A single friend once asked me why parents take their children on vacation. Why not go alone, without the hassles: whining and disputes, added cost, giving up your adult agenda to eat at McDonald’s, go to water parks, zoos, or marine land? Shouldn’t vacation be about getting away from the stress of life?
Most parents I know can relate to the idea that parenting can be stressful. But despite the unpredictability, parents take joy in granting their children’s dreams and watching them delight in simple things like swimming, hiking, collecting shells, or identifying the stars. Laying down our desires in the best interests of our children is a part of parenthood that comes easily to most of us.
My husband and I had the opportunity to visit Disney World and many other theme parks when we served as sponsors for high school trips where Dan taught. But the first time I visited Disney World with our children, I cried tears of joy. We were giving our son and daughter an imagination-filled, memorable trip I thought would be impossible.
Love motivates us to lay down our preferences for those we love.
Last night I slept on a well-used couch and couldn’t care less. Why? I’m visiting my beloved daughter’s family and grandchildren who I seldom get to see. Love keeps the main thing the main thing. My husband Dan and I are with them and our family is together. Who cares about sleeping on a couch? Not me.
1 Peter 4:13 says, “Rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings…”
Our deep love for Jesus should stir us to willingly partake in His sufferings.
But what does it mean to partake in Jesus’s sufferings? His suffering was unlike you and me can experience because He suffered according to the will of God, according to 1 Peter 4:19. Because Jesus understood God’s will, He knew what He was to do in every situation. Our job is to “partake” or choose to imitate Jesus in these acts of obedience out of our deep love for Him.
Lay down our agendas and preferences to serve others. Jesus’s purpose was to carry out the Father’s will. Jesus was compelled by love for God the Father and submitted every thought and action to Him. Do we willingly lay down our plans and ambitions so God can conform our heart and our desires to His own?
- Love does not insist on its own way (1 Cor. 13:5).
- Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit (Phil. 2:3).
- In humility count others more significant than yourselves (Phil. 2:3).
- Look…to the interests of others (Phil. 2:4).
- Have the same mindset as Jesus in your relationships with others (Phil. 2:5).Cloth
- Lay aside sin and weight that causes conflict, discouragement, anger, resentment, and bitterness (Heb. 12:1).
Learn to see through other people’s eyes. To teach us this, God often takes us through experiences that force us to think differently and confront our prejudices and blind spots. He may ask us to serve people who are difficult for us to be around because He needs to teach us important lessons in humility, compassion, empathy, listening, patience, gentleness, and give us insight into our motives and goals.
- Clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Col 3:12).
- Comfort others with the comfort God gives us (2 Cor. 1:3-4).
- Be united in Christ (Phil. 2:1-3).
- Practice honest self-examination (Matthew 7:3-5).
- Incline your heart to understanding others (Prov. 2:2).
- Be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19).
In recent years, God gifted me with challenging relationships that taught me to see the world from other people’s perspectives. Without these relationships, I would not have learned lessons of compassion, grace, mercy, and evaluated blind spots in my spiritual life. The greatest lesson I learned was that spiritual growth and following Christ are not about comfort but about joy and fulfillment.
In laying down what I falsely believe to be my rights, I find my greatest freedom and joy.
What about you? Have you been challenged to lay down your rights, your goals, your plans, your dreams for God’s greater vision? How did you respond? What was the result? I would love to hear from you.