"What are you living your life for?" This question was posed to us in church this week and I have to admit I don't have an easy answer to it. My pastor didn't have an easy answer either . . . that's one of the things I think I most appreciate about my pastor.
So, anyway, what am I living my life for? I can come up with several different answers depending on how I phrase the question.
What should I be living my life for? God, of course.
What gets me out of bed in the morning? I know my kid needs me.
What takes up most of my time? Endless, often mindless, details of life.
What do I want to live my life for? I want to live my life for Jesus and to reflect His beauty and His glory. But I have been a Christian long enough to know that sometimes it is easy to just parrot back the "correct" answers so that everyone will believe that my life is on the right track and I am appropriately spiritual.
Yes, I will admit I want to have the right answers whenever questions are posed to me. Especially if they are spiritual questions. As if I can somehow prove my salvation by answering someone's questions correctly.
And yet . . . questions like these can be important. Questions from someone who loves us, questions that see into our hearts . . .
We don't have to read far into the Bible to see God's first questions. I read about them a few weeks ago. . . which leads me to a confession. . . I wanted to read through the Bible this year. I have wanted to before; in fact, I have before. But I fear I may have done it in the past out of some desire to make God more pleased with me. This year, I wanted to read it all the way through, through what author John Lynch calls "the lens of grace". Well, it is March. Guess where I am? Genesis 3. Yep, the year is almost 1/4 over, and I am in the third chapter of the first book.
Now, of course, I could rush to tell you that I do other reading too, through Bible Study, devotionals, etc. But even if I had only read those 3 chapters so far this year, I would be okay with that. Because I am pondering those chapters. I am letting those words sink in. I am seeking to hear my Father's heart toward me. And I am finding it in Genesis 3.
****Disclaimer****: I am not a theologian. I do not know, speak, read, or write Hebrew. I have not read a bazillion commentaries on this passage. These are simply the reflections of my heart. If you choose to critique them, please tread lightly.
God poses His first question of mankind in Genesis 3. He asks Adam "Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat"? Shortly thereafter, He asks Eve "What have you done?"
Something hit me about those questions this time through. In my years of teaching parenting classes to foster parents, one thing we always told them was "Do not ask your children questions that begin with the word 'Why'." Why questions immediately put children on the defensive and can cut off further communication. So I found it interesting that God didn't ask "Why" questions here. At least in the translation I was reading. (see Disclaimer above). He asks "Have you eaten . . ." and "What have you done?" I wonder if His questions are designed to draw them into conversation, to invite them to share their hearts with Him, to bring them out of their hiding and restore their relationship with Him?
Reading further in this passage, I find that God doesn't ask the serpent any questions. The serpent was acting in a way that was congruent with his character. The Enemy desires to rob, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). But Adam and Eve . . . God created them for so much more. For relationship, for companionship, for life. And so, rather than just pronouncing judgment on them as He does with the serpent, He asks questions first. It is as if He is saying "You were made for so much more than this. Don't hide. Don't make futile attempts to cover yourselves. Don't run. Talk with Me. I am here. I understand."
I believe any question God would ever ask is designed to invite us into deeper, fuller relationship with Him.
So, when the question is posed: "What are you living your life for?", I know. I am living to follow Jesus, closer and closer every day. I know following Jesus means dying to myself. I used to think that meant obliterating every part of myself -- that I should have no opinions, no original thoughts, no personality. But maybe . . . just maybe . . . dying to myself mostly means dying to my pretend self . . the one where I put on masks and pretend everything is okay and happy and perfect because I am living my life for Jesus. The one that knows all the "right" answers to all the questions.
Maybe it means dying to that pretend self and allowing God, who created me to be me, to resurrect the real me, the true me, even the messy me. You know her . . . sometimes she snaps at her husband for no apparent reason. Oftentimes she doesn't get up early enough to have a "quiet time". But Jesus is changing her heart, nevertheless, day to day.
So maybe I can allow Him to reflect His glory, not in spite of me, but because of me. Those of us who struggle with issues like insecurity have learned to say "oh, yes, God can use me in spite of myself." BUT maybe He can use me because of myself. I was His idea. I was born in His heart. This is a truth that I try to impart daily to my daughter and pray she believes. Maybe it is time I believe it for myself.
So, what am I living for? To become more real, more transparent, more fully alive . . . more of the person He created me to be, to reflect His glory in me. His glory in me . . . that is what makes all the difference.
Choosing a jubilant life,