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Look into the golden honey colored past, upon
the grey drab present, and onto the steel blue future.
When I started years ago, I thought I was going
to change the world. I had grand plans of what I wanted to be
and what I expected to do with life. I was going to change the
Having faith in the future should
be liberating, it should free you from the worries of life, yet
it's difficult (at least for some of us) to be able to sit back
and simply say.
"God, I'm here, what do you
want me to do?"
As opposed to the more common thinking of:
"God, this is what I think
you told me to do, I'm going to do, and and you'll bless it, because
it's your will."
This is the family that I have and looking back
at, I'm proud of (Obituary from the LA Times)
was a member of one of the city's most important pioneering Chinese
American families, a clan that helped the Chinese enter society's
mainstream at a time when institutional racism prevented them
from owning property or marrying outside their race. Many of those
old families have left Chinatown in the last 100 years.
Although everyone deals with it differently, it's
part of the maturation process in which your dreams are tempered by
the hard reality of life.
Is it really about sacrificing everything to God? In one form of another
I've heard this struggle over and over, from religious worker, doctors,
Years ago, my minister told the same story this
"When I started seminary, I talked to one
of the graduating seniors. He seemed somewhat interested, and I was
quite eager to tell him, why I was going
to seminary, and what plans I had afterwards. Indeed I did have grand plans
for what I wanted to do with my life at the time. I imagined myself
six kids, three of my own, three adopted, some of which would be cross-cultural.
I'd be pastoring an inner city, multi-cultural church, committed to social
justice, a beacon of the community. It'd be a place where all of
God's kingdom would
come together, there'd be wealthy politicians and businessmen, community
leaders, educators, as well as the poor, and the needy. There'd be
a community center,
a drop in center for the neighborhood kids, we'd provide legal counseling,
assistance with housing issues. It'd be respected far and wide. People
would use the church
as a nationwide model for racial reconciliation.
"The older seminarian politely listened,
afterwards he simply told me that after trying for years to weigh
the balance between simply
serving in a church setting, and simultaneously trying to finish
a pastoral degree, he was tired, broken, and unsure about what he
going to do next. After hearing my grandiose vision he replied that,
indeed at one time he also had those dewy eyed dreams as well. Yet
at this point he simply wanted to be faithful to God.
"Years later, broken, discouraged and wondering
just what to do with life I understood what my roommate had meant.
My dreams had been sacrificed on the altar, to be like Christ is
to be willing to give up that which you prize most, even if it
means sacrificing your dreams, only by being willing to give up everything
can the spirit be liberated."
In various forms I've heard it again and again. This
story comes from a doctor.
I wanted to add another thought about the liberation
of giving up a narrow vision for our individual lives, even if we
believe it is of God (recognizing that often times, later down the
road, we look back
and wonder if it really is/was of God) - surrendering our life visions
really gives control back to God. It's a disillusionment for us to
think we are in control, and even if I know in my head that I'm not,
verbally say I know I am not, it is difficult not to *feel* like
I am, and think and plan life as if I am. Keeping a "fuzzy vision",
or a more broad spectrumed life vision seems like a compromise -
if God truly is calling me in a direction, say like working in the
inner city, then maybe the
isn't right at this time, so it doesn't look like the vision is coming
to fruition in the near future. But it may be a short detour towards
the same end place, and I may very well end up in the inner city
later in life. And by keeping other details out of the picture (eg
just how I would work in the inner city, who I would work with, etc),
I don't get so caught up trying to create this vision, rather than
just letting God work to bring it to fruition the way it should instead
of me impatiently creating a false creation that just looks like
what I may think God is leading me towards. I hope this wasn't all
too confusing - bottom line: giving up control of a life vision,
especially a narrow-viewed one at that, is liberating not only in
a practical sense, but also in a spiritual sense: it surrenders the
control back to God, who had control all
forces me to realize my false reality, that I am really not in control.
So forever it's worth. Being content with your life
means being willing to sacrifice your own dreams and living by faith.
Knowing that God does have a plan in your life, and will be glorified
by it. So many people I know seem to have lost site of that.
Five years later the pastor is still struggling to
balance his church, and home life. His church's vision and goals are
still solidifying. The doctor has moved to a wealthy suburb on the North
Shore of Massachusetts.
I'd forgotten this story, but it's somehow fitting:
ago, Jim was a successful investment banker for Goldman-Sachs (in NY),
and Chris was a humble mutual fund manager for State Street Bank (in Boston).
Jim took them to his office and they stood on the trading floor of Goldman-Sachs,
and looked over Wall Street as the sun was setting over New York.
And Jim says to Chris "You know, I could get
you a job here if you want."
Jesus also stood on a high mountain, and looked
out over all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
And the devil says to Jesus "All this I will
give to you."
Chris replied "Away from me Satan!"
That was a long time ago ago, Jim quit his job there
a few years later to for WorldVision - a global nonprofit organization.
Like anyone else the skills aquired in finance helped his job, even
non-profits need to move large sums of money around the globe.
Chris is a missionary to
China. Chris no longer lives in Boston. I imagine that Jim might still
be there, married now, living in the same shabby, InterVarsity subsidized
apartment across the street from Columbia.
July 20, 2007