Worth It All?

I think I’ve said before that I grew up in a conservative independent Baptist church. The name of the church was “South Jersey Baptist Church”. It was on Townbank Road in North Cape May. Google it when you have absolutely nothing to do.

And in that church of my youth, I aquired my theology. My Dad, Ron Varner, is one of the best expository preachers I know…even to this day. But before each sermon, we’d sing hymns. Not familiar with hymns? Hymns were songs you’d sing in the church service from a book called a hymnal that had not only the words to the songs, but also the music; the notes, the keys, the parts for soprano, tenor, alto, and bass. Ah, hymns. What memories.

One hymn I remember in particular, “When We See Christ” held these words in its chorus: “It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus. Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ….”

Wanna be a hymn-star? Click here, and you’ll be centerstage for a “When We See Christ” Karaoke Jam. Sing as loud and as badly as you’d like. Especially if you’re reading this at a public library computer.

You back from your World Tour? Good.

The reason I was thinking about this hymn is because I’ve been extraordinarily busy recently (comparatively speaking) and I want to be sure that what I’m doing is worth anything. Can you imagine going through life living each day and at some point looking back and seeing no evidence that you did anything good?

Now, I know there’s a line of thinking among some Christians that goes something like this, “Do your best and God will take care of the rest.” But what if the best that I’m doing isn’t even something God is interested in taking care of the rest of? In a nutshell: Is what I spend my discretionary time doing in line with what God would have me do?

It’s a thought that can really haunt you if you let it. But I take it as a leveling tool when the thought arises in my mind. I suppose you just might go crazy if you’re paranoid that whatever you’re doing at any given moment is displeasing your Creator who created you for something other than what currently fills your time.

All of this is simply another angle of the deep-rooted desire to do something that matters. So, I ask questions of myself like:
1. Will what I’m doing today make a difference in a year? In 20 years?
2. Does what I’m doing with my life now represent a heart and life that is passionate for God and people? Or does it represent a mind focused primarily on myself?
3. (For parents of kids still under your roof): If my child(ren) were to follow my example, would I be proud of the people they become?

There’s a realignment that can happen when I ask hard questions of myself. That is, if I actually realign anything. It’s one thing to see a misalignment. It’s quite another to do something about it.

So that I don’t spend my life chasing my tail, I’d like to try and put legs to these thoughts. Here are some things I can do to bring this to life:
1. Evaluate life on a daily, even hourly basis. Did what I just spend that hour on draw me closer to God’s design for my life, further, or did I just “mark time”? (Some might argue the third is impossible.)
2. Intentionally pass on what I know. Someone once said, “If you want to impress people, talk about your successes. But if you want to impact people, talk about your failures.” Successes or failures, I want my kids to know that their Dad is going to be honest with all of it. I want to take every chance to teach my kids not just what is right, but why its right. Case in point: 15 minutes ago I was standing at the bus stop with my son. He and another boy were talking about whether they prefer doctor visits or dentists visits and the pros and cons of each. A third boy walked up from down the street who also rides their bus, and without a word he raised his fists with his first 2 fingers extended like a gun and “shot” my son and his friend. And then declared “There. You’re dead.” And while for the most part I chalk that up to “they’re boys”, I also am keenly aware of the influence of society through media, internet, movies, cartoons, and video games in the hearts and minds of children and adults alike. But in those moments at the bus stop this morning I squandered an opportunity to not only teach my own son, but also those 2 other boys as well. “Lighten up Jerry, they’re boys playing with fake guns.” Well, if we don’t give kids the right perspective on things like that we shouldn’t be surprised at the horrible epidemic of school violence, not to mention sexual deviance, hatred, and substance abuse. So, I want to pass on what I know.
3. I want to live unashamedly loving Jesus. I want my kids to know that I would lay down my life for my wife, but that Jesus laid down His life for me. How can I do anything but turn my all over to Him. The truth is, God’s wrath is coming to this world. But God’s love has already come. And that love of God is only found in the person of Jesus who died in my place so that I don’t have to fear the coming wrath. Those aren’t popular words today, but they are necessary and true. And no matter what, I want my kids to know (beyond the whole pastor gig) that if my job was cleaning cess pools, teaching 1st graders, washing dogs, wiring houses, welcoming Walmart customers, I’d still be captivated by Jesus’ love for me and live each day returning that love to Him through loving all people.

If I can do those things, I know that I can confidently say that when its my turn to be lowered into the ground, that my life’s work would bring a result that would have been worth it all.

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