Before I begin let me start by saying that I don’t think I’m that great of a person. I don’t really think I’m that great of a husband, I don’t write these blogs because I feel I have it all figured out. I do not write to lecture anyone or condemn anyone, I write because I like to organize and catalog all of these thoughts that float around in my head. This will be one of my longer posts because in this convoluted world of cliche religion, I want to avoid misunderstandings. As you begin to read please try to get rid of all the stereotypes and negative experiences you might have with Christianity prior to reading. As we begin let me just say that I have always believed that God existed, but it never changed my life until I finally internalized and understood what I’m about to explain to you.
It seems everywhere I turn there is a new “key to happiness” or “key to success” or key to this or that and I want to tell you about my perspective on these topics. Everyone is in pursuit of something. Sometimes its money and the financial freedom that it brings, sometimes it’s the pursuit of that significant other to feel complete, your “soul mate”, it can be many things. There is philosophy, psychology, and self- help books that all claim to have the key for us in this life. I too am tempted by the great promises that supposedly come with notoriety, respect, wealth, possessions, and riches. Many times in my life (including now) I feel like I would feel less burdened if I just had more money. I wouldn’t have to struggle in Spain, ask for handouts, and rely so often on the amazing people that have helped us. It’s hard sometimes to constantly ask for help, particularly as a guy because we are supposed to be providers. Trust me I do not plan to be in a state of needing help forever, My wife and I honestly desire to be in a position to give more, but that’s besides the point. Despite all of this, I have never felt more alive, more free, and more “successful” than I do right now. Isn’t that weird? I have thought a lot about it, and I think I understand why.
Becoming a Christian, my world got flipped upside down. I realized that everything I was pursuing to “feel fulfilled” could not give me what God could. I can really relate to what Paul said in Philippians 3:7-8:
“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,”
All the things I worked so hard at, Sports, boxing, relationships, career path and everything else all became rubbish compared to what I got from Christ in knowing him. They just don’t compare. I finally felt like I could stop chasing “happiness” and “success” I was for the first time really and truly free. Don’t get me wrong, I learned valuable lessons from many of these things, but they still do not compare to knowing Christ. I am now free from what the world tells me to chase. I don’t feel the need to chase down that “big job” or chase “higher education”, please don’t misunderstand me, chasing these things are not wrong as long as God is bigger and knowing him exponentially more important. As a result of this freedom provided by Christ, La Micia and I have been able to leave our jobs on good terms to move to Spain to do Gods work, we were able to get married despite the fears that come with such a big commitment, we were able to move to Baltimore City to spread the good news despite other things we would have preferred to do. We were only able to make these big decisions, because we weren’t tied down to chasing things in this world. We could make these moves because when God is so huge in our lives, everything else is so small. We are no longer a prisoners to what the world tells us to do via advertising, comparing ourselves to our friends, and watching shows like “shark tank.” I think John said it best,
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:16-17).
This world is passing away. I watched a documentary on Evel Knievel aka Evil Knievel and this became very so clear. I was really inspired with how at the end of his life he had reached a point of realization and epiphany where he had everything he wanted yet said publicly,
“I earned a lot of money and my name came to be known…I was empty, I was just empty” – Evel Knievel
For the full testimony from Evel Knievel, click here.
Aren’t the things Evel Knievel had the things that the society tells us to go after? I actually don’t know if it society that pushes us or just our flesh and pride, I imagine its a bit of both. Anyway, isn’t he an example of what many of us are striving for? Not necessarily to be a dare devil, but to be known, to be respected, to make a lot of money, to be revered? He had all that and he said he was empty! He came to a point in his life where he had “it all”, but was still empty. This brings me back to the concept of real freedom.
True freedom comes from living for the next life, not for this one.
When you live for the next life, it doesn’t matter as much what happens here, you can let things roll off your back, you can stop worrying so much, working so hard to earn money. When you are living for the next life, it finally makes sense and even pays off to love people, to be humble, to be gracious, to be joyful. I’m sure you have realized this by now, but the world doesn’t reward those qualities, nor does the world reward us for how much we love God. I never knew of anyone who got a raise because of how much the loved God. It might have happened, but im sure its not that frequent. Thank the Lord that we actually do receive recognition we desire in our eternal outlook. We see the world and eternal life contrast in the following passage.
For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away. 12Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:11-12
True freedom comes when we die to the desires of this world and just focus on living for heaven, living for our eternal destination, our eternal crown. It is only then that we are free from the heavy burdens placed on us by the impossibly high standards placed on us by ourselves and others.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:20
When we love, when we are humble, when we serve the poor, when we are joyful because of our faith, we receive little to no recognition here on earth in comparison with the recognition fame and wealth gets you. In fact, many people do not like it when they see a loving, joyful person. However, we will be rewarded with the crown of eternal life if we stick it out with Jesus. We might not get the recognition we so desperately desire here on earth in the moment, but we will be recognized by God when we meet him. In order to truly grasp this and experience this freedom, we have to let go of everything, become an empty glass for God to fill back up with his values, his promises, his desires for us… Thats freedom.
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Matthew 16:25-26
I am still often tempted to “take back my life”, and go after the worldly success and would say I have even lost this battle at times. This fight for me will not be over until I die, but I am determined to keep a focus on Heaven because I have never experienced anything like it and I pray that when I meet God he can say, “well done.” If you want to experience true freedom, please don’t wait until you are as old as Evil Knievel when he decided to come to Christ. In making that decision, you can experience true freedom and find your real self. If your not sure if you are doing this, a good way to tell is if you can relate to the following passage:
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)
Its hard to live for Christ in this world and if you do, you will definitely feel like an alien. Keep in mind the promise of this passage, that God has prepared a City for his sons.
If you don’t know how to go about this, feel free to send us a message!