Open Text: No, it’s not December. This post should be dated in December. No excuses to proclaim, just a lot of time with family and friends.
I am excited to pick up where I left off. The only change I’m making is not posting weekly, but rather posting as I am inspired to do so. Thanks for sharing the journey.
I was sitting in church America after being away from it for nine months. The nine months of separation was not due to a holy crusade I embarked on against the “religious establishment”. I had tried that as a teenager. It was hip and irresistible and I liked to be both, but ultimately I was worse off for having disengaged in the activity of church altogether. It’s cool though, I was hip — and thought I was irresistible.I don’t want to leave the impression that I was not involved in church. The community in Taiwan I had been a part of for the past nine months gathered for meetings once a week. During those meetings we worshiped, prayed for one another, introduced new people to the community, and someone always brought an encouraging word. This sounds a lot like church, I know. Maybe thats the definition of church. I’m open for interpretation.
I was sitting in church America, padded chair for maximum comfortability, this past Sunday. It was around minute thirty that I was uncomfortably moved. The sermon the pastor gave, even the point he had made in the moment, loosely correlated with my uncontrollable and uncomfortable perspiration. I’m talking first degree perspiration. Front, back, underarms — you name it. The sermon’s topic was “Our Unlikely Adventure as Christ Chooses,” but it was the pastor’s two sentence rabbit trail that induced the sweat. My mind, of course, was the rabbit trail and his point
had nothing to do with where the rabbit hole had taken me. This was the choice week to upload a post I had been sitting on for a few weeks about glory and our pursuit of it. It was at this moment, in the extra-wide plum church chair, that I realized I had to scrap the whole thing. Verbatim, I cannot tell you what he said but the sentence loosely followed the structure of, “blog, get followers, having something to say, gaining likes, finding identity.”
Identifying and finding self-worth in my work is not a new struggle. But as each sentence entered my ear, I realized that I had again prioritized my identity inside work rather than the glory of God. In prioritizing my identity through work, I was/am ultimately putting my identity in my glory and my kingdom. I had compiled a work on God’s glory. In fact, I had hoped to post it back in December. Now, it makes complete sense as to why I sat on it this long. It doesn’t matter what I had originally written — because it was rubbish. Absolute rubbish. And if we want to talk statistics I’d say the work was 80 % Kingdom Nick, 10% Kingdom God, 10 % Lost in Translation. Hopefully these statistics have changed.
I was reminded in the moment of those few sentences that an identity aligned with anything but God and His kingdom is an identity that is self-seeking and self-serving. An identity which serves no purpose outside of itself.
Early December I was sitting in a wooden pew with hundreds of others during a memorial service for a man by the name of Don Gillman. Others have written far better accounts of his character. This man lived a life as one wholly captivated by God, His kingdom, and the advancement of His kingdom. It is nearly impossible to not be captivated by a man who is not captivated with himself. It is entirely impossible to not be captivated by a man who was completely captivated by God. I assume Don would be honored and flattered by those who came from all over the world, and flattered that many loved ones sat in the pews at his memorial service. But I would wager that he cared not about the honor he received. I would wager that “Don loved God, and loved Him well,” would be what he cared to hear most. We were gathered in this room with high vaulted ceilings, fantastic acoustics, and an ancient organ, to honor a man who sought no glory for himself, but glory for the one who deserves the glory.
There is a chest that lies deep within me. The chest is beautifully crafted and adorned with the most choice turquoise gems. The lock itself is suitable to hold the riches of royalty. The beauty of this chest is the illusion. The chest and its outward appearance is meant to lead you to believe its contents are of extreme value. The reality of the contents, I expose here. Inside the box is a small script with a simple dialogue between God and I.
“God, I want to live a life that most glorifies you,” I tell him with some fervor.
“Absolutely,” my fervor intensifies.
“Following me leaves no glory for yourself,” He speaks gently. These words sting in equal proportion to the measure I want His glory.
“God, come on! You know your glory is top priority.” The words leave me half contorted. My words fail to give a suitable disguise to hide priority number two.
“There is no top priority, but one priority. My glory and my kingdom,” He spoke gently.
There is a bit of liberty felt once my desire for Nick (my glory and my kingdom) is exposed — (to be a) married man, musician, writer, father, runner, whatever I am and wherever I am the calling is to live a life the most glorifies Him, His kingdom and His glory. But you bet your bottom dollar that I want a sliver of the glory. Apart from the pursuit of God and His glory the only purpose in life is to pursue the fame of oneself.
as I write…
I want part of the glory…
Just a slice of the precious.
Even that last sentence… hopefully you think I am a bit cooler.
I just completed a nine-month course that plowed through the Word of God. Someone asked me this Sunday if I am boiling over with Bible knowledge and wisdom. Sure, I could tell you that Assyria was defeated by Babylon in 612 B.C. or that in 49 A.D. there was a council that gathered together in Jerusalem to talk about circumcision and salvation. Do I feel wiser? I guess we will see by how I act. Do I know more facts? Sure — well maybe. One thing I know for certain, an identity that seeks the glory of God is the only identity worth living for. It is the only identity that truly promotes other-focused living. It is an identity that leads you, not to think less of yourself or think greater of yourself, but to think of yourself less. An identity that seek not the glory of oneself, but the glory of the One who rightfully owns and deserves it.
Don never wanted a piece of the glory pie and he lived a life of true significance. In the pursuit of God’s glory and the laying down of his own, he left a legacy of significance. I’d like to live a life with the same focus. In the spirit of the New Year I propose a lifestyle that does not give-a-damn about one’s glory in prestige, Instagram followers, income, work, fill in the blank, and move further from personal kingdom and closer to His kingdom.
I propose this, of course, as a man who has largely pursued his own kingdom.