Friday, January 5, 2007

Meditations of a Man on the Mend

(If you are in this web site for the first time, click here to read the initial writing of my experience with surgery to correct a blocked cardiac artery.)

I’ve been sharing with the children about the call that Jesus makes, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow after me.” This passage, combined with a John Piper message on suffering from the Passion 06 conference (an exposition of Col. 1:24 with parallel references to Phil. 2:29-30) has been most instructive in revealing more of His eternal purposes for us.

For a number of years, Judy and I, along with our married children, have discussed various plans for moving from our current residences into more of a co-op type of setting. Yet every time we discussed these possibilities, we failed to get from the talking stage to the acting stage. I had thought about our motives and was fairly certain that we were thinking properly, but somehow or other it just never happened. We were content with the timing and continue to very much enjoy our present home.

Here was our list of criteria for moving:

1. Care for elderly parents – have a detached/attached residence available for them when they need it.
2. Live closer to parents in the meantime.
3. Economic improvement
- Attempt to become debt-free
- Increased property value (until the real estate market crashed)
- Bigger property
- Bigger house
4. Opportunity for us to better serve our children and grandchildren.
5. Improved facilities for hospitality.
6. More country living.

In retrospect, one of my strongest personal motivations was the more selfish and self-centered desire to have more of what I want here on this earth without regard for the higher and more eternal purposes of God. I wasn’t aware of this until I listened to the John Piper sermon referenced above. Suddenly it began to come clear.

Now, don't get me wrong - I am not opposed to the Lord’s blessings – rather I want to embrace them, along with the trials He sends – both are part of the many blessings He provides.

But I must be willing to “deny myself,” something that does not come naturally to me (nor do I think to any of us). And taking up my “cross” involves staring the potential life of suffering in the face. The Lord is usually gentle about such things, rarely revealing the ultimate cost of our decisions made in obedience to His call. But in the end, the reward will always outweigh the cost (God is no man’s debtor) whether in this life, or more importantly, in the next, for that is where we are aiming.

Jonathan Edwards said about this topic something that dovetails nicely – from his Resolutions:

22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.

God made all things for us to enjoy. Jesus came to call us to a joyful life of self-denial for the purpose of embracing as much of Him and His Sovereign Will for our lives as possible!

Sounds a little like old Mr. Edwards to me . . .

And sounds like the missing motivation for all our family’s future planning . . .


Elise said...

"Anywhere with Jesus I can safely go,
Anywhere He leads me in this world below,
Anywhere without Him dearest joys would fade,
Anywhere with Jesus I am not afraid."

I'll go anywhere with you - so long as He's there, too! :)

Vanessa Lang said...

Kevin, I was just thinking about you today. We miss you here at the office. But more important, hope you are feeling stronger and better each day. I can't wait to see you again. But for now, I will leave you to the care of your family.