….And father, and leader.
There are so many things that which I fail at, that, in the eyes of the world, one would think that I am a failure. Sure, I have my successes, like a family that loves me and that I love. But, on that same note, I am a horrible leader of my family. So many decision that I make are irrational and/or illogical. We have been married over six years, and our oldest child is five-and-a-half years old this month, and we are just starting to do family devotions, something I’ve always wanted to do and was reinforced about doing last year when I read a book on family worship.
Right now, I am struggling with my failures to of not being able to get a job. Obviously, I am somewhat desirable in the workplace, or my resumé wouldn’t garner the amount of interviews I have gotten. But, I haven’t got a full-time job. I’ve gotten more turn down emails and letters in the past two months than jobs I’ve applied to up to this point in my life. It’s disheartening for me, very stressful. And I feel like I’m constantly doing something wrong, like it’s my fault that I keep messing everything up. This very morning, I had what seems like a very promising interview, however, it may be a couple weeks before I hear anything back about that. All the while, we are living with my parents, and we are ready to have our own place. That is just frustrating as can be(sorry mom and dad, I love you, but, the 4, almost 5, of us need our own space). It’s truly been a struggle for me in so many way.
My wife is also very stressed out and struggling with everything. She’s 20-something weeks pregnant with our third child(A girl!), and plans on being a stay-at-home mom and home school teacher to our children, and she’s ready to have our own space. The four of us sleeping in a single 11ft x 11ft room is very difficult, and most of the time quite uncomfortable. And for her, being pregnant, I think she’s getting less and less sleep each night.
Oh how I miss the time at the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes when we had a steady income, free housing, no utilities we had to pay, and a vast majority of our food provided for us. It having been a month this coming weekend that we have been living with my parents, and we are still there. Our plan was to move, me get a job and we be out before the month of May began. And here we are, May 14th, still in that tiny room. I suck. I feel like I’m a failure of a father. A failure of a husband. I failure of a man.
It was one night, sitting at the dining room table that has been in my family for as long as I remember(at least 26 years, as that’s as far back as I remember having it before my family moved to south Florida), feeling like this, like a failure, that God spoke to me through His Word. I kept remembering “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” That kept going through my head all that night and into the next day, and the day after that. After three or four days, I finally opened up my Bible and looked for that text. I know it was Paul who wrote it, so, then, naturally, I Googled it:
2 Corinthians 12:1–10 (ESV, emphasis added by me)
1 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
There is it. All through my life, things have come with relative ease to me, a true blessing from God to me, a depraved, wretched, unworthy servant of God. I had come from a relatively well-to-do family, who lost most everything financially when I was a teenager. Up until a certain point in life(I don’t remember when, but it was after I married Roni) that I had gotten an offer from every job I applied for. I got accepted to all the colleges and universities I applied for out of high school. I was well liked within my youth group, with many expecting me to be a missionary, living overseas by now in some remote village winning souls for Christ(which, I might add, I am not doing..yet). I’ve bee groomed for success in some way or another throughout much of my life. And yet, there is one thing that I keep on forgetting with my endeavors, especially as of late. Well, two things really…
The first thing would be my sin of self. Not selfishness, but self. Self-reliance. I can do it on my own. I’ve done it on my own. Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians, “4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”( Philippians 3:4–6, ESV). Now, I am not of the tribe of Benjamin or a Pharisee, or a Hebrew of Hebrews, but I am, and have been, an overly confident man, confident of my abilities to get things done with little or no effort involved from my part. However, that is not the case. God has provided for me, even when I haven’t had any idea that he has been helping me. And, there have been many a time when I have known it was entirely from God that my good was coming. But, overall, I have been overconfident in myself and haven’t been relying on God as I should.
Right now, as we, my family and I, face these times of uncertainty with employment and everything, I strongly believe that God is humbling me and teaching me to be more reliant on Him. And, this leads to the second thing that I keep on forgetting: God’s complete and total sovereignty. “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” (Psalm 115:3, ESV). There is nothing that I do or that happens that isn’t part of God’s plan. Our God is sovereign in all that he does, and we need to recognize that. He has a plan and is going to use everything that happens for good(Romans 8:28).
So, during this time, I am going to live by the words from James 1: “2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4, ESV). And I am going to “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV). And, I am going to let God us me: “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” (2 Corinthians 1:3–5, ESV). And, while doing all of this, I am going to trust in God’s sovereignty, knowing that His plan for our time of difficulty is perfect and perfect for us. I know that we are going to come out on the other side of this as better people, a stronger family, and with a great testimony to God’s greatness and provision.
So, I guess I am not really a horrible husband or father or leader. I guess I am not a total and complete failure, at least, no more than the next Christian man. What I am is a depraves sinner saved by God’s grace, God’s saving grace which He extended to me all those years ago. And, as long as I strive to Glorify God in all that I say and do, I am being the husband and father and man that I am needed to be. While there is always room for improvement, I know that God will be glorified in what I do.
Soli Deo Gloria!
*EDIT* I didn’t mean to publish this when I did, I meant to save it. One thing that makes me the successful man that I am is Christ, and that I am in Christ. Without Christ, I have nothing. I am nothing. Without Christ, I would be dead in sin. Being that I am in Christ, Christ is my strength. Christ makes it possible for me to be successful, because Christ is my success for me. And that is what I boast in. That is what makes me not a failure. And to that, To God Alone Be The Glory! Soli Deo Gloria!