By Joe Torosian
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.”
— Luke 14: 26
Do you remember when it stopped being about you?
This is not a trap to come back and say; it’s still about you and, yada, yada, yada, you better clean up your act.
No, I’m curious if you remember the moment your joy became willingly, willfully, completely tied to another’s joy?
Contemplating the happiest moments of my life, I considered victories and they paled. I considered my wedding day and while it was a blessing at the moment it was occurring (yes, I was happy for my wife), inwardly I was extremely happy for myself. Of course, you should be happy when you get married, but it’s hard for me to look back and not have a sense of my immaturity. I was really happy for me. Yes, for Ana, yes, for those that loved us… but it was still about me.
Personal accomplishments were okay, but they fell short. I never wanted to be called to the ministry, but there has been a certain pride taken in following the call, going on a staff, and getting ordained…but happiest moment of my life? No.
Then my three daughters came to mind…And this isn’t about how much I love my kids…we all love our kids…so stay with me.
Three specific moments came to mind where they smiled, and the smile, in the moment they were in, had nothing to do with me. There was a joy, all theirs, which brought joy to me.
Their smiles didn’t shorten my work day. Their smiles didn’t build my bank account. Their smiles didn’t give me another week of vacation, make me taller, thinner, better looking, or increase my vertical leap.
They were just happy…and I was happy because they were happy. In fact, when I replay the joys of my daughters in my memory, I’m more than happy. I am overwhelmed to the point of optical mist
These are the happiest moments of my life. Moments I’ll take with me when I cross the river to rest under the shade of trees.
Yet, and I know this was the long way around the bend, my children (Creations of God added to my life, unnecessary as to my salvation, but given by him to bring joy), I fear loving my children more than I love my God.
I pray forgiveness for loving the creation and the gift more than my creator…and my savior.
It’s tough to reconcile because it wasn’t until later in life I understood what my mom was saying when she said she would give her right arm or anything else for her children.
Myself, my brothers, and my sister we were her joy.
This perspective has to be wrestled out in faith. I don’t believe it can be settled with smart guy thinking or intellect.
Would God have given us Jesus if we weren’t his joy?
As we live in accordance with his word, he delights in us…we, us, bring the creator of the universe joy in our simplest obedience.
So in and how I relate to the best things he has added to my life, I have to keep in perspective his place in the order of things.
I love the creation, I love the gift, but I love the giver more. I will not rob him of the joy he takes in me (the joy he takes in all of us), by giving it to another.
“I have to cleanse myself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit until both are in accord with the nature of God. Is the mind of my spirit in perfect agreement with the life of the Son of God in me, or am I insubordinate in intellect?”
— Oswald Chambers
The moments I’ve recorded in my heart and memory of my daughters smiling…are the same moments the Lord sees and experiences with all of us.
The difference being I would never dream, contemplate, or consider giving up any of my children (creations and gifts of God) for any of you.
But God gave his son for all of us… For our salvation and…our joy!