At the beginning of 2018 I made a commitment to spend more of my devotional time writing. This has grown over the course of the year to include not only more journaling, but also writing some devotional thoughts of my own, and even hand-writing the New Testament chapter by chapter. While August is far from the middle of the year, it tends to represent a time of reflection and planning for the upcoming hustle of the fall, and that reflection led me back to a thought I penned on January 1st of 2018. I’ve come back to this journal entry a number of times for my own reflection and also to share with members of my staff, and I thought it might be impactful for the few of you that read this blog.
It’s not the most eloquent thing I’ve ever written, but it represents the lifetime of teary-eyed moments I have shared with my Father. I think it’s important that we share these moments, when appropriate, with one another so that we all know we’re not alone in dealing with our human brokenness and our desire for significance. I’ll do my best to get some more out there in the future, but until then I hope this finds you well.
1 Chronicles 1
In Psalm 31, David says “I do not occupy myself with things too marvelous for me.” I don’t do such a good job of following his example! I want to know everything. I think partially that’s because I really enjoy learning and itching my constant curiosity, but I’m positive some of that comes from pride and ego. If I can understand, as David puts it, “marvelous things,” then I must be pretty marvelous myself. I have always enjoyed being smart, discerning, and having understanding, but I know those desires represent a mixed bag of motivation.
If I am intelligent and discerning, then I may be worthy of my role, of the mantle of leadership and responsibility that has been placed upon me. If I am wise and understanding, then I am worth listening to; I am capable of making decisions and giving advice. If I am talented, hardworking, high-achieving, and not often wrong, then I am (at least somewhat) deserving of my role as a leader. If I am successful in my work, then I am making my Father proud and proving that I am worth the investment of His Son’s blood. This line of thinking, can, and has, led to some dangerous choices and patterns in my life.
As I start this year, it is so easy for me to dig into Scripture and begin to seek understanding of these “marvelous things”: the creation account in Genesis, the lineage of Abraham and the hundreds of years of planning and toiling and strange names, and the first steps we see in the Gospel. My desire to discern, understand, and comprehend jumps out and makes a beeline for substance and self-justification. My desire to prove myself worthy makes itself immediately known. This is so hard for me to get around! Especially when, as a pastor, these are things I should probably have a pretty good understanding of. But I want to start this year differently.
Today I choose to trade understanding for awe. Tomorrow I will have to do the same thing, but I can’t account for tomorrow, today. All I have control over is my posture right now, so right now I choose something different than proving myself worthy. Today I want to be like David, to “calm and quiet my soul,” to be like a child before God. Yes, I am a husband, a brother, a pastor, a friend, a leader; but before I can be any of those things, Lord make me like a weaned child, calm and quiet before You. I don’t need to know and understand every mystery, timeline, creation story or family tree. I don’t need to be the most talented, the hardest working, the most deserving of a position or a title or a family. Today I choose to know one thing: Christ and Him crucified. Today I choose to rest in the knowledge of an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God, who, in His wonderful, mysterious mercy, saw fit to make me His son. Today I choose to be confident, not in my own ability, but rather in my lack of ability. Today I choose to be Joseph, son of Joseph, son of God. That is marvelous enough for today.