Today in church pastor Lucas Cooper asked the question, “What’s your life mission?” The sermon went on to highlight the life mission of all Christians – to change the world one disciple at a time. (I’ll post our sermon notes on Lucas’s sermon within a few days.)
But when he opened up the sermon with the question of our life’s mission, he told us that our life mission is often wrapped up in what’s on our mind when there’s nothing else going on. In essence, when we’re vegging out with no pressing project, no distraction, and nothing we “have” to think of, what’s on our mind?
My marriage to Mark and my mothering to Mattison and Sophia occupy the most time. Then it’s my parents, my siblings, my extended family – by blood or by marriage. This is what I think about, care about, appreciate, analyze and try to fix when needed. I pray over them all. I’m my most happy when I’m spending time with these people that I love and care for.
And my priority on these relationships is based on Biblical principles – my marriage and relationship to Mark comes first and foremost in my family hierarchy. Then my relationship and responsibilities to my daughters. And so on and so forth.
So why have I been so convicted lately about the way I treasure these relationships? Why is it that I’ve been feeling like I’m doing something wrong?
Because I have!
I have made my marriage, my parenting, my family into an idol.This knowledge has been tugging at me for the past week or so. But today in church it finally clicked.
I know it is all from the Lord.
I thank God for these things everyday – literally everyday.
God has blessed me richly. I’ve been viewing my devotion to these things as a Godly response to being blessed. That I’m simply caring for the blessings He has provided.
That all sounds well and good – maybe even righteous. So what’s the problem?
The problem is HUGE. The problem is that I’ve shifted my thoughts and priorities. The problem is that I am breaking the 1st Commandment:
Somewhere along the line, I’ve cared SO much for my marriage and children that I have allowed the care and feeding of these relationships to take precedence over the care and feeding of my relationship with the Lord.
It’s not that I’ve ignored my relationship with Christ or haven’t been nurturing it. I have. Daily Bible reading, reading theology books, preparing for a weekly faith-based radio show, family Bible studies, the list goes on and on.
So it was easy for me to fail to see the problem.
But there was indeed a problem. I started to notice it but couldn’t quite put a finger on it. Something in my spirit wasn’t right. I felt “off.” Fear started to sneak in on me – which I didn’t like one bit.
Then I had a hormonal break down while Mark and I were on vacation in Cabo. All of this is so unlike me, and yet I felt like I couldn’t control it. That scared me even more.
I discovered that the fear and breakdown were from unresolved issues from my pre-Christ relationship with Mark. I took it all to God and worked through it. “Whew,” thought I. “Glad that’s over! Now let’s get back to marital and family bliss!”
Only there was still something in my spirit bothering me. Going through every mental checklist I could, I knew there was nothing unresolved bothering me. My husband is loving, forgiving, nurturing, Christ-centered and generous. My children are both in good places and finding themselves through Christ. My extended family members are (for the most part) healthy and happy. So why couldn’t I shake the feeling that something was wrong?
It had to be spiritual somehow. I just didn’t know what was off. So I squared my shoulders and decided to forget about it.
That seemed to be working just fine.
Then I turned to a new chapter in the book I’m currently reading, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. The new chapter was about Holy Justice. I found that I couldn’t put it down. What really stood out to me is that God’s justice SHOULD obliterate each of us. If we were to each receive justice, we would die for our sins. Period.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. “Umm. Jacki? Hello??? Isn’t that the whole point of Jesus!?!? You’re a Christian and that’s REALLY just now hitting you?”
Well – yeah. It is.
Because Sproul isn’t highlighting our eternal destination. He’s talking about our physical existence! That literally, our sin is cause for God to strike us dead on the spot. Period. That’s Holy justice.
The fact that He DOESN’T is Holy MERCY. None of us deserve mercy. Not one.
And for whatever reason, this is the first time I really pondered the scripture where God says, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Exodus 33:19, Romans 9:15)
That night I couldn’t sleep. I lie in bed praying – humbled and grateful that – for whatever reason – He has chosen to have Mercy on me. ON ME! Why, I have no idea.
And I was equally struck by this reality:
It can all go away in an instant if God wills it to.
For the first time in my life, I truly FELT what it means to fear the Lord.
A Holy and Mighty God who gives and takes away. He cares for us, but His care is deeper than we can understand. His care is NOT measured by our Earthly circumstances. His care is measured simply in that He has chosen us for salvation. All else is there to work together for HIS glory – to further HIS kingdom.
I fell to my knees, knowing that all I do on a daily basis to care for my husband, daughters, and family mean nothing. At least – not the way I’ve been viewing it. I’ve been caring for them with some sense that my actions will determine the outcome. Like my marriage is happy because I make it so, or that my daughters are thriving because I did something special.
No way. Not so.
My marriage is happy because God chooses to bless it. I need to do things to love on my husband BECAUSE I’m grateful TO GOD. NOT because I am trying to appease the God of Marital Bliss.
My daughters are Jesus-girls because God has chosen them. I need to guide them in learning God’s word and His ways BECAUSE I love JESUS. NOT because I’m supermom with the power to effect my children’s eternal destination.
So all of this stirred up a few short nights before Lucas Cooper’s question hit me, “What’s on your mind in the quiet moments?”
As I sat in the pew at Scottsdale Bible Church, something clicked inside of me. The truth of my situation came rushing at me as the events of the past couple of months flashed through my mind like a movie-montage. (I kid you not – I could almost hear a soundtrack playing.)
I realized the HEAVY weight of my predicament. Here I am, thinking I’m serving Jesus when really I’m breaking God’s number one rule.
If God were to bring me to court right now, I would be convicted. Guilty of idolatry. I’ve been doing all things for the good of my family – NOT doing all things as if unto the Lord.
It’s the wake up call I needed. It’s the spiritual adjustment that had to happen in order for God to take me to the next level in my service to Him.
Marriage and family are gifts from God. There are many scriptures that instruct us how to maintain these blessings in a Godly way. But don’t make the mistake I did. Don’t get so focused on maintaining the blessing from God that you forget to keep GOD FIRST!
I placed it all at the foot of the Cross.
I sacrificed the success, health, and happiness of my marriage, my daughters and my family to God. Not my will but HIS be done with these blessings.
Yes, I pray that God gives me the ability to care for these people – these blessings – in my life. But I also pray that they will never again get bigger than God Himself in my eyes.
And I thank Him every time the lie crosses my mind that I have to “do something” to make it all work. I thank Him that’s it’s not up to me. I thank Him that – for THIS moment – He chooses to grant me His mercy.