Two months ago I went for a long walk, alone, and gave God our house. “I don’t want it if it’s keeping us from serving you.”
I meant it. Life is too short to live without purpose, and if paying a mortgage and playing by the rules of American suburbia is blinding us to a bigger plan, I want out.
We could sell our house, but where would we go? We could dissolve our business, but what would we do?
These thoughts aren’t new. I’ve been on this quest for the past five years, ever since God began breaking my comfortable world. I’m searching for meaning, purpose…calling.
So far the quest looks like this:
We adopted an orphan.
We sponsor education and medical care for children in Africa.
We fund micro-loans for impoverished women.
We support those seeking to rescue and restore victims of human trafficking.
We help finance adoptions.
Yay for us, right? Except, not. The dirty secret is, no matter how good this looks on paper, I feel farther from my purpose than ever.
That Pesky Love Thing
A few weeks ago I started memorizing 1 Corinthians 13. I was in it for the “love is…” verses, but the one that ripped me open is this:
“If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3)
I can be the ultimate radical, giving away all my worldly possessions and even becoming a martyr for my cause, but if my motives are wrong, what good will come of sacrifice?
Ever since we turned off the television in October, I’ve been consuming books like Halloween candy. I’ve read Interrupted, Anything, The Irresistible Revolution, Radical, The Christian Atheist, and Love Does. I’ve listened to Francis Chan, David Platt, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, Jeff Vandersteldt, and Skye Jethani.
The TV-free house is quiet, but my thoughts are screaming: We’re doing it all wrong! What should we do about this? How can we do it right? We don’t know what to do!
Do, Do, Doodoo
Does Emmanuel not mean “God with us”? His name is about presence and relationship, not duty.
And isn’t the good news of Christ that he already did what I couldn’t, for the purpose of restoring our relationship?
And yet, the need. There’s a big, broken planet beneath my feet. How am I to respond? God doesn’t need me, but he calls me to action anyway. I can’t earn his approval, but he calls me to obey anyway.
Why does living out such a simple mandate feel so complicated? I keep trying to pin down a blueprint, a checklist, something to help me navigate the “how.” But it doesn’t work that way, because “Checklists can curb behaviors but they can’t change hearts. Unless we are responding to the God who loved us first, our good works actually become deadly, the antithesis of the Gospel.” (Peter Greer, The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good).
Love God. Love God’s world.
How can the hardest thing in the world be so simple?
[Insert profound, tidy, inspiring resolution here.]