In Joel Osteen’s popular book Your Best Life Now, he details how to go about securing the best life possible for yourself, mostly through positive thinking and believing that God will give you everything you want.
I thought about this “best life” while struggling through wondering if our family was truly living the life that God intended for us. What was the best possible life that we could live, and how could we obtain it?
Our children were small when Will and I embarked on our present pilgrimage; too small to have opinions and input on the matter. But now they feel the bite of loneliness, the perplexity of always being different, and the ache of not knowing what the future holds.
A few days ago when I saw my tender son’s tears, something inside me broke. I felt sick at heart and overcome with guilt, wondering if Will and my decision to follow Jesus was destroying our family. What have I done to my family? I thought. They didn’t know what it was like to have grandparents next door, or a Sunday school full of kids their age, or a dozen cousins playing ball in the back yard.
I poured out my confusion to my sister who lives overseas. She replied:
I used to cry out to Jesus that it is on His name and honor to take care of our kids and give grace if He has called us to a place like this, until He gently showed me that the setting my kids grow up in isn’t a terrible ill to only have grace to withstand/pull through. It IS grace. It is the gift and privilege that He has given them, to bless them now and prepare them for the future.
Her words brought a paradigm shift to my mind and heart. Will and I don’t claim anything close to perfection, but we want nothing more than to love and honor Jesus. We are devoted to listening to and caring for people, regardless of race, gender, denomination, or class. Anyone is welcome to meet Jesus at our table. Is that such a bad setting for our kids?
While I thought wistfully of so much good in my childhood that is withheld from my children here, I realized that my kids showed qualities beyond what I ever possessed at their age (or even now). They are quick to befriend and slow to judge. They are intensely loyal, delightfully funny, and spiritually sensitive. They know God’s voice.
This life of mixed joy and suffering, losing and gaining, weeping and laughter, perplexity and clarity–could it really be that it’s the best life for us? That no other path, as enticingly beautiful and peaceful as it looks, could bring more intimacy with Jesus? Could no other thing be better for our children than what they are living here and now?
The place my children are growing up in is a strange and glorious grace, a gift from God.
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.
Mark 10:29-30 (ESV) emphasis mine
To walk with Jesus and to do His will, regardless of our circumstances, is the best decision our family could possibly make.
It’s the best life we could live right now.
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Matthew 10:39 (ESV)