This is a guest post by a dear brother and friend in Christ. If you’re interested in writing for this blog, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Simon – always proud of your efforts and love for others. Keep doing big things for the Lord.
I was not surprised to hear that infamously loaded question come up during my medical school interviews. Naturally, people getting to know you as an applicant would want to hear about your intentions and the events that lead you to that particular moment. But if you’re anything like me, you’re probably still focused on getting your heart below 200 beats per minute and trying to tame your overactive sweat glands. The answer that I had rehearsed thousands of times finds some way to escape. So, what is left to do but divulge the honest truth? With your pre-formulated answer out the window, what is your explanation for why you do the things you do?
After spending the better part of my free time this past summer grinding out essay after essay, I was rather relieved when that last application was finalized and submitted. However, there was one aspect about those never-ending essays that I can firmly say I appreciated, and that was the concept of reflection. It was nice to reaffirm to myself all the reasons I gave up so much of my time studying, volunteering, and researching. Every now and then, one of the questions would stump me and keep me thinking for a few days; often I would surprise myself with the answers that would develop.
This time-consuming struggle makes me question the actions I take on a daily basis. Why am I giving up so much time for this? Why does everybody else get to do what they want while I’m still here studying? What’s the harm with skipping a few days here or there? Who would even care if I gave up?
If this internal conversation sounds familiar, it may be because it sounds like the conversation we often have with ourselves about our relationship with Christ. I find that when I have gone a while without reflecting on “what brought me here today” I start to waiver in my battles. You may have heard the famous Socrates quote, “the unexamined life is not worth living,” but taking it one step further, I believe asking ourselves exactly WHY we practice religion the way we do will help us reinforce the love that brought us to Christ and the church. I want to challenge myself to question everything I do throughout my endeavor for the Lord. In doing so, I hope to learn what benefits the church has placed for me – by the depths of Her wisdom – in each of the guidelines we adopt.
The Lord gives us commandments for reason, and there is tangible benefit from everything taught by the Church to uphold in our daily lives. So question everything.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16
Because whether you just need to hear the answer again or if you need to reach out to a spiritual advisor to get an answer, it will help you maintain your motivation when you know EXACTLY what you are fighting towards.
The idea of seeking purpose, also called Spiritual Intentionality, is not a new concept, in fact is older than most would guess.
“When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren. So, Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben; for she said, “The Lord has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me.” Then she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore, his name was called Levi. And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, ‘Now I will praise the Lord.’ Therefore, she called his name Judah. Then she stopped bearing.” Genesis 29:31-35
Notice how it says she conceived children in order for her husband to love her. She thought she was “brought here today” to be loved by her husband and to give him as many children as she could. The lesson comes on the fourth conception. The fourth time she conceived, she said “Now I will praise the Lord” (Genesis 29:35). The child that came from this statement? Judah, the tribe in which our Lord Jesus Christ would come from. When we do things in life that are not for the glory of God, we will not be satisfied (hence her first 3 children). When we do things for the Glory of God, satisfaction and fulfillment ensue. The fruit of that labor will be Christ.
Even though I would never wish the medical school application upon anybody, I will task us all to take time and examine our actions as we build our relationships with Christ.
“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless indeed you are disqualified.” 2 Corinthians 13:5
Ask yourselves, “Why do I put so much effort into this relationship with the Lord?” “Why do I need to attend a church?” “Why do I need to read the bible, fast, and pray ALL the time?” “What does it benefit me to strive for purity?” Finding the answers to these questions helps one strengthen their “spiritual intentionality” and makes them less likely to lose the zealous drive to succeed.
Before we embark on the road with Christ, there are many things we do to prepare ourselves. Preparing spiritually and mentally is an essential component to success.
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it?” Luke 14:28
We have accountants and engineers to help us plan and organize, so maybe having help from a father-of-confession or a spiritual elder is not a bad idea. But that’s a talk for another time…
Medical school may come and go, but at least I now have an answer for myself when things get difficult. The goal now is to have an answer for myself when waking up for church Sunday morning is especially difficult. Whether you just need to remind yourself of the answer, or whether you wish to escape the cycle of “blind religion,” living an examined life will help strengthen your resiliency and determination for the godly life. As Leah examined her purpose and her desires, so let us also do the same. Leah learned that success and satisfaction comes by placing the Lord FIRST and shifting one’s perspective accordingly. The fruit of her reflection was Christ himself, and that should be our goal always…to reproduce Christ in our lives, #1ThingIsNeeded.
Next time you walk into church or speak with the Lord, first ask yourself — “what brings me here today?”