Tuesday, September 17, 2013

'Think of what you were when...'

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (NIV)

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Having grown up in the church and made the typical evolution of faith from what Sunday school taught me to what I came to see and claim in my own life, it’s not easy to think of precisely what I was when I was called to become a follower and believer. Though I am certain I was indeed not wise or influential, and certainly not of noble birth. (And yes, there is something akin to noble birth in this country, though it does not technically relate to nobility or monarchy, but we’ll file that under a different discussion for a different day.)

I have a far more clear picture of when I felt called to be a parent, clear enough I am certain I was not wise about what it took to be a father or in any way influential in that department. Not that I was especially wise or influential in any arena, but this calling came before I was married — actually before I met the woman who would become my wife. I had an overwhelming feeling I wanted to be a husband and a dad (which I realize are not exactly revolutionary sentiments) but knew I would have to incorporate both roles into my life in faith.

Yes, plenty of people can and do get married and have kids outside of an active belief in God. But it wasn’t going to be that way with me. And so far, nothing in my life has made me regret walking the path I felt called to follow. Neither have I felt I was alone in the journey. These are very good things I find myself unable to fully quantify or explain to others. “You know it when you feel it” is not quite an irreproachable thesis. But some days it’s the best I’ve got.

I should point out that as it relates to parenting and marriage, I’m not considering it my place to shame the strong or nullify anyone else. As I’ve written several times, parenting is not a competition, and we would all be better off to offer support to others trying their best to raise kids. Too many times people put so much emphasis on what may or may not be best for a given child, not their own, thus obscuring the fact they’re deeply hurting a parent who is sincerely trying to give every ounce they have to their son or daughter. And what good does that do anyone? Where is it that Jesus teaches us to meddle in other people’s families?

I’m probably off topic. This is not surprising given my current state of mind pretty directly reflects the ongoing condition of our house, with very little in its actual place and so much to do it’s impossible to know where to start. What I’m trying to remember tonight is how much of what I am is made possible through God and hopefully for God. That while I might have been able to accomplish certain things outside of faith, my life and specifically my relationships with my wife and our children are immeasurably enriched because I feel God’s constant, guiding influence.

That might not be helpful to anyone who might read this, but it’s an honest account of the way I see the world. And it’s most certainly not boasting, unless it’s boastful to say I feel loved by something larger than myself. There’s no shame in that.

A prayer for September 17:

Lord, I need to thank you each day not just for the blessing of marriage and parenthood but for making it so clear to me that stepping into these roles would bring me a sense of fulfillment unequal to anything else I’ve experienced. I try not to take for granted the connection between feeling your call and then being able to pursue that summons. Help me to be respectful of other people who feel pulled in their own directions and to remember to always be open to the ways you might want me to use me and my life. Amen.

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