Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Would You Rather...?

Perhaps you've heard of the popular question-driven game. It's fueled by ridiculous never-happen scenarios: some are fun and some are just outright disturbing.  
For example,

Would you rather write a best-selling novel or be an expert at picking stocks?
Would you rather stay in a luxury hotel free of charge for one year or have a chauffeur driven limousine free of charge for one year?
Would you rather have one year off at your current rate of pay or work your current job for a year at double your current rate of pay? 

and the more challenging ones:
Would you rather have to leave the country you now live in and be unable to return or spend the rest of your life being unable to make more than minimum wage? 
Would you rather have an ugly scar across your face or lose 15 points of intelligence?
 Would you rather have your first child when you are 19 years old or when you are 45 years old?

Which brings me to my initial thought. Reflection on this game was prompted by a Facebook photo of friends vacationing in Hawaii.  Their photos conjured up delicious memories of my time there and all the years since when I've longed to return.  Distance from friends and family aside, I'd move there in a flash. To me, it's paradise.
But vacationing there any time soon remains a wispy cloud on the horizon. And I'm okay with that...really.

Until I see pictures of friends enjoying themselves there, and I have to fight everything to keep from being frog-green with envy. Not pretty, but honest.
As my mind quickly volleyed to the next thought, without deliberation, I contemplated how much money we spent on having children the last five years.  Delivery fees, clothes, food, insurance, education, illness, etc., etc.
Just as quickly I berated myself:
Would you rather have children or go to Hawaii for vacation every other year? 

You see, these precious friends are our age, live in Missouri, work steady jobs... and don't have children. Thus, they can afford it.  Now, some of you have children and can still afford going to Hawaii on vacation. I will try my best not to disdain you.  I'm kidding... kind of.  Sorry, I will try to get to a more spiritual state.

I don't want to discuss all the merits of raising a family. I don't want to explore how having children morphs your character into a more Christ-like version.  I don't want to debate the theological command to be fruitful or how having a family is God's design. I don't want to talk about being old and having no one. I don't want to talk about all the perks remaining childless can bring someone. I don't want to offend anyone because I realize some people just can't have children, regardless of their desires.

No, I don't want to talk about any of that. I want to talk about the heart of my dilemma.  I love to work. I really do. Now, most of that love comes from an idolatrous motivation to find identity in success and achievement and even money (God's working on that too...He has a lot on the burners). But, I'm not the kind of person who wants to lounge around every week, getting manicures and spending excessive funds on new clothes.  Still, once a year, I want to go on a really nice vacation. I feel like I've earned it.  And growing up in the family I did, I've come to expect it.  Bottom line: I feel entitled. Gosh, I hate that word, and I hate it even more when I see it in myself. At its root is a festering pride that says, "I am worth it."

I think I need to get back to some questions that lead me to a heart of gratitude:

Would you rather live in a nice home with all the comforts of modern conveniences or have to walk five miles to get dirty water for washing and drinking?
Would you rather live in a country that allows you to go to church whenever and wherever you please, or live in fear of being shot for worshiping Jesus?
Would you rather have a loving husband who supports you and considers your heart and dreams, or have someone who misunderstands and argues with everything you say?

Would you rather believe your life is hard, or know it is? 
Do I even have a clue?
And yet, I am whining about not getting to vacation in Hawaii?

And as remarkable as it is, the one who owes us nothing but death gave us the greatest pardon gift of all.
    Romans 5:8
    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
     I feel a need to ask some of the questions Jesus asked, getting my thoughts onto something more significant. Eric von Atzigen, pastor and blogger poses 135 questions Jesus asked in the Gospels. Here are a few.
      1. Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? (Mark 8:17-18)
      2. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26)
      3. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:27)
      4. Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)
      5. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? (John 5:44)
      6. Do you love me? (John 21:17)

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