We give Thee but Thine own,
Whate'er the gift may be:
All that we have is Thine alone,
A trust, O Lord from Thee
May we Thy bounties thus
As stewards true recieve,
And gladly as Thou blessest us,
To Thee our first fruits give.
William W. How
I've been pondering of late a couple of questions that seem now to be coalescing into one main thought. What is my motive?
It began, oddly enough, with Atlas Shrugged. This 1200 page doorstop furnished much food for thought. Ayn Rand is decidedly Godless and I must ultimately disagree with her conclusions. But she does a masterful job of exposing various personalities and their motives. Just the word, "motive" sheds some light on a few things. Her novel is set in and around the railroad industry. She often speaks of "motive power" as in what it is that moves machinery and what it is that moves people. What is my moving force? Ms Rand would contend that self interest is the only legitimate moving power. That selfishness is the greatest good. That anything done with other reasons than personal pleasure is basically thievery. She illustrates the political consequences very handily. But her characters are completely without God and without hope in the world.
Romans 11:36 tells me that all things in my life are "of Him". Originating in God Himself, they are also "through Him". I can do nothing apart from my Creator. And the end is "to Him". God is the first cause, the Motive of the universe. He is the driving force, He is the only being who can legitimately exist by and for His own pleasure. And, my greatest good cannot be separated from His greatest glory. What glorifies Him, what pleases Him, must by definition be the only good possible. He defines "good". The English words God and good come from the German gut or gutt. Literally, God is Good.
So, what moves me. Why do I get up and get dressed? Why do I cook oatmeal for breakfast? Why do I take prenatal vitamins? Why am I even pregnant in the first place? Is it because this is what I want? At first that sounds pretty good. I do what I want, in the way that I want to do it because it makes me happy. I wanted to be married and have children. So I did. Good for me. But why did I want this? Was I depending on a relationship with a nice man to make me happy? Did I stake everything on cute and adorable children to make me happy? That all works out well when things are going well. When the children are perfectly obedient and never cause me more stress and trouble than they are worth. When my husband does everything exactly the way I would want him to. But what about when things go wrong?
Is it okay to terminate a marriage that is no longer fun and fulfilling? (purely hypothetical here)
What about a baby? Can I terminate her if I don't feel like being pregnant any more?
What about running off and letting someone else raise the kids? They would surely do a better job than I would anyway.
What about when I lose everything and everyone that I hold dear? Is happiness possible in a run down apartment? What about in a tent? Under a bridge? Concentration camp?
Could I be joyful if I lose this baby in a miscarriage? Stillbirth? SIDS? Car wreck?
What if my husband left me? Became terminally ill? Never made it home from work?
What if all these calamities happened on the same day?
If all things originate from me and are for me, I can never be happy. Even in the best of situations. No person can ever make another person happy. To depend on someone else to make you happy is a most unfair burden to place on that person. It's not right to load my toddler with the responsibility of making me happy. My husband can't bear that burden, how much less an infant?
Situations cannot bring me joy. I must bring the joy to the situation. And the only way that is going to work is if the joy of the Lord is my strength. Joy that comes from Him, through Him and goes back to Him.
If situations cannot bring joy, situations cannot destroy joy either. Not if it's coming from God.
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord." Romans 8:38-39
I am slowly beginning to realize that when I am unhappy it is because I am looking to someone or something to supply my joy. When I feel overwhelmed it's because I feel that everything is depending on me. If I can just learn to bask in the Presence of God. If I recognize that God is not borrowing from me, I am simply returning what is His to begin with. When I sing, play the piano, write, read to my children, give my husband a back rub, cook a meal, scrub a toilet, I am returning to God what He graciously let me borrow. Every day, every task, every claim on my heart and limited brain cells comes from God and returns back to God. And He then promises to "repay" me with interest! It comes from Him, by His power, goes back to Him, for His glory, but He gives me the credit with interest, so that One Day I will have treasure in Heaven to offer back at His feet! It boggles my mind.
So, I pray,
Lord, let me live today for your glory, in your joy, by your strength.