out with.  Regardless of the occasion, make the time to be there for the ones you love, as I swallowed my pride and stayed at the dinner and kicked it with my mama for a little while.  We never know when we have seen our loved ones for the last time, so make each moment count.  Even as a P.K., I’m still a son, my Pastor is still my dad, and his Wife is still my mama.  And as long as time allows, I’ll love them with all I have in me, and I’ll wait my turn to be a son while the Pastor and Wife tends to the needs of the people, knowing that at the end of the day, we will always return to each other as family.

I recently came out of a Sunday service feeling as though my soul had not been moved by anything put out during the service.  And it wasn’t the first time that I had felt that way, more like the 4th or 5th time straight.  The songs weren’t doing it, the prayers weren’t uplifting, and the message from the pastor seemed convoluted and all over the place, leaving me with more questions than answers, more doubt than inspiration.  I wondered to myself what’s really going on because service just did not feel the same way as it had in the past, and I do not like feeling as though I’m not getting filled when I go to church.

As I thought about the topic I wrote previously on in “What’s My Motivation,” I pondered if my worship was consistent, that I was in worship to God out of love and not out of habit or ritual, especially considering that things at my church have changed slightly, but not enough to say that the ritualism and traditionalism has shifted completely.  Still confused, God sent my brother and sister over to the crib to help me flesh this out.  And what God showed me humbled me so much that I wished I could take back everything I had thought about prior to the conversation we had, because I realized just how selfish I was.

God revealed to us that when I’m in a period of stagnation (where nothing good nor bad is happening, and worship to God APPEARS futile), it is not an opportunity to go searching for the next big FIX, that next big HIGH, or that next big, dare I say it, SPIRITUAL ORGASM in which I feel so alive in God.  Because when I go in search of a fix, I’m saying to God that my relationship with Him is not good enough or satisfying enough to wait on Him to move in my life and give me what I need and desire when the time is appropriate.  Every time I’ve hit a period of stagnation, I’ve always tried to cut and run to the next church, or the next choir, or the next thing, in search of a spiritual high that I should be able to have despite where I am, especially in a period of stagnation, where I have the opportunity to store up praises and thanksgiving to God in preparation for the eventual trial or trials to come.

But more importantly, while I’m in a period of stagnation, God revealed to me that OTHERS are in periods of spiritual highs, ah-ha’s, and inspiration all around me.  And as I considered this, I realized that while I wasn’t necessarily feeling the message or the worship service every now and then, other people in the church WERE.  They got the message they were supposed to receive, they got the miracle they needed from a song that was sung, and they got the inspiration they needed to move forward in God and in life.  So although the message wasn’t for me, or the song wasn’t for me, someone in the service got the message.  Someone got the inspiration from the songs and the prayers.  And because we are ONE BODY (1 Corinthians 12), when one person rejoices, all should rejoice.  Because we are ONE BODY, when one is inspired, all should be inspired.  Because we are ONE BODY, when one feels the move of the spirit, all should feel moved by the spirit, if nothing more than just because that person, who is part of the Body of Christ, felt the spirit.

I realized that I have been so selfish, saying that God must have not been in this place, or God is trying to shift and people aren’t getting it, or that change needs to happen or people need to get out of the way.  I realized that instead of having a selfish attitude, I need to be there to rejoice with those who are where they are in God, for that is the sign of spiritual maturity:  the ability to recognize where I am in God and where others are in God, and not judge them for where they are, but instead encourage us all to build upon where we are in God together.  Furthermore, I need to be patient enough to wait on others to see what God has shown me so that we can worship on the same level together, if that is God’s will.  Until then, I must be willing to worship with others, even when I can’t feel what they are feeling.  For as my siblings said to me, “It might just not be my Sunday to feel it.  It doesn’t mean I won’t feel moved the next Sunday.”

😀