Life was simple and easy once. Not too long ago really. I worked 25 hours or so a week (maybe 30 now and then). Kristin, my wife, made good money working 40 hours a week. We did what we wanted when we wanted to do it. Life was good. Life was easy. We’d go out to plenty of fun dinners and take weekend getaways to the mountains. We’d watch movies with the home theatre system rumbling our walls as we shared a bowl of popcorn on the couch. We’d stay up late and sleep in on Saturdays… as late as humanly possible. That is, unless I had a sunrise trout fishing trip planned, of course.
Perhaps I should stop reminiscing right here. This month, three years ago, Kristin was seven months pregnant with a surprising promise who we named Noah Daniel. After his arrival, simple and easy took an immediate exit right out the door. And our world of safety and comfort went right with them. Since that day, almost three years ago, we’ve been to ER’s as our little son turned blue from not breathing to being swollen and bright red from allergic reactions to foods. We’ve had sleepless nights instead of nights out on the town. We’ve gone without romantic dinners in quiet little Italian restaurants because now our gazing into one another’s eyes would be to the sounds of “No. I don’t want to eat.” We’ve exchanged movies and surround sound for quiet evenings hoping not to wake our son because he was sick all day and needs to rest. We’ve traded sleeping in on weekends to being awoken, sometimes at 6am (or before) to the sound of “Daaaaaaaaaaddy.”
Of course, I could go on and on but please allow me to drive straight to my point. Simple. Safe. Comfortable. Easy. Our lives for many married years. As recently as last night, as Kristin and I stayed awake virtually all night long tending to our sick little one, I was reminded not of what we’re missing but rather what we’ve gained. It's not about fleeting moments (sleepless nights with a sick toddler), it's about a much bigger picture- rearing him to be one captivated with Jesus. You see, my Father has me on an incredible uprooting adventure that all started in that hospital maternity wing. Some of my comforts are dying a slow and painful death and some, it seems, were seemingly ripped right from my chest.
I can say that at this stage I hope to be more willing to lay them down at the feet of my Father in surrender. This season we’re now in as a family is a call to leave the comforts and safeties of our life behind. You see, we’re being called to move from easy unto eternal. It’s surely not a painless endeavor. In fact, many times it seems to scare me to no end. That’s because it’s all out of my control – and that’s exactly where it needs to stay. If I can control it, it will always be limited to my abilities and strengths as well as remain at comfortable levels that I can manage easily. But it seems that God will have none of that these days. His call is clear – “Leave the safe. Leave the comfortable. Leave the controllable, calculated world that you’ve created.”
As I was wrapping up a 5-hour detail job today, someone walked by and commented on how awful the vehicle was when I started and how long it was taking me to do the paint restoration process. It was in dreadful shape, yes. But what came out of my mouth in response stuck with me the rest of the day. “You’re right. The challenging jobs are a lot of hard work but they sure are a whole lot more rewarding,” I said. Our life in Christ must be like this. We must be willing to embrace the trials, pains and discomfort of dying to our ironclad wills. It will not be pleasurable in our flesh but it will absolutely be so worth the effort when all is said and done. It will take the remainder of our days as we grapple with the processes of letting go of our comforts and cravings in order to perfect us. The end result, the reward of it all, is to please our Father.
So, we venture out. Sometimes with arms raised and a roar from our mouths as we run across the fields of life and, at other times, with fingers digging into the ground as all that we’ve known as “normal” is moving away from us. Either way, the call goes forth. “Come and die. Lose your life for My sake and you will find it.” It makes no sense to almost everyone that I meet, and often even to me. But we keep our gaze on Christ and lay aside all things that keep us from being more and more conformed into His beautiful image. Anyone can do easy. May we be a people who embrace the eternal.