It’s a new year, so time for a New Year’s resolution post, right?! Sorry to disappoint.
There’s nothing wrong with New Year’s resolutions, but there are about a million other bloggers who have already written on that topic, so I’m going to pass.
2014 was a great year. It had its difficult moments – I definitely struggled when I first got here to not feel lost and alone in a sprawling city full of strangers. It took me a while to figure out where I fit in. But I’ve also been blessed beyond all measure – I have a ton of great memories and a wonderful group of people in my life.
I feel like 2014 was about fun. What I’m realizing now is that as a Christian, fun should not be the driving force in my life. The world will say that the pursuit of fun is the greatest endeavor, that life is just a roller coaster ride, and if you’re not having the time of your life, you’re doing it wrong. But as a Christian, my purpose in life is to live in a way that honors and glorifies God. I’m not vilifying fun. What I am saying is that it should not be the driving force in my life. It’s not so hard to see how fun can become a false idol.
I’ve been convicted about quite a few things lately. The pursuit of fun at its core is a selfish pursuit – I am simply chasing my own pleasure. Philippians 2:3-4 says: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Jesus calls us to love and serve others. I think it’s easy for me to become complacent with my level of Christianity – I go to church regularly, I participate in a small group, and I spend a lot of time with friends from church. But am I really fulfilling the calling God has placed on my life?
No, I’m not. I’ve felt tugs on my heart for months now to invest in the community and give back to the city I’ve grown so fond of. I always have an excuse – I haven’t found the right opportunity, I’m busy with work, it’s too far away, etc…
A few weeks ago, I was reading the Parable of the Two Sons:
Matthew 21:28-31 (NIV)
28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
I have been the second son. I’ve been speaking my intentions, but not following through on them. I thought about how frequently I get together with my Christian friends to go to dinner, go to a bar, to celebrate something – but when was the last time that we got together to serve or to pray (outside of Sundays at church)?
There are other things I’ve felt tugging on my heart beyond serving in the community. I’ve also felt like I need to become an early riser, to be more frugal with my spending, and to either significantly limit or completely abstain from alcohol (that will probably be its own post at some point). I have yet to follow through on any of those things. Why? Being sober all of the time, not being able to spend money on whatever I want, and having to go to bed early and wake up early would put a damper on my ability to have fun.
Is fun more important than God? It shouldn’t be. But perhaps it has been. Time to knock that idol off of its pedestal.
I’m not going to transform into Mother Teresa overnight or become an ascetic. But I can take small steps toward becoming less selfish in my day-to-day life. I was feeling a bit discouraged yesterday over some ways I feel I’ve failed God recently. When I prayed, I literally asked Him to hijack my life. I want to submit fully to Him and stop fighting Him on those things I feel called to do, but am reluctant to actually follow through on. After praying that last night, I ran into one of my friends in the cafe this morning. She is a co-leader for Bread of Life, which is where members of our church gather every 4th Saturday night and serve a meal to those in need, and eat and pray with them. She’s been encouraging me to participate for months, but I always have an excuse, generally because I already have some kind of social plans for Saturday night. Well, the next Bread of Life is tomorrow, and guess what – I already have plans. But, I remembered my prayer from the night before, and I felt I ran into her for a reason. So I decided to forfeit my “fun” plans to go serve. Yes, I am experiencing a little bit of FOMO (fear of missing out), but obedience trumps fun, and God has shown me over and over again that obedience always brings blessings.
I registered for volunteer information sessions for two organizations that are practically in my backyard – The Anti-Cruelty Society (animal shelter) and Open Books (non-profit bookstore offering literacy and mentorship programs for kids). Given how passionate I am about pets and about reading, I really don’t know how I justified not signing up earlier because I wasn’t sure either was the “right” opportunity. There is also a Ronald McDonald House nearby (place where families with sick children in the hospital can stay while they are receiving treatment) that I would like to get involved with, but I think I will see how the first two play out before making any more commitments.
The point is, I refuse to be the second son any longer. I am not perfect and I will continue to battle with selfishness and with sin, but when I feel the Lord is leading me to something, I must act.