We all have an innate desire to leave the world better than when you entered. Some people do this on a large scale through their work or earning big titles and important positions - but that’s not what I desire. Unlike these “large-scale” impacts, the only thing that’s won’t expire is the life-changing influence we can have on a person’s life. Because the reality is that, despite my accomplishments, in 4 years no one on this campus will know my name. 50 years after I die my distant family might remember me. Once a life has been touched, your mark can’t be erased and these lives that we touch have the potential to snowball an unmeasurable amount, for better or worse. My way of leaving the world a better place is through a relational investment in people’s lives - for the better. Instead of seeking illustrious, large-scale impacts I want people to experience me and walk away in some form a better person. And I want that to exponentially grow so they can in turn positively impact someone else.
Why would I invest my life in something with an expiration date?
You’re not going to want to deal with it when you wake up every morning. I am fully aware that there will be many times in my marriage when I roll over in the morning and look at my obnoxiously-snoring, eventually middle aged, and at some point balding husband (whoever this lucky fool is…) and I’m not going to want to deal with it. But I know I’ll be reminded of a promise. A promise I made, the rings we exchanged, a white dress of purity, and love raining from my husband, family, and friends.
But I’ve already been a bride. I am a bride. I am the bride of Christ. There are morning I wake up and roll over and think of the prospect of spending time with the Lord and I don’t want to deal with it. It’s like I’m looking at my husband 25 years into my marriage. I’m not excited. But as a bride, I made a promise. Christianity isn’t an obligation, or a relationship, it’s a marriage. It’s persevering every day even when you don’t want to, and afterwards being thankful you did because you’re reminded of why you fell in love in the first place.
“Our goal isn’t success, popularity, or personal fulfillment. It’s anticipating - by God’s grace and for the glory of Jesus Christ - that we’ll hear on the last day, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21,23). And that’s a greater reward than anything this world could ever offer.”—Bob Kauflin
"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it” [Isaiah 30:15]
And it’s true, Jesus. I would have none of it. I would have none of the rest He offers me, none of the quietness. I run around every day with a to-do list longer than Santa’s list of Christmas deliveries. I go to bed every night at 1:30 AM while the list seems to grow exponentially as my body obligates me to sleep. I preach that I have salvation, but I do not permit myself to have the rest that should accompany it. Even my “quiet”time is on a strict watch. And why? Why do I deny heavenly peace from the Father who is Alpha and Omega, beyond time, spoke everything into being, and forgave me? I am restless for the Kingdom - to be with Him - yet I want no rest.
I am in the process of a lifestyle change. I am eliminating the things that have no value in His kingdom and allowing myself to have holy rest. No more various leadership positions that satisfy only me and not my God. I will have to be constantly in prayer to see what has value, because I believe it’s relative to the Lord’s calling on each of our lives. But I am minimizing to allow myself to rest.
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”—Steve Jobs
I am flawed and so incredibly broken. But me saying this as a follower of Christ probably doesn’t surprise you because our sinful nature is a pillar of Christianity. However, I’m not saying these words because I feel obligated because of my faith, but because in the past few months I have felt the pain of my flaws more than ever. I am a self-righteous Pharisee. I am the very thing that Jesus hated.
"Everything they do is for men to see: …they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplace and to have men call them ‘Rabbi’ …Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence …You snakes! You brood of vipers!" [Matthew 23]
I missed the “big” sins that majority of people my age indulge in. Drinking-Sex-Drugs-even Profanity. Even before I was a Christian I was the kind of girl my friends’ parents would ask them to hang out with. And I had a passion for the Lord that I would proclaim at any moment. I had heart knowledge that I Ioved to be recognized for. Because of this it appeared to everyone around me and myself that I was collected. And I exalted myself to a high place. I was “pure”, “unflawed”, an active follower of Christ, and I would think to myself “what an asset I am to the Kingdom.”
Now I see that I had cleaned the outside of the cup. But what about the inside?
It took a while to realize that reading these verses was like looking into a mirror. The problem with self-righteousness is that you think you’re flawless, so coming to terms with your flaws is an enormous feat. After coming to college and playing the role of a composed Christian but not spending time with the Father on my own - a Pharisee. I realized that something was terribly wrong becuase I could feel it in the pressures of my new life, friendships, everything. Everything that should be easy with the Lord. And I broke.
And the inside of the cup began to be cleansed.
Because of the internal nature of my sin, it’s difficult to monitor. I won’t even realize I’m slipping back into the place of a Pharisee until I’ve fallen to far and I begin hurt. It takes an unfeasible amount of self-control that can only come from the Lord. Therefore, I thought my sin was going to be a lifelong burden for me to bear. But let me share with you what God has taught me lately.
He gave us battles, not burden.
He says “My yoke is easy and My burden is light” and to “Caste all our burdens oh Him because he cares for us.” Our worldly burdens were designed to be surrendered, impermanent, fleeting. They are not meant to be timeless charge. However, our troubles are battles that a meant to be won. God equips us to win each and every battle against Satan. It’s in His word - the belt of Truth, breastplate of righteousness, readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace, shield of faith, helmet of Salvation, and (our only offensive weapon) the sword of the Spirit. [Ephesians 6: 13-17]
I want to encourage you to be overcome with Joy that each and every struggle of this world can be overcome in the most epic battle of all time that’s raging inside each of us. Praise Him who gave us battles, and nailed our burden to the cross.
Which is better? For or with? God has captured my heart with this question over the past week.
In Luke 10: 38 - 42 Jesus paints a picture that is so prevalent to our lives, yet we (or at least I) refuse to see it. Martha runs around frantically preparing for Jesus, while Mary sits at His feet, dripping off of every word uttered from His precious lips of Life. And Martha, as many of us would say rightfully so, basically asks Jesus “Seriously? You’re really going to let her sit there while I do all the work?”
"Seriously, I have to do all the work again?" "Seriously?" I ask God this way too much. I run around just like Martha. Unfortunately, I can easily find my identity in her. Class-Study-Chapter-Freshman Forum-Study-Sleep-Class-Study-ugaMIRACLE-Study-Sleep-Class-Wesley-Study-Sleep-Class-Social-Sleep-Class-Weekend-Breathe. And I claim that it’s all for Jesus. I cry the same prayer as Martha when I mutely call out to Him “Jesus, look at all the work I’m doing for Your Kingdom!” “Father, look how much glory I bring You when I do all this for You in Your name!” “Daddy, daddy, daddy! Look at me! Don’t You love me?” I imagine it’s as if I saw my biological father for this first time in years and to welcome him back I decided baked him his favorite cookies, and then made a plate of nachos and invited all his friends over to watch the game, then did his laundry, then painted him a picture, and so on. Eventually my dad would say “Enough! I just want to be with You, my daughter.” And that’s exactly what Jesus does. He says “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it won’t be taken away from her.” “Jordan, Jordan,” Jesus says, “I want to be with you.” Imagine Him crying Your name, begging you to step away from the world and simply be with Him. He delights when we spend time with Him. Like a middle school girl when her crush acknowledges her.
Jesus says “Many things people do in my name have no value in my Kingdom.”
I’m done with the “for"s. I refuse to find my identity in Martha. I want to be with Jesus. I want to chose what is better. I will no longer justify over-extending myself by saying “it’s for the Lord.” I want to be with God in everything I do, and the for will come naturally in time.