In My Life

10/27/2011

 

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.Mark 8:35

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Some years ago I noticed that the same scene was replaying itself over and over: a tearful celebrity standing at a podium or sitting next to a talk-show host and talking about how he or she was trying to pull it together. Names, designer clothes and hairstyles were different, but one phrase seemed common to all of them: “in my life.” As in, “I’ve been trying to find some happiness in my life,” or, “I realized that I wasn’t feeling good about what’s going on in my life,” and so on.

I shared this observation with my family and it’s become a running joke. I will ask one of my daughters to do the dishes and she will emotionally proclaim, “It’s hard sometimes in my life…to do dishes in my life!”We chuckle and the chore is successfully postponed by another minute or two.

Why was I so stuck on this phrase? Shouldn’t someone be able to say, “in my life,” without some middle-aged pastor turning it into a joke?

imageI thought about this phenomenon  in my life and came to a conclusion in my life: the phrase connotes an attention to self that makes me a little uncomfortable. For the kid raised with a focus on serving  others and putting their needs first, the person discussing  his or her own problems might be perceived as a little less caring—perhaps even selfish.

But hold on! It’s certainly not a bad thing for abuse victims or depression sufferers or grievers to take care of themselves, is it? Everybody deserves moments of happiness and the chance to heal. Thinking about this was getting me nowhere, like stepping on the gas while the car is in neutral. Lots of “revolutions per minute” but few “revelations per minute”.

This morning it finally hit me. The phrase is a lie!

You see, our lives are not our own.  Not on any level. For the Christian, your life clearly belongs to your Savior. You were bought with the blood of Christ and given new life. And, regardless of your theology, we as humans all belong to each other. The things you do affect everyone around you, whether you realize it or not. The system breaks down when it’s “every man for himself,” doesn’t it? Like looters during a riot—grabbing what we can, not caring whose stuff it is. It doesn’t work. Because of this philosophy, people are starving to death while there is plenty of food in the world. Ants don’t starve, do they? You will never see an ant on a talk show saying, “I realized (sniff) that I wasn’t achieving the goals in my life that made me happy in my life!”

There are wonderful counselors, therapists and pastors out there who can help you work through some of the things that are troubling you. They can help you identify the roadblocks. If you have been stuck in neutral for a while, it might be a good idea to pray and perhaps seek out someone trustworthy to help walk you through your difficulties.  It’s good to examine your life like a mechanic examines an engine—you might find a loose connection or a malfunctioning part that needs replaced. But the more that you think of your life as your own, the more problems you will run into. Do you know how the apostle Paul described his life apart from Christ? In historical context it’s not a very nice word in Greek so we’ll go with the King James rendition “dung” instead of the more gentle “rubbish.” (Philippians 3:8)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need more dung in my life. I need more Jesus in my life.  Because it’s not my life.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, today may I fully realize that I am yours and that my life does not belong to me—it belongs to you. I love you and want others to know this kind of love, too. Draw near to those who are hurting and lost. Give us the strength to let go of that little part of ourselves that we cling to, the part that makes us think we can make ourselves happy by our own will. Help us to find the true path to joy by loving You and serving others with glad hearts. In the name of God the Father, Christ the Son and the indwelling Spirit, Amen.

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Yet you refuse to come to me to have life – John 5:40

 

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There are 2 comments

Thank you Shawn. Nice job with the graphic...in my life!

kent
October 27, 2011 - 18:20

Pastor Kent, well said! I love the last paragraph before the prayer. It's sad that this is so applicable in my life.

Shawn
October 27, 2011 - 16:08
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