The day was unlike any other. The sun high and shining in it’s glory. The wind a gentle breeze, slowing moving the scattered clouds across the sky. Everyone was looking at me, but I was just looking for her (sounds like a Hallmark Commercial). My palms sweating, and my mouth dry. That nervous twitch I get in my hand? Yeah, that was twitching like a boss but nobody else noticed. Where is she? I searched the glass front of the country club, trying to spot her walking towards the door to the outside.
Then I saw her. My bride. Walking towards me.
A moment I’ve waited for my whole life (even though I was only 21). It’s was if time slowed. I didn’t see my groomsmen, the bridesmaids, the guests or my family. I didn’t even see my father-in-law who was holding her hand. I just saw her. I just saw Melissa.
Her dark hair ran down the front of her white wedding dress. The picture of beauty, still the same in my eyes today. Our eyes met and suddenly it was just us. I remember holding her trembling hands in mine, and we stared with eyes wide and smiles beaming. The day we have both longed for had come, our wedding day. August 14, 2011.
Now almost nine years later, that day is a memory. When I think about our wedding I can recall the finest details; the scenery, our family and friends, the funny jokes and the intimate moments. But you know what really mattered the most that day? I became joined with someone else. It wasn’t just about me anymore.
We made vows to each other. “For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer…”That’s only a couple of lines, and already there’s a lot packed into those wedding vows. You’re literally making an oath to your spouse. For life. Through thick and thin. You’re thinking about someone other than yourself.
It’s not all about me. It’s not all about you. It’s also about others.
“Do unto others (my emphasis) whatever you would like them to do to you.”Matthew 7:12 NLT Version
If only people heeded that message today, this world would be a better place. Just imagine the ramifications if people actually treated each other that way they wanted to be treated?
That is the direction we are going today. When you put others first, you find all of a sudden you don’t take things for granted as often.
Ahhh yes, I remember the mornings when I would roll out of bed, throw on my PJ’s, grab some Captain Crunch and watch the sports highlights on the TV. Me. Myself. And I.
Then sitting back in the evening, eating a full pack of Kraft Dinner (my body can’t handle that no more, as my Dad bod shows) playing some Xbox. After that I’d sometimes move over to my computer and play some World of Tanks until 11pm before calling it a night.
No commitments. No wife. No children. No chickens.
That all changed the day I got married and had children.
Now when I wake up, Melissa is lying there next to me. Playing games till midnight whenever I want? Nope. I’d feel zombified, as my children don’t acknowledge my desire to sleep in. Now I have family to actually spend time with. Life has changed.
I’ve had to adjust, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Yet you can’t be prepared for these changes. It just happens and you change with it, and that’s a process. It’s funny because some days I look back and think, “Man I wish I just had some alone time.” I then recall the excitement in my children’s voice when I walk in through the door from a long day at work, and they can’t wait to spend time with their Dad.
Sure my day sucked, but theirs just reached the peak, watching me walk in. Seeing their reaction makes my day better, because it’s not just about me. It’s about them too.
Sometimes in the mornings I roll over in bed, looking forward to a little extra sleep. Usually this doesn’t happen though because Benaiah and Railene suddenly appear by my bedside. I want more sleep. Yet they want their dad to make breakfast. It’s not just about me. It’s about them too. So I crawl out of bed.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to paint a picture that I do everything perfectly. Far from it. There are days I royally mess up and I just want to be alone. For the whole day.
“It’s okay to desire a break Christian.” You may say.
I get that. Everyone needs a break. If you don’t believe that, you’ll probably burn out then you’ll be no use to anyone. To think you can be some super spouse or parent that doesn’t need alone time and that you have to always be giving of yourself with no alone time, is just plain foolishness.
What I am talking about is the desire for “Me me me” and the focus on my wants starts to affect my outlook on my family and friends, and I just start shutting people out and assume they will be there when I am ready.
A very real and self centred view. Sadly one that is very predominant in our society today.
