Why was I raised in the United States by well-educated Christian parents, never having known un-treatable disease, hunger, war or persecution – when others are born into Christian families and seem to continually know disease, hunger, war and persecution? Why do I have so much – when the vast majority of His children have so little? This question challenges my theology. Life is not fair!
My response to the inequities of life has been to take what the Lord has given me, to take who I am and accept the challenge of Dwight L. Moody’s words: “The world has yet to see what God can do through a man fully dedicated to him. By God’s grace, I will be that man.” I have worked at living In Partnership With God. This is where my heart has been, where it is.
So what did God have to work with? Certainly not the brightest kid on the block! Certainly not the person with the most charismatic personality – that everyone enjoyed being around. And not a great athlete – a good right guard on the football team, but a person that is no good at basketball, tennis, or baseball. A reasonably good singer, but not a musician. Not a great leader – I was not elected to lead anything. My big mouth and boldness continually got me into minor trouble. My driving habits and dating conduct were not always “above reproach”. Why am I the way I am, given the advantages that have always been a part of my life? I can blame it on Satan, but in reality I know that the decisions I make are my own choice.
I remain before Jesus Christ and others, a very sinful person. James 3 describes me well: “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. Ephesians 5 does not describe me well: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” My mouth combined with my lack of patience, gentleness, and self-control have always gotten me into difficult situations – and though I desperately try to change, this combination of my sinful nature still spills out, causing myself and others considerable pain! Where is the evidence of the fruit of the spirit in my life?
So why has God chosen to give me the experiences of His reality, to impact the lives of hundreds of young people, often in measurable ways? I could say it is a mystery, and to some degree it is. To stop here is easy, but may not be the most helpful. I believe the following is also true:
- God knows my heart – and knows that, deep down, I hate my sin. I live frustrated with the fact that I continue to sin in my thinking, in what I say, in what I do. I do work at confessing my specific sins to Him realizing that Jesus Christ died for my sins. I am living proof that Psalm 103 is true: “for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
- God knows my heart – and knows that I really want to please Him – to serve Him however He chooses. To me this includes working at being honest and open, at not being timid when I feel He has a job for me to do, be it seemingly small or large. Sometimes this job seems to be to share the experiences God has given me to encourage others.