The other day, I found myself deep in conversation with a man who lives an incredibly humble life of servitude. He does this by choice, sowing most of his earnings into the lives of strangers—orphans! Rob works hard, purposely living small, so he can support the practical needs, dreams, and future of others.
When I gaze at this man, I see the heart of Jesus in the flesh. My selfishness becomes illuminated as I shrink in shame and overwhelm.
How and where do I begin becoming a bit more like Christ today? This is my question upon waking and the cry of my heart as I rest my head at night.
You see, I’ve grown up in church environments. I know the call to serve. From birth, I was trained to listen and obey as my thoughts and autonomy syphoned into a nebulous system of ‘higher purpose’.
Questions were frowned upon, and I learned life was easier when I just shut up. Deep down, I wanted God to be happy. From my young perspective, the approval of leadership was interconnected to the happiness of God.
In the name of peace, I quietly served. My needs and feelings didn’t matter to God. It was only what I did in service to Him or His people that mattered. This became an endless chasm that could never be filled which left me depleted and defeated, resenting God for creating me in such a way where simply being me was never enough.
I ran from God. And although I did my best, His love overcame me. In that crucial moment of turning back, I learned the God I was running from was very different from the One who was pursuing me. I had Him all wrong and I was excited to understand the One who was crazy enough to love and pursue such a flawed being.
It’s been over a decade since reuniting with Abba. I’ve also found myself back at church; the place were old feelings, memories and false ideas about God have resurfaced. Once again, I find myself in a culture where performance, servitude and the greater good is celebrated while personal autonomy is met with a hefty eyebrow raise.
I’m feeling the itch to run.
Since coming back to God, I’m in the process of learning to find my voice; what needs, gifts and desires I have and what my personal expression looks like in the body of Christ. I find myself struggling with thoughts of smothering all of that for the greater good. I’ve never fit into any box and the religious box is by far the most undesirable and uncomfortable one for me.
People like Rob beckon a deeper dig on what the life of Jesus truly teaches. Is a life fully lived for God about serving a church agenda? Or is God satisfied when we customize our gifts to His personal calling in our lives?
If God is not pleased, will we know? And how can we separate man’s disapproval with confidence in God’s final approval? These questions are my struggle as this journey with God doesn’t have a clear map.