My friend Jennifer Moore had an e-mail address BigDream@ispname.com. If she were asked the question, she would have any number of answers. And then I have a friend Steve Hammond who has planted a church with a desire to change the culture. He lives his life as if everything he does cannot fail and will accomplish something great. I used to look people like these friends and compare myself to them which only caused me to feel like a failure.
The deepest desire of my heart is to have Jesus look at my life and smile...to make him proud of me. I used to think he could not be proud of me because I must be lazy or lack vision or ambition. One of the biggest examples of somebody I was NOT like was the Apostle Paul.
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11, NIV)
As I was thinking about this during the week last week, I remembered that the Apostle Paul also wrote these words:
...We put no confidence in human effort. Instead we boast about what Christ Jesus has done for us. Yet I could have confidence in myself if anyone could. If others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! For I was circumcised when I was eight days old, having been born into a pure-blooded Jewish family that is a branch of the tribe of Benjamin. So I am a real Jew if there ever was one! What's more, I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. And zealous? Yes, in fact, I harshly persecuted the church. And I obeyed the Jewish law so carefully that I was never accused of any fault. (Philippians 3:3b-6, NLT)
Paul was zealous even before Christ because that is how God created him...it is the heart, personality and gifts God gave him. Before Christ, he used them in the wrong way. After Christ, he became a zealot for Christ. I was relieved to realize that although I should always be challenged to be more passionate for Christ, my passion does not have to look like Paul's because God did not make me the same way he did Paul.
And God did not create me like a Jennifer Moore or a Steve Hammond, either. Once I could realize my attempt at something did not have to look like somebody else's, I could truly search my heart and find something great to attempt. And when I did this, I found I was already attempting something great. I am attempting to make (good and happy) lasting memories for my family so that my wife's life will be richer and my daughter can grow up to reach the full potential God has for her.
To some, that may not seem very grandiose. But stop and think for a minute. What if every parent in the world had that same goal/desire in life? For one thing, kids would not grow up feeling unloved. For another, schools (both public and private) would be more effective and safer places of education because parents would be involved. Crime rates would be lower because kids would be with their families more. The divorce rate would be lower because parents would be thinking about somebody besides themselves (some people think only about themselves, others are the victims of those who think this way) and maybe the moral vacuum wouldn't be so great in this country because values are passed on when families spend time together. I cannot make every kid in the world feel loved, I cannot do homework with everybody's kid, I cannot pick up every kid from school and spend time with them so they do not join a gang, and I cannot keep every marriage in America together...but I can do those things for my family. I'm spending time with my wife and daughter...and I am making lasting memories. I am making a difference in the life of my wife, my daughter and generations to come through my daughter's family. I am changing the world...at least the part I can influence. To me, that is something great.
So in my attempt to make a difference, to make Jesus smile and to build lasting memories with my family, I must sign off for now. It's almost time to go make another memory today. Amanda doesn't know it yet, but we are going to the circus in less than an hour. We're going with tickets another friend gave us. You don't have to be rich to accomplish great (i.e. important) things..I'm using free circus tickets to make a lasting memory with my family.
(to be continued)