As a Christian, I really battle with that side of me. However I have learned that God’s grace is sufficient in my weakness, that I don’t have to be good enough, or strong enough. Rather His strength helps me and I am brought back around to remember that caring and serving others is a prime element of being a Christian.
The Telegram That Went Around The World
That image above is a recreation of the telegraph sent by William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. The story goes he sent this out as a Christmas message to all missionaries of the Salvation Army. Due to the sheer number of missionaries all over the world, the cost would have been exorbitant.
There was no internet, email, cell phones, instagram back in the late 1800’s. Booth couldn’t pick up the phone and be like, “Hey bro, I hear you’re in a tough spot in the middle of a forest with no food, no water and some of the locals want to take you out. So I have an encouraging word for you.”
No, communication was done through telegraph. Using morse code to transmit a message to another station, bounced from another station to another and so on all over the globe. So when Booth prepared a short message, the story goes the operator laughed and told him he wouldn’t have near enough money to send what he had written. He informed Booth that in order to send a telegraph to his missionaries he would have to send one word.
So he had a choice to make. What message would you send to all your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are scattered across the globe? Some in hostile environments badly in need of encouragement.
“Love”? How about “Faith” or “Hope” ? William Booth didn’t chose those words. Instead he chose: “Others.”
S.S. Empress of Ireland
I once heard that story about William Booth when I went to Happy Valley Goose Bay, located in Newfoundland and Labrador. I went with two other friends as representatives of Linking Hearts Ministries with the goal for praying for the people of Labrador, and to fellowship with different people from multiple denominations and backgrounds. It was a wonderful time and an eye opening experience, as we met in homes, churches and explored the region.
One evening our group went to the Moravian church in Goose Bay. As I sat in a pew in this small building, I questioned why I was even there? What was my purpose? My mind couldn’t help but wander towards different reasons why I wasn’t qualified to even have ventured to Labrador in the first place. After a short introduction, the minister asked if I could sing a song I wrote. After finishing the song I returned to my seat and listened to another minister tell the story of the S.S. Empress of Ireland. A passenger ship that sunk in the St Lawrence River.
It was May 29, 1914 and the passenger ship was leaving Canada bound for England. It was suddenly struck by another large ship carrying coal in the middle of the night in heavy fog, causing catastrophic damage as a massive tear in the hull resulted in freezing sea water filling the ship quickly.
As the ship began to sink, passengers desperately made for the life boats as the vessel began to list significantly. The minister in Goose Bay continued.
He said there was a group of young men who were in the Salvation Army. They had taken off their life jackets and handed them to the women and children, in an effort to save them. These young men must have knew they were going to die, yet they made the ultimate sacrifice.
Many people froze to death in the water or drowned, and the ship was finished off by an explosion which caused the ship to break apart. The loss of life was enormous: of the 1,477 people onboard, 1,012 deaths compared to the Titanic at 1,517 deaths. It still is Canada’s worst maritime disaster.
As the minister closed his message, he told us something I never forgot. After the sinking of the Empress of Ireland some of the survivors recalled what those young men had said to them as they were handed the life jackets.
Let me be real with you. I’ve been distracted lately, completing projects around the house and in my leisure time just doing whatever comes to my mind that makes me feel good.
Been feeling alot of me, me and me. But yet even with focusing on me, I feel restless? Why? The other day I prayed for guidance for finding my purpose.
I listened to a sermon yesterday by Pastor Craig Groeschel with LifeChurch and he was talking about purpose. With the question: What’s your purpose in life?
I then remember me sitting in the pew at the Moravian church, feeling unqualified to even be there. Pastor Craig said that when you serve God in obedience, for the benefit of others, you then find your purpose.
It then clicked: when I focus on what I believe God wants me to do, which involves serving and helping others (like me writing a song and singing it for the church congregation) I then know my purpose. When I take the focus off me and put it on others, I find peace.
I leave you with that today. I am not sure where your walk in life is leading you, but I do know that when you start thinking about others, and less about you, your path becomes clearer.