Archives for December 2014

Born this way… A personal reflection.

“You cannot hold it against a person for being who they were born to be.”  I have heard this, and so have many of you.  We hear it most often about a very sensitive subject of our day.  But my response to it applies directly to myself, and I’d encourage others to look at this idea critically as well.
Truth is, I suffer from this line of thought. “I was born this way.” I struggle with pride and greed and even from time to time unholy sexual impulses.  I was born this way.  I didn’t grow up saying to myself, “I want to be arrogant and selfish.” But I was born this way, I grew up with it. I knew I was this way from my childhood. Then, as I grew to know right from wrong, I found that some of the ideas and feelings in me were wrong. Not because I decided that but because God had said so.
I, like many, reached 17 years old and ready to graduate High School when I realized I knew more than most other people. Not that I knew everything, but more than most. (That was my idea of humility back then.) But as I got out into the world, at university and at work, I became increasingly aware of how little I really did know. It was a time of confusion, frustration and anger.Then 24 years old, I committed myself to finding a job I could actually keep and do well at.  I found it.  A call center in my home town was just opening and within just a few months I had been promoted and had a good salary.
Well that’s it right? I mean, that is what we study for.  It is what we prepare our kids for.  I thought so.  I bought a house, bought a car, had a wife and kids.  American success!  And the pride and greed grew. I was infatuated with myself, my image and my stuff. I was born for this….
Except it wasn’t enough. I wanted more… I thought.
I can’t tell you the moment it occurred, but I’m sure it happened.  A moment when I sat with what John Bunyan called ‘the best of books,’ and I realized, I was born this way, but that doesn’t mean I have to live this way. I can be free of all this stuff.  I can be free of living like I have to hold this job with a certain salary and have debt on a big house and car payments on a vehicle I’ll never own.  I can be free.
Were there sacrifices…? Yes. But those sacrifices were nothing to what I received. It took a lot of faith. Now, not Oprah Winfrey faith, but real faith, in the real God. I had to trust that Jesus Christ would be my everything. I had to trust that He would give opportunities and provide for what was needed.
God had been good to me my whole life. A life that few in the world get to experience. I had a Mom and Dad who loved me, my siblings and Jesus. They provided for us and made sure we knew Christ. Later came my wife, Eyvonne, who had a wonderful family herself and later the two of us would have four children.
But even with all that, I had to acknowledge some things. I was born self-centered. I had my own desires that did not care for others or for God. When I really came to know Jesus, that required my repentance. Repentance that was more than confession, but an admitting of sin in my heart and an acknowledgment that God calls me to walk contrary to my natural born tendencies. That is what I work toward now.  It is what I pray about. It is a journey to become more like Jesus Christ every day. To care about what He cares about. To adopt His ethic as my ethic. To trust Him to know better than me.
I live a peace now with the conflict within me. I am a sinner. A man who is very self-centered. But I am also a saint. A man who has been made right with God by the blood of Jesus Christ.
His grace has saved me. I have faith in that: In Jesus, in His grace, not in me and it does not matter how I was born.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20