Those three identities have been on my mind a lot lately so I’ve decided to record my thoughts as things come up.
I’ve never thought being a disciple would be so complex and yet so simple. It’s complex because its Jesus himself leading me through life amidst all of my life and others’ lives that he has placed around me. All the pain, hypocrisy, doubting, sin, glories, joys, disappointments, and frustrations of life are all there – sometimes all together at the same time. Yet, it’s simple because it’s all about Jesus. All of my pain, insights, strength, and even weaknesses – they are all connected to my relationship with him. I’m learning that big part in following Jesus is just letting him lead me as His Spirit leads. Whether it’s conviction of sin, repentance, training, encouragement, nourishment, love, or his presence, all of life He will lead me through. I find it amazingly encouraging that it’s all on him – not on me. My delight & struggle is just to respond to him pursuing (& he always pursues – relentlessly).
After getting saved in college, learning what it means to be a son has just stared at me in the face. It’s where my intellectual theology meets practical reality. It’s where my faith is tested often because my parents know me and I know them. It’s where there is no room for ulterior motive because my parents already love me and see me for who I am and I see them for who they are – there is no one to impress and I am myself(for better or worse). When I share the gospel insights with them, the heart behind my words is exposed. If there are trite or shallow, pithy theological truths – they immediately become unimpressive. It’s a glorious ruin to expose the religion and refining my heart and mind. When I share about the hope of Jesus to my chronically sick mother who is always tired and her mind, body, and soul is taking a beating from overwork and relational emptiness, I feel like pithy, general Christian jargons and wording just blows by her head and doesn’t encourage her soul. When I look at my dad and the shell that he hides in, it hurts real bad. It hurts to know he doesn’t have community to trust (nor is he willing to find and be a part of one). It hurts to know that he’s seen the devastation of sin, suffering, and death without seeing the Savior that longs to comfort and save him. It breaks me to know that I, such a hypocrite and self-righteous person (and often apathetic and selfish son), has been shown so much grace to see Jesus and yet my mom and dad don’t (though they always think of ways to serve me as parents). It hurts to know that the relationship and longing for intimacy with them is a glimpse of Jesus’ immense and greater longing for relationship with them – to save them from their sins, bondage, and hurts and free them from it’s chains to find rest, life, and flourishing in Him alone forever. I hate it when these opportunities are given up to the everyday shallow talk of food, other people, and work. I hate it when it spirals to a theological and intellectual conversation or debate that winds up in ethnocentric self help. I hate it that we settle here as a family when God offers us freedom, boldness, confidence, and life beyond our exhausted, sad, mundane, empty, and overly-entertained lives. It’s so painful to see moments of precious life given away to these things. I’m greatly comforted by Jesus in these times. I’m thankful for the Spirit in showing me these things despite how painful it is to confront it and acknowledge it for what it is. This is going to help me not waste my moments with my parents and help me to not neglect the daily opportunities He’s given me for them.
Though this may be much further down the line, I’m learning in all of this. I’m learning how to be a good parent and what a bad one does. I’m learning how my parents’ failures are affecting me and what it looks like without Jesus to lead and save them and transform them. I’m seeing what it looks like for a family to just be spiritual and religious, but not connected to Jesus. I’m seeing what it looks like when ethnocentrism and a worldly idea of love can manifest itself into. I’m seeing what it looks like without the power of the Spirit to change lives. I’m seeing and experiencing the pain of relating to a dad that doesn’t know what repentance is and all the blessings that come from it. I’m seeing the pain and struggle that a wife feels on a day to day basis when her husband doesn’t lead, but just consumes and does not humbly admit his weaknesses and let God work in his life but deceives and lets himself live an empty and painful existence. These are things I will never forget, but I’m praying and asking God to use this in a good way to change me and help me to grow to love and serve well – especially to be sympathetic and love my parents well knowing their weaknesses and struggles. I don’t want to give my flesh or the enemy an opportunity to use this as a weapon for destruction, but I want to avail myself to God’s active pursuit of me and my family through these pains so that He can use me to influence and love my parents and show them Jesus’ love for them.