“I don’t want my actions, my behaviors, and my attitude to draw people closer to myself…I want all I do to reflect who I truly want to glorify (God), not just in this life, but for all eternity.” (Cheri Swalwell, It’s Not About Me)
Within the last few weeks, some events occurred which caused me to re-examine how I was doing. You see, the closer I grow in my relationship to God, the less it becomes about what I want and more about His goals, His purpose, and His glory. When I wrote the above post, I was still in the “obedience” stage – the one where you’re making choices based on “should” more than “want to”. My desire to please Him was genuine, but my actions were based on choosing to obey, not a genuine heart change.
I can honestly say I’ve grown since that post. I still believe “It’s not about me,” but my heart has now lined up with that truth. My outward actions are the same, but this time I have the right attitude. Does that mean I always get it right? Unfortunately, no. Now, though, I’m quick to ask forgiveness for my selfish attitude. I’m also able to see the redemption God gives when I don’t hear Him correctly the first time, or sometimes purposefully choose not to listen.
Let me give a few examples to help explain. Normally I schedule my grocery shopping for Friday mornings twice a month. That’s what seems to work best for our family’s schedule. One week in February, however, I felt God nudging me to go on a Thursday morning instead. I wondered why, thinking maybe it was the threat of another impending storm, but chose the road of obedience nonetheless, trusting God would work out the details. While walking through the produce aisle, a worker I’d casually met more than eight months prior, came up to me and remarked about the beautiful verse on my purse. (Feel free to read Free or False Advertising to understand why.) One thing led to another and we ended up talking and sharing from the heart for almost an hour. Toward the end, she made the comment, “God used you today. I prayed last night and told God I needed to know He was there. And He answered through your encouragement today.”
I thanked her for sharing before we said goodbye and then I thanked God that I’d listened to His voice earlier and was able to be used for Him. It wasn’t about me doing anything special…just pleasure in knowing I’d obeyed. I felt privileged God was able to use that obedience as a blessing for someone else.
Fast forward to a week ago. I was driving our oldest home after a long day and I thought I heard God whisper again, “Go grocery shopping tonight.” I was confused since it would mean I wouldn’t get home until after 9 pm, and there was homework, baths, and bedtime that needed to occur. I casually mentioned it to my husband at dinner without much conviction, and as a result, he encouraged me to decide for myself. For the sake of not inconveniencing the family, I chose to go the next morning as planned. Friday morning we were awakened to projectile vomiting from our four-year-old, so any plans for the day were scraped. It was also my husband’s birthday weekend, so thoughts of getting out to buy his present were delayed as well. My first response was anger toward myself. Then, I chose to apologize to God and committed to listening better next time.
As I mentioned above, God is the restorer of all things when we repent and vow to do it His way after all. The illness lingered and I didn’t get a chance to go out and buy my husband’s gift until the night before his birthday. I was in a hurry to get home but struck up small talk with the cashier as she was checking me out.
It began something like this: “How are you doing?”
“Well, good and bad.”
“Oh yeah, what do you mean?”
“My best friend’s dad is in the hospital.”
“I’m sorry. What’s wrong?”
“He had a seizure and now the doctors are saying they don’t think he’ll make it. He’s only 57 years old…but he’s like a dad to me.”
Without thinking about anything other than their pain, I asked for his name and then her name and promised to pray for all of them. And I have been. Every time they come to mind, I’ve been praying for peace whatever the outcome, praying that the man has time to make things right with God before they meet face to face, and that someone will come alongside this family and the hurting cashier and show them God’s love.
It was a result of those instances, months apart, when I fully understood that it’s not about me. None of it. Never. It doesn’t matter what I do in life…because it’s not about me. And, I’m okay with that. I’m better than okay, that’s the way I want it.
Life is about so much more than living here on Earth. It’s about how we spend eternity. I know with certainty where I’m going. There will always be things I need to do – working to bring in a paycheck, supplying clean clothes on a regular basis, keeping a clean house, and making sure the pantry stays stocked with enough food to eat.
However, life, real life isn’t about any of those things. While checking things off my to-do list, it’s about making sure I keep the real goal in mind – sharing God’s love with everyone who needs it. Whether they are already God’s children and just need some encouragement, help, or a listening ear…or someone who hasn’t been introduced to God and how much He loves them.
And that, my friends, is why I can say, “I’m a servant” with a smile on my face.
What about you? Have you had your own “it’s not about me” moment? If so, I’d love for you to share about it below.
© Cheri Swalwell 2014