Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Free to Be You

“Make sure you understand what the master wants.” Ephesians 5:17 TM

Living Out of the Wrong Bag
-The Word for You Today

Have you ever mistakenly picked somebody else’s luggage off the conveyer belt at the airport and taken it home? Two seconds after opening it up you discovered – you can’t live out of somebody else’s bag! You can’t wear their clothes or fit into their shoes. So why do we try to? Dad says, “Son, your granddad was a farmer, I’m a farmer, and some day you’ll inherit the farm.” A teacher warns a young girl who wants to be a stay-at-home mom, “Don’t squander your life. With your gifts, you could make it to the top.” Church leaders say, “Jesus was a missionary. Do you want to please Him? Spend your life on foreign soil.” Sound counsel or poor advice? That depends on what God packed in your bag. What if God made the farmer’s son with a passion for literature or medicine? Or gave that girl a love for kids and homemaking? If foreign cultures frustrate you while predictability invigorates you, what are the changes you’d be a happy missionary? “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Ps 139:16 NIV). God gives us eyes for organization, ears for music, hearts that beat for justice, minds that understand physics, hands that love care giving, legs that run and win races. Secular thinking doesn’t buy this. It sees no author behind the book and no purpose behind or beyond life. It says, “You can be anything you want to be.” Wrong! Don’t make their mistake. Don’t live carelessly or unthinkingly. “Make sure you understand what the Master wants.”

Plenty of years struggling to keep my corporate cubicles, I always wondered if there was something else planned for me. I wondered if this was it. A cubicle, phone, computer, an office full of gossipy hens and a boss who micromanaged me until I couldn’t breathe any longer. Is this it for me? The paycheck was always a reward each Friday, but the quality of life was diminishing. I felt an emptiness that never went away. I came home, ate dinner, watched TV and went to bed. My outlet was the gym five o’clock in the morning, shower and off to work. My hobbies were non-existent and my routine became redundant. I sunk into a depression. I hated what I did for a living, but it was the only way I could make that amount of money. Is money everything though? We all have to pay bills. We all have to keep our heads above the water. I wanted out.

Society has us brainwashed into believing that we must hold a significant status in the work force. I was much happier working as a bartender than I was working in the finance department of IBM. I felt like a drone. I walked around like a zombie and my brain completed tasks on its own – almost in a non-human like way. I remembered codes and queries as though it was normal to do this. I began to have a photogenic memory with the figures they threw at me. I knew this, but didn’t “understand” much of it. I even won awards at IBM for the timeliness and accuracy of my job. I didn’t take pride in my job - I simply did this knowing a nice paycheck would follow. I threw my happiness out the door.

Thank God my parents weren’t the type of people who said, “Well do this just like your mom did,” or “you need to do that just like your father!” My mother worked in retail for many years, which I tried because I wanted to follow her footsteps. I ended up hating it. Constantly fixing and folding designer clothes and dealing with nasty customers who belittled me. That soon ended. I’m also grateful I wasn’t persuaded to be an excavation operator, working on bulldozers and backhoes like my dad did. (And thank God I wasn’t born a boy!) I’m even more thankful that he didn’t make me work at the South Street Seaport with him. He even had a fish market/restaurant a little upstate from the city that I used to help out at. I couldn’t bare the thought of grabbing one of those lobsters. They were huge sea roaches to me.

The Future—Determined and Unknown

Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny. ~Ecclesiastes 6:10

“Well, that’s not a logical answer. It’s not realistic.” A lot of people would say. Then again, a lot of people don’t have faith. Sometimes even my faith dims a bit and I start thinking, “When God, when?” It gets frustrating, but I have to remember that it’s all in God’s timing. I get impatient.

Students attend college for marketing, business, nursing or physics and end up working in an office doing data entry or end up in some retail store at the mall. If you ask many of them, they simply say that this was better for them and that the courses they studied in college didn’t suit them very well ‘now’.

