By Joe Torosian
“How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
— Exodus 33: 16
This is an important date in my life.
In fact, March 26th is probably the most critical moment in my life.
Double fact: If I hadn’t followed through on something on this date many moons and months ago my life would have been altered forever.
But for now, have you ever thought about what distinguishes you?
What is your signature?
Family, race, ethnicity, creed, country, sexual identity, talent, game, lack of game, intellect, political party… When people see you, what do they see?
How do you desire to be defined?
After a lot of living, a lot of fun, a lot of good times, and a lot of pats on the back, I’ve come to the realization I want to be known as a good father.
Yes, I want to be the best husband I can be, but my wife is old enough to discern her way through my failures and successes.
Maturity allows peers to take their own steps, learn from their own mistakes, to grow. Not saying growth is automatic, but the opportunity is there.
This is how really good people survive deep losses and pains.
Maturity, not in gray hair or wrinkles, but in our walk with the Lord, a sustained walk in full sympathy of what he desires for us, is the mechanism allowing us to advance through both bad and darkness.
On the other hand, a bad father of poor temperament and lacking the will to instruct his impressionable children…well, we know, can scar for life.
So I want to be distinguished as a good father…but how do I do that?
What books do I read? What seminars do I attend? Who should I seek counsel from? Who should I run to?
I run to Christ. I live by his word, I serve his will.
Good stuff, but here’s the rub. When being defined, is the first thing that comes to mind: “He’s a great father… Who happens to be a Christian”?
Or should it be; “He’s a Christian and that is why he’s a great father”?
If I want to be a great dad, I need to have a great relationship with my heavenly father.
The same holds true to be a good mom, a good teacher, a good preacher, a good business man, a good doctor, a good lawyer…
What will always make me better, what will distinguish me from all the people on the face of the earth is a relationship and a life lived in and through Jesus Christ.
This needs to be my signature, this needs to be our signature, this needs to be what defines us before all people.
My perspective needs to shift from wanting to be a great dad, to being a firm believer/follower of Christ. By living as such, this will make me better as a father, as a husband, as anything else I, or you, invest in.
This is something we should long for.
The great line from Thoreau: “All want not something to do, but something to be.”
What else is there to desire? What else is truly eternal, what else will comfort me in my youth, in my advanced age, or my middle age?
What will never go away?
I want to be distinguished not by what I’ve done, but by whom I belong to. Not by how I make a living, but by he who makes life worth living.
I was a Christian on the evening of March 25th, 1983. I was also selfish, a pretty good basketball player, a confirmed republican, sensitive to some, bad to others, driving a pinto, going to JC, I had long hair, a great knowledge of sports, a 32-inch waist, was good to my mom, and far too cocky.
Anyone of those things was my signature…but being a Christian wasn’t.
On Saturday morning March 26th, 1983 I stepped on a bus headed for Mexicali, Mexico. It was my first mission trip. I got two showers all week, no running water, and was completely out of my element.
A point came where I realized I needed God. I needed a Lord, not a complement to all the things I already was but a clarifier of person.
I had to humble and efface myself to him. It wasn’t easy, It wasn’t like changing a jersey, but more like picking up a cross…And who are you going to be identified with when you are carrying a cross?
It has been a long growth in grace, but the provider of that grace, the one who died on the cross, the one who came out of the tomb, the one who resides within, he is my signature.
The one who distinguishes me…and all of us who call him Lord.