SG..."Jesus loves me," doesn't mean I'm the main character in my story?
"My fire, burn my desires; Guide me with the lights out; Lead me in the desert 'Cause I'm ready, 'cause I'm ready; I'm called to be, I'm called to be set free." Riders. "call to me"
During the last few weeks of 2023 I spent some time with my two older kids at a youth retreat at my church. Seeing them truly pray and consider God as more than a Sunday School story invigorated my faith and silenced so much doubt and fear in my heart for at least a moment. To hear the testimonies of our young speakers and their zeal reminded me of years past. Their simple message—focus on Christ, his life, sacrifice, and power of his resurrection and a holy life will flow from there—hit my heart. This was the message my own late-father always asked me hold onto, and as I go back into the scriptures I see that simple message shine through all the density1 of the Bible.
My kids got a glimpse of what it means to experience Christ beyond the day-to-day, and I had a thought that startled me and made me wonder: What if I exist to be a forerunner for these kids so they can make real impact? Meaning that in my webtoon2 of a life, I’m not the main character, but I’m a footnote of my kids’ lives or some else’s life entirely?
Let’s get this out of the way: Yes, John the Baptist (John 3:303) knew his “15 minutes of fame” existed to set up the Christ. We all draw from that lesson of humility that none of us are the main characters of our life compared to Christ. Putting that aside as an universal truth for us all, within our own bubbles, small portion of this earth, and life chapters some of us are going to have Instagram-worthy fame for the things we accomplished, be asked to tell our story beyond a small group of people, and be given roles that require us to make difficult decisions that affect other people. And some of us are not. That’s a fact, right? Many will say all the glory goes to God anyway, so your heart is in the wrong place.
Even John got a pretty nice shout out in Matthew 11:11.4
More importantly for my present state—is some of my stress related to a false sense of grandeur of who I think I need to be?
Growing up my my dad always asked me to read biographies of great men and women in history, so I could see what it meant to live a life a bigger than growing up in the burgeoning suburb we lived in at the time. All my life I’d hope that I would accomplish so much and in many ways I have. How could I not thank God for what I’ve experienced and accomplished, but it hasn’t felt enough for quite a while. My dad told me how uncertain he was about his life until he become a pastor. Not many pastors stay in one place for their entire career, but he knew who he’d serve and why for over 30 years. He vowed to die on the pulpit preaching how we needed to love God and people, and it was no coincidence he passed away a little past 12:00 midnight on a Sunday on Valentine’s Day. He always was a little larger than life and even that exit was kind of epic.
For me, each skill, each job, each experience was supposed to be building up to something but what that is exactly right now is more undefined than ever. Should I go to the ministry? In my up and down state could I really be called for that? I’ve always wanted to start my own company and only lack a strong idea to do so. Is that just my ego? In the last ten plus years, I can’t count the amount of conversations I had with my dad on what I should be doing with my life. Each conversation I had always ended with how I just needed to be patient and see how God would work. It’s a new year, and I still don’t know what I’m doing. This is what they call a mid-life crisis.
Underneath all that self-hype of my life, I had come to firmly believe I exist to be the main character in my chapter of life and so all my expectations needed to fit that personalized jar. And all these years I worked, hoped, waited, and prayed that I’d fulfill my purpose because I thought that achievement was important. It was just a matter of time. Money and fame don’t really matter to me, but impact does. When I don’t reach those expectations I feel stress. But as I watched my kids and their peers experience Jesus and then come to me and ask what they should do next, I thought maybe I’m here to just watch and help them be impactful. This isn’t like a “first generation immigrant giving up their dreams for their kids kind of feeling,” this is knocking my self down the importance totem pole. The idea scares the crap out of me. This all reminds of a good biography, Me, Myself, and Bob, I read many years ago about what our real Christian impact can be. I may need to read it again.
In a spiritual sense I can be used by God even as up and down as I have been, but maybe I’ll be more footnote than headline. Don’t get me wrong that I have just “given up” up on my life, but I do believe God is asking me to value just being with Him for an indefinite amount of time… no endgame and no timeline…just remain. Isn’t that true all the time regardless? So why does that feel like I’m being benched permanently? I have to do some repenting on this one for sure.
Generations of people have become bylines or skipped all together in history books and the Bible itself. Were they lost generations or precursors for others? “Jesus loves me,” doesn’t mean I am the main character, but I will fulfill a noble purpose. With a new year, rather than feeling like a slow death the rest of the year—I hold onto your promises which go decades, centuries, and millennia. I acknowledge the personal disappointments I have felt don’t have to feel as big as they do, you deserve more glory wherever I am on the totem pole, and I’d love more inexpressible joy in the midst of life’s uncertainty.
1 Peter 1: 8-9
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Are you a Christian megalomaniac who needed their ego to drop a few notches? Leave a comment for us and tell us how far the drop was.
Also, in the next few weeks get ready for some new contributors coming from SG? I’m excited for more of their stories and your comments to begin to build up this community of Christian misfits who need a lot more Jesus.
Density in the sense of all the context, redundancy, and dare I say, even apparent inconsistency in the Bible. The Bible is not short. No way is my comment negative since I see all the “density” as creating a giant jigsaw puzzle that does make a lot of sense within itself when put together. But there’s a lot to wade through in the Bible nonetheless.
Webtoons are popular digital comic books. You shouldn’t be surprised if you favorite k-drama is based on a webtoon. I haven’t seen the k-drama Extraordinary You, but heard the premise was interesting. The character finds out she isn’t he main character in her story and tries to change her destiny. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraordinary_You.
John 3:30 (NIV). “He must become greater; I must become less.”
Matthew 11:11, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”