Have you seen the movie, Ocean’s Eleven? Or Twelve? I remember sitting through the movies and thinking to myself, “If I wasn’t a believer I could see myself pulling off a masterful heist.” Shocking, right? Why in the world would I want to steal money from a casino in Vegas?
Well, why not?
In all honesty, it may be that the fear of jail time might dissuade me in the end. But maybe not. If this life is all there is to our existence and there is no truth, then I’m pretty sure I would be the master of ME, doing what I wanted. And I tend to either go big, or go home.
It was the perfect crime, really. No one got hurt. No guns blazing Rambo-style every 10 seconds. Mostly just witty, brilliant, thought-provoking duping of sleazy rich casino owners. I think I could live with that.
Except I can’t.
Because my standard for living and behavior comes from God. But George Clooney and Brad Pit caused me to reflect. How different would my life be if I wasn’t a Christ-follower? Is there evidence in my life that I am who I am because of my faith?
If I didn’t know Jesus, I’m pretty sure I would be that woman at the top of the company food chain. Driven to the max, I like to prove myself and I don’t care what people think. That’s my natural instinct. And I like fine things. If someone has to carry Gucci bags and have an entourage, it might as well be me. Let’s do it.
And commitment? Why in the world would I stick to one man? Relationships would be mostly about serving me. If it got too difficult, why would I stay? Life is too short for that. And I probably would not be interested in having children-way too much responsibility. If an “accident” happened, then you can bet that I would have a day and a night nanny-or at least an excellent childcare facility. Let someone else potty train. I’ll see the kids at dinner and have fun planning their birthday parties. I'm not attempting to be condescending of other people. I'm serious. That would be my mindset.
I would be nice to people. It’s not that I would be soulless. But if this life is my one chance to satisfy myself, then I’m the type of person who is going to pursue every ounce of pleasure out of it I can, and I won’t worry too much about what I have to do to get there.
But that’s not me.
As much as I am that driven, passionate, matter-of-fact person, God scooped out all the emptiness of the life I would be living outside of Him and reshaped my heart and mind.
I chose to be a teacher. God directed my steps into the classroom. Not exactly a high paying job. In my “free” time, I sat down with groups of young girls to open God’s Word and disciple them. I ate English muffin sandwiches with eggs most nights for dinner, and drove a modest car. And I LOVED it.
My vacations were not spent lounging at a resort as if that was the best it can get in life. I spent my summer vacations in orphanages in third world countries.
I married a man who is the opposite of me in a lot of ways, and like all marriages, we have had our challenges. But we stay together, we pursue fulfilling our God-ordained roles, I submit to him as the head of our home, and he seeks to love me sacrificially as Christ loved the Church. We don’t bail out when it gets hard. And we strive to honor God in our relationship, enjoying the beauty of marriage-God’s way.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was preparing to begin my PHD in organizational leadership. With a master's degree in leadership and organizational leadership, I was on the path to becoming a head of school-what I believed God had for me if I wasn’t to have children. Within a few months of finding out I was pregnant, I let my bosses know that I would not be returning to the classroom the following year and I notified the university that I would not be accepting the grant for my degree. I took it seriously when God spoke to my heart through Titus 2 that I was to be busy at home, raising my kids. All that passion, drive, and God-given giftedness would be funneled into a different vocation-that of missionary mom. And we would pay the price of a single income. Tiny apartment, one car, no holiday trips, no root canals when needed. And yet God provided. We are learning to be content with food and clothing and to see that Paul was right. Godliness with contentment is great gain.
I’m not saying Christians can’t have a resort vacation, get advanced degrees, or face insurmountable relationships. Some of the Godliest people I know and love have fat bank accounts and go on wonderful vacations. That’s not my point. I’m simply reflecting on who I would have been outside of Christ. And that may very well be why we live so simply. God knows what we can handle. I trust that.
How do I know God is God and I am not? Because I am compelled to live according to how the Bible instructs me to live. I fail. All. The. Time. I’m being refined continually. But I am NOT who I would be if there was not a living and active God who holds the balance of the universe in His hand. I don’t need facts, statistics, or miracles to prove it.
My everyday waking life proves it to me. In a culture where I am constantly told that I am the master of my life, that I can have it all, that success is money and people and lives are expendable, that speaking out about hot topics isn’t a good idea because you will be persecuted, I am not able to buy into it.
The truth of God rests in the fabric of my life’s path. It’s the evidence of God shaping my choices. It’s not me being “so good” and living like a martyr. I’m too smart for that. I’m too selfish for that. It’s an honor to live whatever life God places before me. If it were up to me, I can assure you, I wouldn’t be a work-at-home mom living a simple life. I have no ability in myself to follow God or to love others more than myself. The fact that I can is evidence to me that God is.
So when those moments of doubting my faith may come, I don’t have to wonder very long if God is Who He says He is. To question if His promises are for me or not. I just have to remember how He changed me. That even when life got hard, and dangled before me a more pleasing path, I could not walk down it.
That I could be lambasted for holding views that are not popular instead of keeping my mouth shut. That I could be persecuted for my beliefs, and accept it. Like Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
I’m no thief. I’m no mastermind of a multi-million dollar heist. And most likely, that is not who I would have become outside of a life with Christ. But I’m not the person I would be if I wasn’t a Christ-follower. It’s not about being better than anyone else, it’s about knowing that I am better than the Amber I would have been. Redeemed. Changed by the Holy Spirit. I thank God for rescuing me from myself. Any good that I have done, certainly doesn’t come from me. I know myself to well to take any credit. It’s Christ in me. I’ll spend my life thanking Him for satisfying me with truth, and giving me a life worth living.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
Give thanks to the Lord! Call on his name! Make known his accomplishments among the nations! Sing to him! Make music to him! Tell about all his miraculous deeds!
Boast about his holy name! Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
YOUR TURN! How has your life changed because of what God has done for you?
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Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory. Psalm 115:1
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