Tuesday, December 24, 2013
*Note: This post originally published as part of the [Subversive Underground] e-newsletter.
My greatest fear is that I will never be a great man, that I will always be less than average...the lowest, the least of God's shining stars.
After nine months I still have no clue what to do with my life. I look in the mirror at night and I wonder if I'll die a failure.
Will I ever publish a book? Would that make me great? Will I ever find a full-time job that pays well, with insurance for my wife and children? Would that make me a great person?
Will I ever be famous or successful or honored among my peers?
Would any of those things make me a great man?
What is greatness? I'm sure someone somewhere has written a poem or a speech about it. I should google it sometime. Is that what a great man would do?
Why do I struggle with these questions at all? Why do I care so much about things like success or popularity? I don't know. I just know I can't find a job. I can't be the husband and the father...the provider I want to be.
I don't know what would make me great, but I do know one thing. I am not great. I am less than average. I am only me.
The ironic thing is that I'm currently writing a book about the hidden wisdom in the Gospel of the Kingdom regarding the power of weakness.
The truth is, sometimes it's hard to believe the words in my own book. It's hard to believe that God has a plan to make me more like Jesus and that the path to that involves enduring a measure of pain, of weakness, of humility, in order to discover the power of Christ.
What I'm learning now is that there is a very big difference between knowing something is true because you've read it in a book, and knowing something is true because you've lived it.
As I learn to daily die to myself, I'm discovering that God is really in complete control. He has everything where he wants it to be, including me.
Yesterday I read a wonderful quote from the book "Let Go" by Fenelon. It read:
"It is in weakness that we can admit our mistakes and correct ourselves while confessing them. It is in weakness that our minds are open to enlightment from others. It is in weakness that we are authoritative in nothing, and say the most clear-cut things with simplicity and consideration of others. In weakness we do not object to being criticized and we easily submit to censure. At the same time we criticize no one without absolute necessity. We give advice only to those who desire it, and even then we speak with love and without being dogmatic."
Maybe I am not great. I freely admit I don't even really know what the word means. I do know that most of what I would expect to help make me great will really only make me shallow and self-absorbed.
God's plan for my life is to make me like Jesus. The character of Christ is one who came to serve and not to be served. Jesus was the leader who got on his knees and washed his follower's feet. He was the one who suffered and died under the hand of unjust punishment without striking back. He even forgave those who were in the act of torturing him to death.
The path to greatness is not the same as the path of Jesus. The way of the cross is the only way to follow him. He said so himself.
His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts.
This is why Jesus calls us to "Repent" in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Because "Repent" literally means to "think again". It involves re-thinking our lives and re-defining the things we value most.
I am not great. I am just me. And the real problem begins there.
The real miracle is that, someday, somehow, God's plan is to take someone like me and make me into the image of his Son.
So, every day I have to wake up and take up my cross and submit my life to Christ. There is no other way.
"If anyone would be the greatest, he must be the very least and the servant of all"- Jesus (Mark 9:35)