You can kiss your family and friends goodbye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not live in a world but a world lives in you.
Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale
Our families and friends influence us in ways in which we may not even be aware. Habits and preferences are formed as much through interaction and observation as through instruction.
An example I've heard told many times is about two sisters and the holiday ham. Each time the sisters baked a ham, they cut the end of it off. This practice continued for years until one sister's new daughter-in-law asked, "Why?" The woman replied, "That's how my mother did it." Again the daughter-in-law asked, "Why?" The woman called her sister and asked her why she also cut the end of the ham off. The other sister's reply: "That's how Mother always did it." Curiosity peaked, the sisters called their mother to ask why. Their mother's response: "When you were growing up, my roasting pan was too small to fit the whole ham, so I cut the end off."
So many of our adult responses come from our background - unfortunately even negative ones. I think that is partially why Jesus said
If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26 NASB)My Bible has a polite little side note for the word hate: "i.e., by comparison of his love for me." While I agree with this idea, I have to think it perhaps is a bit mild and in the case of our quote today, not as descriptive as it needs to be.
...Because not all of the influences from our family and friends is based on what was (or is) best for us.
Amazingly enough, an abused child still loves his father. Yet that relationship tends to color his perception of God the Father once he becomes a believer in Christ. Let's get real here: How often have we thought, "OK, God... When are you going to zap me? When do I have to pay for that awful thing I did, or said, or thought back x years (minutes) ago?"
Or if we've had a wonderful life to this point and God calls us to step out into unknown territory... Do we cling to our "good life" - parents, children, job, home - hesitating to put a foot in the raging waters of change?
What does hesitation or holding on to the influences of our families and friends benefit when God calls our name?
Do you remember the story of the woman with the alabaster box of costly perfume?
This woman with the damaged past (Luke calls her a sinner or an immoral woman) takes this box and pours it over Jesus' feet where it mingles with her tears. She then dries his feet with her hair. The disciples - the very friends of Jesus and supposedly the leaders of the new believers - grumble in indignation saying
Why this waste? (Matthew 26:8)What does Jesus say about this woman giving her best to him, and doing it in an attitude of complete abandon and submission to the Lord regardless of what the other believers think of her?
She has done Me a good deed.How can we be like this woman with the alabaster box?
Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her. (Matthew 26:10b, 13 NASB)
Can we walk away from the consuming influence of our world? The absorption in pleasing everyone around us?
Can we focus on doing whatever it takes to please our Lord...even if it means sacrificing our best?
And beyond that, can we push past the fear of losing what only God truly holds and step out into the raging waters to gain the promises and blessing God has on the other side of the river for us as we live REAL LIVES of devotion to Jesus Christ?
When you come to the edge of the waters...you shall stand still in the [raging waters].It is one simple step to just dip our feet into the water, it becomes complicated when we look at that big wall of our families and friends opinions and needs but still choose to stand firm. If we can focus on Jesus, our heads bowed in complete submission to Him...seeing only Him, listening only to His voice, our lives of worship and service become REAL.
When...the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest), which were flowing down from above the waters stood up and rose in one heap.
And the priests who carried the ark of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground. (Joshua 5:8b, 16-17 NASB)
Look what the priest faith did for Israel: Everyone crossed the flooding river in safety. Look what the woman with the alabaster's box did for us: We yearn to worship like she did and God increases our love and desire for Him when we read her story.
How will our REAL LIVES in Him bless our families and friends we give up to His care as we follow Him obediently?
Father, Hold tight to my hand as I step into my faith walk, trusting you to care for my family, my friends, all my other concerns...so that I can follow my heart for You and serve Your Son with complete abandon.