If we teach our children to live their lives according to the accepted norms and common sense of the world, we may be leading them toward a Godless life. Sound a little extreme? Trust me, it is not.
Walking the walk of Jesus is one that is going to demand a different way of relating to the world.
Paul said in Galatians that he was crucified with Christ and that he no longer lives, but Christ lives in him. He further said that the life he now lives in the flesh, he lives by faith in the Son of God, who loved him and gave himself up for him. Every day, the world bombards us with messages of power, independence, and control. It is easy to fall prey to that kind of thinking.
What happens when you find out that your spouse has a mental issue or is sick or lazy or abusive? Where do you turn: some well-meaning counselor or a lawyer? Your decision will have a long lasting impact on your children and your family legacy.
Allow me to try to explain my decision to stay with my wife (and for her to stay with me) after so many struggles and heartaches. God has allowed relational difficulty to be a part of our story – and has used it to draw us closer to the people he is crafting us to be. I had to ask the question: What is God calling me to do?
I am trying to live the life Jesus is writing for me. My struggles with my marriage were real and painful, and I longed for things I didn’t have. Slowly, I began to realize that it would be quite cruel for God to leave my wife and Me alone with our longing and desires and spare us the affliction of his refining care. He was indeed using the pain to transform us.
This journey I now take willing is a “fated warrior.” A champion who heads into battle aware that there is doom at the end. I sense that the struggle and battle may not change anything. I am told that “Defeat rather than victory is the mark of the true hero; the warrior goes out to meet his inevitable fate with open eyes.” Sound fatalistic? Sound like a martyr? In some ways, it may appear and feel like that.
One of the hardest-to-swallow, most countercultural, counterintuitive implications of the gospel is that bearing up under a difficult burden with patient perseverance: is a good thing. The gospel advocates this kind of endurance as a daily “dying” to self, and for and with Jesus.
There is something profound in facing our struggles today, all the while knowing there may be no real relief this side of God’s new creation. We may wrestle with a particular pain, weakness, desire or longing all of our life. But the call still remains as the central theme of our decision. It is time to go to battle. This is a battle of being faithful to the gospel’s demands. The Lord said to Paul, “My power is made perfect –not in the absence of, but in the midst of –“weakness.” 2 Cor 12:9 He also said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23 (NIV)
I find my identity in Christ through faithfulness to Him. My hope is that I become more fully alive, not less. I want to believe and say yes to full, rich, abundant life. When I die, the author of my story will invite me to live with Him and all the great company of the redeemed forever. And the joy I will have at that moment will be mine for all eternity. I think I can endure knowing that. I can live as long as He is there to help me persevere. Francis Chan would call that living for eternity rather than the few years we have on this earth.
Henry Nouwen, who wrote the “Return of the Prodigal Son” and so many other inspiring books, was tortured by his homosexuality and the fight to stay true to the Bible. He gave voice to the truth of the gospel that, under God’s severe mercy, evil may be turned to good, pain and suffering may be redeemed and transformed, beauty may spring from ashes. He by persevering would glimpse the beauty of God.
Knowing what Henry went through all of his life had a huge impact on me. But that was not all. I attended a church where the pastor talked about the recent Supreme Court ruling on the definition of marriage. He recommended we read a book called “Washed and Waiting.” The book spoke of a gay man like Henry, who struggled to be a follower of Jesus and being attracted to men from an early age. He explained the loneliness and pain of living a celibate life for Jesus. He had chosen the difficult path of living according to scripture rather than the accepted norms of society. I cried when I read of his deep longing and aloneness.
I knew after reading that book that my struggles were so small compared to his. I knew that my struggles were as real to me as his were to him. I decided that my marriage was a covenant with God, not just a contract to be broken at any time. I decided that following Jesus’ story for my life was the only path to fullness and abundance.
I knew that the struggles would continue, but now I had a new found faith and commitment that serving Jesus and participating in His love was all that I lived for. Jesus relentlessly pursues us and loves us through and in all of these struggles. Never give up on His love and His peace.
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By Joe Sturniolo
Christian Family Legacy and Wealth Planning
Joe believes that stronger families are the vehicle God uses to bring
about significant impact for His Kingdom.