What’s the most important thing in life? Family. And I’d like to think that our close friends are our ‘extended family’. The people we love. In my opinion, there’s nothing better than spending quality time with the people we cherish the most enjoying good wine and good food. When people celebrate something, what do they do? They drink, they eat, and they congregate in a joyful way. To do this, most people think you have to obtain some high status job or make a good amount of money to create this beautiful scenario. It takes very little to create a comfortable setting for the ones you love.

Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat well, drink a good glass of wine, and enjoy their work—whatever they do under the sun—for however long God lets them live. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—that is indeed a gift from God. People who do this rarely look with sorrow on the past, for God has given them reasons for joy. ~Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

“Oh give me a break – who likes work anyway?”
{To enjoy your lot in life}- meaning to have passion for whatever it is you do under the sun. Do you have passion for what you do? If you do, you’re luckier than anyone! But if you give me the answer, “Well who’s gonna pay the bills?” Well, let me ask you this. When all the bills are paid up because you worked yourself 24/7, what do you have that you can look back upon that were the most precious moments in life? Are you overworking or are you simply trying to make ends meet without living life and enjoying it?

God wants us to enjoy life. He wants us to live life abundantly and with His blessing. And even if you’re at a job where you absolutely hate it and wish you were somewhere else, try to make it fun. Incorporate your own style into your work and make people laugh. Let them know it’s okay to be human. Make your place of work fun. Then, you’ll see how much better it’ll be. I remember I started working for this company. They were an absolute drag! All of them grumbled every morning, “Mornin’………..” and I would try to lighten it up a bit and screech, “Well good morning! How was your weekend?” Okay, truth be told, some people are just too damn grouchy in the morning before their coffee. Understandable. But if you make your workplace a pleasant area to be, then everyone will want to be included.

Overworking yourself? Come home, eat dinner, put the kids to bed, tidy up before your bedtime and greet your wife/husband hello and goodnight in the same breath? Redundant routines lead to mediocre lives. I recall when I was living with my partner and she worked 24/7. I didn’t realize she was sinking into a depression. It ended up hurting our relationship because I thought she didn’t want to be with me anymore. I seriously thought that she was tired of me, when actually she was tired of work. I would get home at around 7pm, and she got home close to 8:30 and sometimes even past 10pm on rare occasions. Our bank account was plentiful, but we were both very unhappy. These days, we can now see the patterns that nearly destroyed us. We’re aware of them and it’s evident that too much of anything is a bad thing. It’s all about balance.

My balance has been off for a while. See, I don’t “give advice” on my blog and then go on being a huge hypocrite. My life is imbalanced. And as I write this, it helps me to realize what exactly is imbalanced about it and how I can set it straight again. My love for wine sometimes gets imbalanced – let’s not even go there with my love for martinis. I love to go out and enjoy cocktails with friends. But some evenings, I don’t realize how much I drank and end up waking up with a hellish hangover. I know my limits (when I’m sober) and once I hit that buzzed intoxication level, then I think, “Ah, well one more won’t hurt…” I’m not perfect.

We’re all human, which is why sin is inevitable in everyone’s lives. As long as we’re in this human shell of ours, as long as we live on this sinful earth and as long as the sun keeps shining, we will sin and sin over and over and over again.

So then, why did Jesus die on the cross for us?

To free us from the bounds of our human nature. To be what we want to be, and not let anyone else decide your destiny.

Even with sexual “sin” as they call it. We’re human – we are sexual beings. If we love someone, then what is the sin in that?

Regarding sexual sin, the bible says this:

There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away and you have been set apart for God. You have been made right with God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you. ~1 Corinthians 6:11

This doesn’t mean to go out and have sex with just anyone. But two consenting adults who have love one another is blessed by God. Again, it’s simply the fact that people just don’t fully accept what Jesus has done for us on the cross. It all boils down to this… A lot of people don’t have enough faith in what Jesus did for us. Do they think that Jesus’ sacrifice was inadequate or not enough? Do they even take the crucifixion seriously? I wonder. More so, I pray for them that one day they won’t be bound to the law and they come to terms to what’s been given to them out of love.

Live your life, enjoy your life and spread the good news!