My children call talking about yourself as, “You do you”. As I come to another birthday, I get it, but when it comes to telling your own story there really are two options. The first is “You do You” which is very common and the second might be best expressed as “God did me.” One story is full of self while the other is self full of God. I am a Christian by conviction not by heritage and I take the second option when telling my story. One thing Jesus said would illustrate why, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full”.
I think my conception came with great pleasure for my parents but my birth was another matter and the jury is perhaps out on my life. Of course that makes me no different to almost any person - conceived in pleasure, birthed through pain, and living somewhere in between.
If this life can be reduced to a box full of ashes then I consider reducing my life to a three point conversation is reasonable. You might be thinking that if life can be reduced to three points it can’t be much of a life or the words are enormous. Personally I think you can’t get fuller words than faith, hope and love.
From a faith perspective my parents were church senders. They sent me to Sunday School so I would learn to be good while they stayed home. The only reason I could see for them staying home was that they had already learnt to be good. It didn’t take long for me to think mum and dad needed to be in church with me. Equally, it didn’t take long for me to realise that Sunday School made not a shred of difference when it came to being good. I still wanted to lock horns with my mother while the wooden spoon was in the draw or my father’s belt remained in his pants. I have often thought I should have said to my dad as the belt came out, “Stop Dad, think about this. It was taking your belt off in the first place that created the trouble you are about to address.”
I didn’t learn what my parents hoped for. I learnt instead that being good was beyond me and that mostly my heart was not in it. That is really quite complex when you think about it. The good you want to do you don’t and the stuff you don’t want to do you do. That confusion offers no fullness of life but empties it. That complexity is not confined to childhood.
While going to church to learn to be good was a failure, it was not a complete loss. There I learnt about living by faith. I learnt to put my faith in the loving actions of God to do for me what I could not do for myself. I discovered that what the spoon or belt couldn’t do, the punishment Christ carried on the cross helped me to do. Undeserved love and forgiveness are great motivations for a full and changed life. You could say, “God did me” and has proven worthy of trust.
You can do you but everything then depends on you. Alternatively you can let God do you and trust in His dependability.
I can’t tell you how many times in 61 years people have told me faith is a blind jump, but in 61 years I have learnt that those people have no idea what faith is. I taught my children about the “leap of faith” when they would leap into the loving arms of their father. It was not a blind jump but a jump made possible by their faith in the father they knew would catch them. It has been 61 years of experiencing God’s reliability that has developed my trust in Him and my willingness to leap. And with this faith has come hope, the topic for next week.