Tuesday, December 18, 2012

So Others May Live

I just got done watching The Guardian. It was not the first time I saw it, nor will it be the last. Something about this film just keeps bringing me back.

The movie centers on the journeys of two U.S. Coast Guard swimmers; one is a rookie and the other a veteran. They each have their respective pasts to wrestle with as they quite literally navigate the storms of life.

At the end of the final scene, before the credits roll (don't worry, no spoilers here), the screen fades and the U.S. Coast Guard motto appears: "So others may live."

Wait, what? Excuse me while I go pull my heart out of my throat.

Four simple words. It's what Jesus did. And calls us to do.

In Mark 10:45, Jesus told his disciples, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

I like the "even" in that sentence. It's almost as if it's there to say "Look, the Son of God himself--he who is above all earthly power and any authority ever invented...yeah, him--even he came to earth for this specific purpose. So others may live."

And then there's me...cozy in my own little world, possessing not even a fraction of the glory of Jesus, doing very little so others may live. In fact, I spend more time convincing myself that I live for others than doing just that.

All of this should bring me yet again to the foot of the cross. Where I say yet again that I don't get it. And have to beg yet again for more grace to live out a life that is not about me.

I know the ultimate Life-Giver, hold His truth in my hands. How can I possibly continue with this life of thoughtful text messages and Bible verse Tweets while my friends are dying around me?

Coast Guard rescue swimmers can't save people at arm's length. They have to get in the water with them. Like Jesus did.  

I have so much to learn.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I Apologize if This Post Reaks of Bitterness

Something has been bothering me lately. Being the restless perfectionist who needs an answer for everything, I kept wrestling with it but could never put my thoughts into words. Until yesterday.

God has blessed me with a wonderful mother who regularly speaks truth into my life. While we were baking Christmas cookies yesterday, I told her what was on my mind.

"I'm so tired of the Christian world telling me that as soon as I am content, God will send me a man. It makes me mad. I don't think that's how it works."

She was confused, so I added, "You can't tell me that on the day we are born, God chooses 'the one' and we spend the rest of our lives waiting for that destiny. I think He knows who we will marry, but I don't think it's a magical dream scheme like that."

Maybe you can share in my frustration. Regardless of your gender, you might be mad too. Why? Because we've been lied to. By the world and by well-meaning Christians. A resounding sentiment is that somewhere out there, your soulmate waits. If you follow the world's agenda, you have to do anything and everything to find them. If you are a Christian, it depends on if you are a male or a female.

If you are a male, you pray and God magically leads you to 'the one.' A little bit of constructive wife-shopping at area churches or college ministries doesn't hurt. (If there are any potlucks where you can sample some of her cooking, all the better.) If you are female, you simply have to run around pretending to be content with your singleness. As soon as that happens, Mr. Right walks in.

LIES. Oh, so many lies. And I've believed them.

But my mom helped me process the truth I was fighting to verbalize. Somewhere in the midst of all that well-intended advice for singles, we lost sight of the best advice out there: We need to worship God for God.

I think that I am not alone when I say that I have sought Him for things other than Himself. At times, I have worshipped Jesus for the sole purpose of Him dumping buckets of fairy blessings upon my aching soul. I have read Jeremiah 29:11. Memorized it. Bought the bracelet. "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future.'" That is a beautiful verse. But somewhere along the way, I took those words too far and turned worshipping God into worshipping his plan for my life. Instead of seeking his face, I sought the blessings I thought he promised me as part of his plan.

That, my dear friends, is idolatry. And it didn't hit me until yesterday. This whole dilemma with singleness and marriage isn't so much about contentment with God's plan. It's about how I treat His plan.

I've been told my whole life (truthfully) that God has a wonderful plan for me. He does. But the point isn't his plan. The point isn't me. The point is Jesus.

God says that he blots out our transgressions for his own sake (Isaiah 43:25). His biggest plan involves the salvation of the world. But even that isn't for us. He doesn't save us for us. He saves us for his own sake. God saves us for God.       

So at the end of the day, I don't need to worry if I am being content enough in my singleness. I don't even have to worry about Jesus' plan for my life. I simply need to sit at his feet and worship Him for who He is.

Worship God, not his plan.