Every day I look down at my left wrist and see the bracelets my daughters made for me, reminders of why every day I try to put my best foot forward. Those girls are reflections of my wife as well as myself, filled with purity, joy, genuine wonder, hope and optimism. I need them as much as they need me, so I wear the bracelets every day when it would be easier to make an excuse to not put them on when I put on my work clothes and put away my down-time garb. Also on that wrist is a rubber bracelet that I’ve saved from their scrap-heap that says, “Created by God. Built for a Purpose.” It’s another daily reminder I need to not just see, but to read and be reminded of. As I leave for work, one daughter crabby, the other clinging to me I need to be reminded that I’m here for a reason. If I didn’t believe that, it would be easier to quit my job so I could be around more and find some work to pay our bills. Mornings like today are brutal, but I’m here because this is where God wants me to be. It doesn’t mean it comes easily, or that I always shout out ‘I believe’, sometimes it’s more of a timid, ‘OK God’.
Like so many others, our stories go from a clean slate to a board covered in our sins. We have the chance to wipe the slate clean which some of us do, and for others we decide that task is too difficult or we’ve done to much as we look at everything. Yet we’re all created by the same God, and we’re all built for a Purpose.
Moses is the kind of unlikely hero, another underdog in the grand tradition of underdog’s that God chose. He was an abandoned Jew brought into the royal Egyptian family at a time when this ancestors were building the country at their great expense. He was the lesser ‘brother’, not a great speaker and always had a sense of those realities. As he got older God began revealing to him who the real Moses was, the result was an anger that boiled over and resulted in him murdering an Egyptian and leaving the country. He found a new comfortable life, settled into the safety and joys of married life with kids. Then of course it all changed as God’s purpose for Moses became more clear. When God came to him he’d put distance between his old life, who he was and what he had done and found peace in a new safe identity.
I don’t know where you’re at, but I feel like I’m in a similar place today, and at other times in my life though far less grand. I started out unblemished, endured my own harm and then let that harm make decisions for me that could have separated me from a God that created me and loves me, and a family I love and adore more than they know. God spoke to me then, and speaks to me still. Not in clear ways, but there’s a conversation taking place at the same time a conversion is taking place. I’ve gotten comfortable with where I’m at, where we as a family are at and the direction we’re going. I’ve made peace and a commitment to completing a master’s program so I can serve others and it feels like all the decisions have been made. I find joy in serving, teaching and being a husband and father. Then God showed up and is giving us a new daughter that will shake up our home. It’s not going to blow up our home, but it’s going to change it dramatically and it’s easier on some days to say, ‘why God?’ This obviously isn’t on par with what Moses was asked to do, but for me it feels like it. I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but with the relationships I’ve made there will always be those watershed moments that feel as monumental as what Moses faced, and if I or anyone else is told otherwise it only intensifies those emotions.
We all have our battles, we all have our challenges, we’re all being asked by God to do something. From the small to the immense, everything and everyone has purpose. God doesn’t want perfection, God doesn’t only use ‘perfect’ people, God uses all people that are perfect for the plans He has.
“We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
When we push back, or feel that something is just ‘too big’, it’s our own stuff that’s clouding our judgement and telling us ‘we can’t do it’. It’s our own safety zone that feels too comfortable for us to step outside of, even though God gave us that safety zone in the first place. We’re in it to develop and grow and then the next chapter is given to us, even if it’s uncomfortable for a while, transformation takes time and what comes out the other side is something new and stronger.
“Growth demands a temporary surrender of security. It may mean giving up familiar but limiting patterns, safe but unrewarding work, values no longer believed in, and relationships that have lost their meaning.” – John C. Maxwell
This past weekend Holly and the girls got to see one of the truly remarkable moments from this time of year, when Monarch butterflies gather in swarms as they head south as part of their life-cycle. The trees become orange as they group together to prepare for their thousand mile trip to Mexico. Like us, they find strength and comfort in a community formed by their common bonds. Their life is no longer based on them devouring everything they come across when they were young, it’s to create new life after their transformation and then heed the final call and complete what they were designed for. Monarchs are truly incredible, and are their own story of growth (think recovery). They’re born simplified versions of themselves and perfect for their early life, then leave behind the things they ate and then laid to waste leaving their trail of destruction behind. Then, after gorging themselves, they turn inward and literally devour themselves so when they emerge from the chrysalis, they’re a new creation that bares no resemblance to the one that entered the cocoon. Once it emerges though, the work still isn’t quite done before it takes flight and begins it’s work pollinating and encouraging growth. It still takes time for the metamorphosis to be completed.
When I began recovery, I thought I could jump to more of the encouraging growth phase. I could jump past the pain, stay in relative discomfort and grow enough to develop. In those early days I didn’t know, or was too self-absorbed or feeling too safe to realize that for growth to take place, the old has to be dealt with and discarded. It’s painful, agonizing and all kinds of uncomfortable. For me and others, it would be really easy to run away and hide. To ignore the fact that I’m Created by God and Built for a Purpose.
“You were chosen according to the purpose of God the Father and were made a holy people by his Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be purified by his blood. May grace and peace be yours in full measure.” – 1 Peter 1:2
Keep fighting and remember you’re where you’re meant to be regardless of how painful it may be. For those of you that aren’t feeling any pain right now enjoy it, because there’s no telling when God will call you to step outside your comfort zone and into something that challenges you. Something that seems too big for you to handle and something you may even want to run away from. In all seasons give thanks, tomorrow has enough trouble of its own. For today know that you’re where you’re supposed to be, and you’re never alone.