When we were making preparations for this season of life as a family, there were some big changes involved. We had to “let go” of many possessions, sold our 2 mini-vans, and our family home. It was an easy choice in some ways – we were moving to Hungary. It wouldn’t do us any good to have such things sitting here, and we needed the funds & freedom to move in the direction we felt called. But it also means, we find ourselves in the vulnerable position of depending on others in ways we’re not used to.
As a husband, and father especially – I feel the need/pressure to provide for my family in ways our culture emphasizes. To become self-sufficient, you need a mode of transportation and shelter for your family (and a certain level of financial stability).
This past week we arrived back in the US for an urgent visit. My (Chadwick) father’s physical health is failing, and these are important moments for family to experience together. But as we landed in Detroit, and rented a car in order to arrive in our destination, I felt more than inadequate in my ability to know my family would be provided for. We would have to make arrangements, and depend on the kindness of others and ultimately God – in order to have what we needed.
God has certainly provided. We continue to be so very thankful for the friends (who wouldn’t want to be named or applauded – but deserve it!) who are contributing to our ability to be here. Friends and family both in Hungary and US, who offer the resources they have, to provide for these moments. It’s a reminder that God is faithful, but also a reminder that we must depend on God in significant ways – in order to understand just what that means.
In Romans chapter 2, Paul was helping God’s people to understand the topic of circumcision. In the matters of Jewish identity, it was part of declaring a covenant relationship and identity in a way that could not be reversed. Paul was helping new followers of Jesus understand that the physical act was meaningless compared to what it signified. Becoming one of God’s children was a matter of the heart, and a “cutting away/letting go” of things no longer necessary in order to move forward with a New identity in Christ. A “circumcision of the heart“. Purposefully letting go of how we used to define our identity (and all that comes with it), and allowing this New Life in Christ to become that source in new ways. We are called to do this, in ways that (similar to circumcision) are significant, even if not irreversible.
Another word that helps us understand this sort of thing is “kenosis“. Sometimes used to describe how Jesus “emptied himself” of certain divine rights and privileges in order to become fully human (yet remaining fully divine). He came in the form of a servant, putting himself in many ways dependent on humanity in vulnerable ways. We are each called to this kind of “self-emptying” in ways that help us to experience depending less on self, and more on God, throughout life. It may look and feel different at various seasons – but the foundation is the same: dying to self (and what I can do/provide), and coming alive as Christ (and what He desires/provides). This doesn’t mean everyone sells all vehicles and homes, committing to owning nothing. But it does mean a good bit of constant self-reflection about where our comfort/peace comes from, and what our faith is in. How might God be asking you to become aware of those places in life where you may be self-sufficient in ways that put walls between you and having a healthier relationship with God/others? What “things/capabilities” do you have, that you might offer back to God in a new way – to serve others, instead of self?
It’s definitely a foundational part of our faith as followers of Jesus (individually, as families, and as local church communities), but one we haven’t often excelled at. We are so very thankful for the faithfulness of God, and the way becoming vulnerable has helped us to experience that faithfulness. May God’s Love be revealed increasingly in the ways we purposefully offer ourselves in such ways…