From Equipped to Called
A few months ago, some texts from one of our members, Andrew Still, got my attention. His tone was different and the subject wasn’t sports, kids, or routine church matters. His tone was excited…alive. So we went out to lunch and this is the story he shared with me.
He wanted to share it and I asked him to do so in this format to bridge our sermon series about the Bible with the upcoming series starting on Sunday entitled “Called.” The flow is meant to show how inspiration from God leads us into new opportunities for God. I hope Andrew’s story will inspire you, and I hope you’ll join us in October as we revisit some Biblical stories that will help you know your own calling.
On the morning of June 7th this year, I went for a run and had a complete breakdown and moment of spiritual clarity like I have never felt before.
For several years my dad has struggled with some deep-rooted issues that caused him to be in a continuous state of depression. Over the past several years, this has greatly impacted me and our entire family. It caused me to ask myself the question over and over – Why can he not find happiness? During one of many serious conversations with my dad, he finally asked me – What could he do to make our relationship better? My response to him was that if he TRULY loved me and our family then he would stop drinking and at least be willing to take a step in the direction of dealing with some of the deep-rooted issues that have debilitated him for so many years. His simple response at the time was, “I am NOT going to stop drinking.”
I truly believe everything happens for a reason. We tend to look for one singular reason but there may be multiple reasons why something happens. While my dad’s response was and is still hurtful, I believe one of the reasons was to serve as a wakeup call for me. It was on my run that morning of June 7th that I could picture God with arms wide open and tears in his eyes asking the question – What is more important than having a relationship with me? I believe God had been begging and pleading for me to have a deeper and more meaningful relationship with him. For whatever reason, I had not been willing to TRULY make my relationship with God the single most important part of my life.
The first words in the book, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren are “It’s NOT about you.” My entire perspective and thoughts about life fundamentally changed for the better when I realized that my life is NOT about me. At times I felt like I was drifting through life without a clear sense of purpose. I tried to make my family the most important thing in my life and tried to center everything I did around them. I believed in God and was grateful for what Jesus had done for me, but for the longest time still felt like there was something missing. I feel like I truly came alive and started living my life to the fullest when I realized it was not enough to simply believe. As James 2:24 says “So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.” I am definitely not and will never be perfect. The beautiful thing is that God does not expect us to be perfect, but he does expect us to be honest. I am making a concerted effort on a daily basis to center everything around my relationship with God and act on my belief by serving others instead of seeking what only benefits me.
The two aspects of life that I now place a premium on are 1) Relationships and 2) Time. There is nothing – ABSOLUTLEY NOTHING – more important than having a deep, meaningful relationship with God. God loves you more than anything else and in return wants ALL your heart, ALL your mind, and ALL your soul. It is not enough to give him just a part of you – he wants all of you! When you are willing to completely trust and obey God, you will have an overwhelming sense of peace like you have never experienced before. Your family, friends, job or whatever else you place a high priority on can still be important, but they are not AS IMPORTANT as your relationship with God. When having a relationship with God is the single, most important emphasis in your life it will actually enhance all other aspects of your life. Since God IS love, having a deeper relationship with him has helped me become a more loving husband and father, a more loving and open friend, and even a better employee at my job that I was so miserable at for such a long time. I have not fundamentally changed anything I was doing before. I have simply changed my ATTITUDE and PERSPECTIVE.
I believe how you spend your time is a reflection of what is most important to you. I can make more money, but I will never be able to make more time. My relationship with God and the people in my life are what is most important to me now. You must be willing to invest the time if you want the more meaningful relationship with God and the people in your life. When you realize how important your relationship with God is, you will want to take the time to read God’s Word and want to make it the epicenter of your life. I am determined to NEVER take the Bible and what God has done for me for granted again! I believe that if God did absolutely nothing else for me, he has already done enough for me to be eternally grateful. I believe God is giving us time here on earth to accept a loving relationship with him that is offered as a gift. God is giving you the gift of time. The greatest gift you can give someone is your time. It is giving them a part of your life that you will never get back. You show God’s love to others when you are willing to give them your time without expecting anything in return. You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.
This life is preparation for the next. The best use of life is love. The best expression of love is time. The best time to love is now. When you start living in light of eternity, your values will change. All the sudden, the parts of your life that that have been causing you so much stress and worry will appear much smaller in the bigger picture of eternity. Use every chance you have for doing good with the time you have been given here on earth. As John Wesley stated, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” It is human nature to try and imagine what heaven will be like, but it will be greater than all we can ask or imagine – so have faith in that truth.
I hope to live my life in a such a way that people want to ask WHY? When the opportunity for that loving conversation comes, I want to be able to share why my relationship with God is so important to me and how it impacts my thoughts, which in turn drive my actions. You will have more patience, understanding and love for others when you realize your time on earth is temporary. Living the rest of your life for the glory of God will require a change in your priorities, your schedule, your relationships, and everything else. It will sometimes mean choosing a difficult path instead of an easy one. It is time to settle the question of who are you going to live for – yourself or God?
Real Christians know the truth about God’s love and grace. In a world full of so much noise and distractions, we need constant, daily reminders and other believers in our life to help keep the foundation of our faith strong and vibrant. I believe one of the several reasons we come to Church is to be reminded of what should be the most important aspect of our life – that is having a deep, meaningful relationship with God. No one is meant to live alone or in isolation. God wants to have a relationship with you. Whenever you feel unimportant, unloved, or insecure, remember to whom you belong. The world will try to convince you that you can do it all and on your own without anyone else. God says the complete opposite that we are meant to be in fellowship with one another as part of HIS family. The truth is – you are as close to God and HIS family as you CHOOSE to be.
On August 22nd I feel like a true miracle happened for our family. After years of much hurt, tears, and praying, I felt like God was finally able to reach through to my dad. I had invited him over for lunch and decided to share these thoughts I had written with him (Note: it did not include this part I am sharing now). I believe after years of hurt, anger, and depression, God was finally able to reach my dad’s heart and give him a sense of purpose and hope again. I am aware it will still require time, effort and love to build back our relationship, but it is worth it. I believe the difficult times we endured will allow us to cherish the time we have together going forward that much more!
I have a sense of urgency to share the love of God with others. As Luke 12:48 states, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from those who have been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” I plan to spend the limited time God has given as a gift to me, deepening my relationship with HIM and building loving relationships with the people in my life. If I can help just one person grow closer to God, then I believe my life will have had a meaningful purpose. Some have told me that I am on a “church camp high” right now, which I cannot disagree with. I realize there will be a time when the energy and passion I have right now will not be quite as strong. For that reason, I believe we are meant to live in fellowship with one another as part of God’s family so that we can rely on each other in those times when God feels distant. My passion for others to have a relationship with God is stronger now than it has ever been. I can see clearly now that my purpose in life is to have a deep, meaningful relationship with God and to share that love with others so they can also have a relationship with HIM that will last for eternity.
Listen to “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash