Ok, so it’s actually two words, but I’m playing off an article I recently came across in which the writer stated her New Year’s Word for the Year: NO. NO to all of the committees she’s constantly asked to be on. NO to the outside writing jobs she’s asked to do. NO to the projects and fundraisers and dinners that are crying for her help. NO – this year, she is going to “hold better boundaries for [her] soul and for her family.” Doesn’t that sound just…wonderful? To carve out time for yourself and those dearest to you instead of living in the prison of busy-ness…sounds like bliss. I have to confess, much of me craves this seemingly balanced lifestyle – with time just to sit with my kids and talk about books, or go for a walk with my husband around our neighborhood instead of running around all of the time to church, the store, Bible studies, basketball games (currently) and doctor’s visits. And truly, these times of refreshment (especially with our families) are necessary. But something about the whole NO business just didn’t ring true as I was reading. So what is the problem with the whole NO deal? Isn’t it good balance for a society of “busy”? Doesn’t it help keep family and home life more important than stuff?
To put it simply, no.
Not really. Not if I am going to understand and embrace Luke 9:23-24. Or Philippians 1:21-30. Or just the whole book of Philippians. Or the life of Christ (see Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Or even Proverbs 31 for that matter (even if it seems like this woman hardly has time to leave the house). No, if I am going to wrap my arms around the path that follows Christ, I can’t just be a No-Man. Jesus did say that “if any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children [!], and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). My family is beloved and dear to me – a cherished and precious gift given to me by God. But something – Someone – is even bigger than family and special times and memories – my Christ, “who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).
So what am I supposed to do then?
“And I will very gladly spend and be spent…for you…For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain…Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ…I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel…Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others…Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world…If I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all…But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus…For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus…Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you…My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Excerpts from 2 Cor. 12:15 and the book of Philippians)
This is the message of the cross. This is the message of the Gospel, that I as a child of God and follower of Christ have the privilege to advance. It’s not an easy message to accept or embrace.
It is costly, and it demands a lot of sacrifice: sacrifices of time (maybe family time); sacrifices of energy (that I may or may not currently have while raising two toddlers); sacrifices of convenience; sacrifices of money; sacrifices of my rights.
That’s right – even my USA-ordained rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. My rights to a wonderful family. My rights to a quiet hour during naptime or getting my kids to bed when I want to or being able to eat meals together.
Yes, family is important and should be a priority. But a priority, not the priority. That belongs to Someone else. And my heart makes idols out of things far too easily. That is why the main thing Jesus focused on in Luke 9:23 was…family. It doesn’t seem right. But I have to trust my Father that loves me – and my family – and obey this life-changing mandate. And yes, it is life changing.
As I wrap up this lengthy but hopefully Word-saturated article, I want to share an instance I have never forgotten. During my senior year in high school, I heard a missionary from Austria speak. He was an engaging speaker, not so much for his abilities as for his passion. As he concluded his time before us, he asked us to pray for three specific things for his family as they ministered in Austria together; and one was that his children find joy in serving with their parents in the ministry there.
I can think of no better way to pray for my children as we wade through the mire of consuming ministry activities. The local church is what God has called all of us to, and I want to serve and volunteer my heart out – and hopefully impart to my children a love and joy for the people of God and the work of the ministry
Written by Megan Albright. This article was published in the Summer 2014 edition of The Beautiful Spirit magazine. Megan lives in St. Francis, MN with her husband Joel and their three kids.
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