I woke up one morning after the Trump election had taken place, and I realized I had yet to fundamentally grasp how important it was that my life be something different from now on. In so many ways, I was still trying to be a worldly person.
Surely, the mission that I am on should be very much focused on helping real people out in the real world. But, the ultimate question of ends and means is all based around a promise of eternal salvation.
In other words, it shouldn’t matter in the least if I receive no recognition here on earth for the things I do. Therefore, every single thought, word and deed become determined by something radically different. In many ways, it is a freedom that I haven’t remotely begun to explore. I, like anyone else in my culture, have been conditioned and programmed to believe that worldly recognition matters. A salary matters. Awards, acclamation, titles, etc. matter. Even when I am filling out the questionnaires for the ordination process, they want me to know how I’ve been recognized by other human beings. All of that matters only so much–to get me from a tiny point A to a tiny point B.
At the end of my life, if my name isn’t widely known, and my writing is completely deleted or forgotten, that’s okay. The mission should always be about progress internally to completely re-orient myself on the focus of being able to spend eternity with the triune God.
Because that is the focus, minute decisions become different sorts of decisions. I am always asking myself: does this really matter? Does it matter if someone frowns disapprovingly because I chose to not go to church this week, or I chose to go to a different church this week? Does it matter if I update my wardrobe every year? Does it even matter if I successfully finish this MDiv program?
It shouldn’t be about trying to radically depart from all social convention, but it should be about freeing myself up and not narrowly defining myself by some kind of rigid expectations. I should be constantly praying for opportunities to become more oriented toward God, and more focused on God’s love for me and more focused on ways in which I can express that love to others.
I don’t need to own all of these books, anymore. I should be fully prepared to let them go in the near future. I can free myself up from having an acquisitive nature–constantly looking for new things that I might need.
I don’t need to worry about my hair anymore. I can use up the bottles of stuff that I have lying around and stop buying more products. My hair is going to do what it will do. I don’t need to worry about having enough money anymore. God will provide. If we run out of money while we are here at seminary, and I am unable to get any scholarships, then I will go back to work.
The major things that happened to inform me of just how little I am in control of my future: the election, the presbytery’s decision to not allow me to become an inquirer for a full year, L’s trip to the hospital.
All of these things significantly impacted my equilibrium and knocked out any sense I had of being in control of my future. The future is in the Lord’s hands. I will do seminary as long as we as a family can afford it. Then, I will either be a pastor, chaplain or a professor. If none of those work, I will go back into sales and marketing or get a bang up Linux Sysadmin certification and be a lowly IT guy somewhere. The reality is that I am always going to be in lowly positions. I am not hardwired to be an alpha leader, to boss people around, or get caught up in trying to persuade large numbers of people to think differently.
I don’t think the world really needs another person like that. I think that in the kingdom of heaven, none of us will be alpha leader types. There is one King, the rest of us are servants and followers. But, we are also brothers and sisters. We revel in an ordinate sort of glory–it is a glory that has propped us up of God’s accord and grace. Therefore, we have no business lording any special talents or gifts that we have over others, because nothing we have is due to our own merit or industry.
The kingdom of heaven probably looks to be more socialist than capitalist, but there is no top-down regulation of the group sharing mechanism–we all share because we are freely giving what is freely given.