A few weeks back, my husband set off for some time on his own. He packed up his things and made way for the Texas Hill Country, where the open skies and rolling hills give a man good reason to lift up his eyes. I’d been watching it all pile up on top of him for a while; When a man loves and lives in a manner worthy of Christ’s calling, it can wear and tear and bear down on him. This manner of loving and living has a way of bringing a man to his knees. I don’t envy the God-given weight that these men of ours bear, but I thank the God who gave it for this man of mine who bears it. This last year has been a long, hard stretch of life for him – a season where the wilderness has masqueraded as nothing other than a wilderness. One of those seasons that clearly proclaims that this land isn’t the one we’ve been promised. So he set out to reorient himself rightly, to set his eyes on that promised land somewhere over the horizon. When he came home two days later he handed me this – a few typed written pages that turned and twisted my heart into a messy puddle of gratitude. I promptly deemed it our family’s manifesto – a declaration of our intentions, motives and aims – and tucked it away right next to his wedding vows to me, both which speak of the same Texas sunset. With his permission, I’ve posted an abridged version of his writings below…
July 2, 2015
I want to articulate what I see for my life and for the life of my family. I do so prayerfully and with a clear mind. I understand that, notwithstanding the significant amount of prayer and consideration that is reflected below, there will be times when I doubt the words on this page. That’s how I am, at least for now. It is my sincere prayer that in those times I will read these words and, through power that is not my own, remember a transcendent and absolute truth that unceasingly calls for me and my heart. Indeed, if I believe that absolute truth exists, it is easy enough to see, let alone remember. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20 ESV) Better still, I pray for those times when I read these words without doubt and in full worship, knowing with unwavering certainty these simple truths.
You were chosen before the foundation of the world, not for your glory, but for His. Simple and staggering, this means: It is not about you. Your family; your marriage; your job; your success; your failure; your joy; your pain; your life. None of it is about you. In this world, this will be the hardest thing for you to accept, even harder to embrace. Until you do, nothing changes; once you do, everything does. And through the sanctifying crucible that is life, you will know peace, and He will be glorified.
“[E]ven as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:4-6 ESV
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.”
Philippians 3:14-16 ESV
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 ESV
Your family is a sanctifying gift and sacred responsibility. You serve God through family as you help to raise up the next generation of believers, preparing them to engage all people, believer and nonbeliever alike. Your boys will be leaders, and, in all things, they will be strong, courageous, and compassionate. They will astound in ways you cannot yet conceive. Your wife is as close as you will come in this life to knowing an angel. She, like your sons, will astound. You will serve her, and, God willing, will sit on a porch with her years from now staring at a Texas sun, knowing it is finished.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 ESV
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word….” Ephesians 5:25-26 ESV
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” Proverbs 31:29-31 ESV
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV
Church is a community of believers given as a means to sanctification. It is inwardly focused enough to aid each along in the process of sanctification, with the ultimate aim, not that each would remain inward, but extend outward. We engage and grow each other so that we may engage and grow the world, all so that God may be glorified. This is the heart and purpose of discipleship.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47 ESV
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Work provides provision and purpose, but only a purpose, not the purpose. Work is also worship. This means that all things, big and small, should be done well, so that He may be glorified. Be patient. Let go.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3 ESV
“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'” Matthew 22:37 ESV
“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.'” Luke 9:23-24 ESV
“Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.” Proverbs 31:23 ESV
You are a leader. Pray that God will open up opportunities for you too lead. You will be tired; you might not sleep. Manage yourself well, but deal with it. You will get impatient; deal with it. You will get frustrated; deal with. It is not about you.
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” Philippians 2:14-16 ESV
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