From my Tumblr: “This morning I read this article: “The Key to a Purposeful Life. It’s not imitating Christ, but union with him that makes the difference.” by Sarah Lebhar Hall .
It was timed very well for me. I was starting to sink a little. Down into that place of reflecting on my life choices. Wondering again which choices were motivated out of a good heart and which came from a place of fear instead of love.
I wasn’t concerned about sinking so low I couldn’t get back out. But I was weepy, saddened by how my life has adversely affected other’s lives.
At the end of the fourth paragraph I read these words: “Whether because of the limitations of time or circumstances many things we want to do in our lives, and with our lives for God’s kingdom, are often beyond our grasp. Life doesn’t unfold the way we expect.”
The next paragraph ends with this question: “How do we deal with the fear that our lives will be disappointing – to us or to God?”
“The good news from the Scriptures is this: No follower of Jesus is an isolated entity, living out a solitary, potentially tragic plot line. The life story of a disciple is inextricably linked with the life story of Jesus. Each of us connected to Jesus as a branch is connected to the vine,…” The Author goes on to explain how this connection to Christ can and does affect the way we view our life.
I’m going to write more about this on my www.tjtalks.wordpress.com blog. I want the truths to seep into my brain and melt my heart again. I want to rest in this connection to Christ and resist the striving, anxiety and despair that comes from trying to figure out how to do life ‘right’. ”
And so I begin my wordpress post:
Mrs. Hall, the Author, reminds us how “…the truth gets even more shocking: As the Father is in Jesus, so are we ‘in’ Christ, and he in us (John 17:20-26)….”
“But it is incredibly good news for those of us who wrestle with the uncertainty and disappointment of life on earth. Because we are ‘in Christ,’ because his life is ours, our fundamental life story has already been written.”
Six points are made by Mrs. Hall that begin with “If I am united with Christ,….”
1. “If I am united with Christ, my focus can be on staying connected to Jesus. I don’t have to obsess about the particulars of the decisions before me. Do I take this job? Move to this city? Marry this person?….these are not ultimately the defining questions of my life……..As far as life direction goes, the most important questions sound more like this : Am I feeding myself on Jesus? Am I hearing his words and putting them into practice? Am I loving him with all my heart?….”
2. “If I am united with Christ, then my life will take on not only the direction of Jesus’ life, but it’s quality. We spend a lot of time thinking about the ‘plot’ of our lives. God is apparently much more interested in character development.”
3. “If I am united with Christ, I get to enjoy his victory.” She tells the story of Sarah Hughes who “…skated as though it were a prize to simply be at the Olympics. She skated with an exuberant, reckless abandon. That freedom enabled her to give the best performance of her life. Our lives as disciples, united with Christ, should be a lot like that. Jesus has already won the medal for us. The prize is ours. We get to enjoy the event, to marvel at the privilege of being included in the games.”
4. “If I am united with Christ, my life – even my pain – is sweetened by the fellowship with the Trinity…..The Christian life is not simply a matter of ‘pain now, gain later.’ We are given – right now – incredible fellowship with God. Eternal life is knowing him (John 17:3).”
5. “If I am united with Christ, suffering is not a deviation or a dead end….., I expect my life to go smoothly. When it is interrupted by pain, I feel surprised and angry. But if I am in Christ, I can expect suffering to be a normal part of my discipleship. It is not a detour from Plan A, but an expected component of life with Jesus. In fact, it is an opportunity to participate in Jesus’ life, to share in his sufferings (for he suffers with us), and to have his resurrection made known in my body (2 Cor. 4:10-11)…….Our suffering is not a pointless impediment to our productivity or fruitfulness. It is something we share with Jesus, for the good of our souls and of his kingdom.”
6. “If I am united with Christ, I am freed from my fears.” She tells the story of a conversation with her husband about the Apollo 11 moon landing. Her husband said he could not have enjoyed it (if he were on that mission). “He concluded that his fear would have overshadowed any real appreciation of the adventure……Jesus wants us to know the ending of our story. Otherwise, the terror of the unknown would distract us from living life to the fullest. Because we are united to Christ, when we look at him, we see the end of our story. We do get to come home safely. That changes our experience of this ‘mission’ that is our lives. We can live them joyfully, as adventure stories and not tragedies in the making.”
Her final thought is one I want to ponder as I go about my day and the days ahead.
“May we rest in the security of our union with Christ…..Let us embrace our unpredictable seasons of life as those who are confident in the quality of the plot, committed to character development, and enjoying our relationship with the protagonist. Christ in us is ‘the hope of glory.’ And hope does not disappoint us (Rom. 5:5).