I've been thinking a lot lately about what kind of an impact I'm making in my life on the people around me, my kids, and the world in general. I guess it's that looming 40th birthday rearing it's head again, but I suppose everyone gets to a point in their life where they wonder if they are making a difference. It's interesting as I look back over my life and see the path I've taken to get where I am today, there is one common thread binding it all together: God. He has definitely been guiding and leading me, sometimes in surprising directions I would never have gone on my own. I often look back and wonder, "how in the world did I get here?"
As I've admitted before, while I believe in God's sovereignty, I really don't understand how that works with our free will. It's a mystery we won't fully understand this side of heaven. Nevertheless, looking back with some perspective, it's clear that God is in complete control even as we go about our lives making decisions on a daily basis. I truly have few regrets in life. That's not to say I haven't made some bad decisions, believe me I have, but hopefully I've learned from those decisions and grown through the process. I believe that everything we go through shapes who we are and what we will become. We can either let our circumstances steer us in a negative direction or ask God to help us grow into the person He wants us to become. I find a lot of comfort in the fact that I can royally screw something up and yet God will take that and turn it into a positive. It doesn't mean there aren't consequences to our actions and decisions, because there certainly are, it just means that we don't have to be destroyed by them if we mess up. Isn't that exactly the message of the gospel, God's unmerited grace coming into our messed up lives.
Of course not everything we go through is because of a decision we've made, sometimes God allows things to happen that we have to deal with, both good and bad. It's not only the negative things that shape us. In fact as I reflect on my journey thus far, there has been much more good than bad and I'm just as much shaped by those experiences.
So how does all of this impact those around me now? While I believe this life is about God's pursuit of us and us growing closer to Him, it's just as much about us connecting with other people. We're not walking this journey alone, we're all walking it together and if my story can encourage those around me to pursue a deeper relationship with God, I can find great fulfillment in that. As a society that worships celebrity, we often feel like we aren't making a difference if we can't touch millions of people on a daily basis. But in reality, if we are touching those around us and they in turn around them and so on we are making a bigger impact than we realize. We're strengthened as we share our story with others and as they share theirs with us.
As a father my prayer is that I can use what God has taught me thus far and impart it to my kids in a way that they will understand. I know they won't always listen or take my advice and that's fine. They need to walk their own path and learn to trust God as He guides and leads them. But I do hope that they will take my words to heart and that it helps them in some way. I believe it is my role as a parent to prepare my kids for the journey God has laid out for them not to control every detail of their lives. Though I admit I struggle with letting go of that control sometimes.
I pray that as a husband I would love and serve my wife in a way that is honoring to God. I pray that as a coach I can teach more than basketball and softball to my athletes and that I can impart life lessons that will help them on their journeys. I pray that as a deacon, I will serve humbly and willingly and be more aware of those in need around me. I pray that as an employee that I would honor God through my work and serve my clients in a way that glorifies God. I pray that I would love my neighbor as myself. I pray that the little bit of money we give to Compassion for our sponsored child in Columbia would go a lot further than I can imagine and will be used to deepen his relationship with God and end the cycle of poverty in his family.
I'm not sure I've done a very good job at any of these things at times. Yet, my hope lies in the fact that God is not through with me yet. I'm not the same person I was 10 years ago and I won't be the person I am today 10 years from now. That's the beauty of having a relationship with the Lord and creator of the universe. He's always molding us into something greater than we can become on our own.
Lord, continue to make me into the person you want me to be.