Some might call it that “aha moment.”
A moment of sudden revelation or insight.
That place where something that was previously unknown, suddenly becomes known.
In this week’s post, I like for us to take a closer look at Epiphany; a celebration of God’s light (Jesus) coming into our world; what is sometimes referred to as the 12 days of Christmas beginning on December 25 and culminating on Jan. 6.
And man, do I need this reminder and how I hope it will be beneficial for you, too.
Because, if you’re anything like me, too often, I find myself sailing through life, pretty much feeling like either I’ve got a plan and all I need to do is execute it OR, I’ve reached a crossroads and I find myself looking for direction; a “sign” if you will, that will tell me which way to proceed.
As Pastor Chris shared in one of our daily doses earlier this week, we’ve been given a great light; not in the form of a star as was provided to the Magi but through His Word (Bible) and His Word Made Flesh (the life, example and teachings of Jesus).
And if we’re wise men and women, we’ll absorb that light by committing everything we do and everything we are, to it.
There’s an area of my life that, for a long time, I struggled.
Before I was commissioned several years ago now as a Pastor, I spent nearly 30 years in the medical business.
I chose this vocation, despite several times throughout my career, feeling called by God to service within the church, because I believed it would better provide financially for my family.
We were churchgoers, pretty significantly involved in volunteering and serving but there were several times – and it would usually happen between jobs – where God put a more specific calling upon my life but I resisted – more accurately, I rejected it; believing that it was my job to be the primary provider for my family. And I did it pretty well. But as each level of what I believed was success through increased income was achieved, we found ourselves getting caught up a bit in the whole “keeping up with the Jones’s movement,” if you will; where we recognized that life was good; but as we looked to our left and right, we got sucked in and could see that it could be better. And as we’d reached that next level there were times where, it felt kind of like what you hear from athletes or other performers who’ve reached the pinnacles of achievement, only to be left feeling as though somehow, they thought it would feel better; that somehow, reaching such heights actually left them feeling a bit empty inside, as if to say; “Really?” “Somehow, I thought this would be more fulfilling.”
Now, please don’t mistake my message. I’m not suggesting that achievement and success are inherently evil. But as many of us have had to learn, success without proper perspective and application can lead to outright peril.
The Bible teaches in Proverbs that “There is a way that seems right, but in the end, it leads to death.”
There’s, of course, a lot more to my story, and as much as I don’t mean for it to sound so dramatic; that’s kind of what happened.
The death of our family (through divorce) was followed by the need to get off of the road and change the way that I worked.
And the need for me to learn; to have the epiphany if you will; that I was not the primary provider for my family. Everything we have; everything we obtain (or don’t) is truly a gift of God. Our giftings; our abilities; the fruits of our labors; ALL OF IT.
And so, it is only fitting that we learn to include Him; to turn ALL OF IT back over to Him; to learn to live as wise men and women, under HIS Lordship.
But it can be HARD!
What, between culture, the marketplace and really even the enemy trying to influence our choices as well as our identities, we can pretty easily get sucked into some pretty wayward thinking, and find our grip slipping or outright lost on the truth that our real identity is or needs to be IN CHRIST.
Matthew, the Apostle, captured the essence of the teaching of Jesus about this when he wrote,
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
In this past weekend’s teaching, our teaching pastor, Chris Brown reminded us that we cannot predict the future – what things are going to be like and what may happen to us in March or June…
But many of us have or will learn what Paul shared with early believers in Philippi that still applies to us today:
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I have come to believe another thing Chris taught so well in his message; I know that I have to live in the world and the epiphany for me, if you will, is that I get to make the choice of whether or not to let the world live in me.
I’ve made the choice and I know that the only way I’m going to keep the world from living in me is to be a wise man; to fill my mind with the Word of God; to surround myself with other believers who can encourage and hold me accountable; to surrender my own way of doing things and allow the Holy Spirit within me to lead and guide me.
What about you? What epiphanies are you open or not open to in your life.
What are some areas in which you could be made wiser and live better by doing your part but then turning things back over to the influence of our real Provider and allowing Him to reveal some truths through His Holy Spirit in you?
I’m not suggesting that He will call you into vocational ministry or make you a Pastor.
But let me encourage you; we are all ministers and called to be a light throughout our world. Open your heart and your mind for renewal and transformation in this new year and see what God can accomplish when you’re working in concert with His plan and in alignment with His will.
I look forward to hearing about your success.
Right here with you,