A Group of People

What Really Matters?

In calling, life, me, we on February 23, 2011 at 3:22 pm

By Gunnar Simonsen

“A life void of service for one’s neighbor is a life in need of transformation.”

In a life all about ME… the WE suffers.

I am in my forties now and with this, I am still learning the heart of transformation.

Sometimes, we experience something, read a story, watch a movie, visit a shelter, and we are instantly moved. In this, we see, but for a moment, a glimpse of who we really are in that we have chosen, often times, without even knowing it, to be conformed to the stuff of life that truly doesn’t matter.

I am learning there is a difference between a self-willed transformation and a heart-surrendered transformation. For me, I am beginning to see this more clearly as the difference between forcing something to happen and letting something “to” happen.

As author, Max Lucado once wrote…

“The heart of the matter will always be… the matter of the heart.”

To get to the place of asking what the matter OF our heart is, we must first ask what is the matter WITH our heart.

________________________________

In the midst of a dark time of life’s lessons, a friend once asked me what I was learning from the experience. Without thought, these words came from my mouth…

“I am learning about that which really matters in life.”

Have you ever had something flow from your mouth where it too, even made you stop, pause, and reflect where it came from?

That was me right there as we sat there over lunch seeking to unpack all that had recently begun to descend upon my life. Quite frankly, there was no question that I should have saw it coming.

And now, several years later removed from that lunch meeting with my friend and I am beginning to understand those words and why they may just have been the most important words that have ever come out of my mouth.

At the time, I was running a chain of regional retail stores. And, for a guy that had started working for that company a decade earlier at $6.50 an hour, I would say I was doing pretty good. People seemed to like me. People seemed to think I was a pretty encouraging person that had a big heart for others.

Sadly, I knew myself all too well. Those these perceptions may have rung true, only I and those closest to me truly knew how deep these perceptions went.

It was during this season that a good friend of mine asked me to speak at their banquet to raise awareness and funds for his work in India. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to help my friend out.

As I was in preparation for my comments that evening, I felt moved to center my words around a certain passage that had recently drawn my attention.

Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; 
lighten the burden of those who work for you. 
Let the oppressed go free, 
and remove the chains that bind people

Share your food with the hungry, 
and give shelter to the homeless. 
Give clothes to those who need them, 
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

It felt right to share these words.

Have you ever had something flow from your mouth where it too, even made you stop, pause, and reflect where it came from?

Literally a week after sharing this at my friends banquet, I had one of those moments. One of those moments where you felt like you literally were hearing from God. In this, it would be a turning point in my life.

“You did a great job speaking about these things. But, do you want to really know what it is like to live in such a way?” ..were the words I remember hearing so clearly.

A pit formed in my stomach that was reminiscence of when one asks for patience. You know the “uh-oh” feeling you get when you get the feeling you are about to learn a lesson?

Of course, at the time I didn’t like that feeling one bit. But, I also knew deep down inside that it was right and that I desperately needed it.

Perhaps I too believed the perceptions about myself that I was a pretty good person that generally cared for others. But, is that really the point of life? Sure, maybe I was doing something meaningful with the platform I had been given, but, I knew better.

I knew something was amiss. I knew I was on auto-pilot. I knew I had one foot in and one foot out.

When one compels oneself to such action, it cannot be sustainable. However, when one is compelled by the very One who brought love into this world first, it can be a game changer and one that rings true without the reverberations of needing anything in response.

You see, I had gotten really good at talking about what really mattered in life, but to be completely honest, I was really lousy at living in a way that matched the words I was speaking.

In this, it was time to truly stop, pause, and reflect on the words I had shared that night at the banquet. It was time to point blank ask myself if this is what my life reflected?

As I read those words and even shared them, I found so much to emphasize within that passage. It has everything in it from the least of these, to people that work for you, to your family at home.

Is there any other blue print out there for one to truly live a life that really matters?

So, my journey began… again. In this, I hope someday to live a life that fully reflects the words found there. In this, I hope to continue to strive to live in such a way that takes me out of the equation and places the needs of others first and foremost into that equation.

For there, in my opinion, is where I believe peace resides. For not only is it our call in life, it is His call for our life.

As I close this post, I want to ask you a couple of questions and perhaps begin a dialogue with you.

_________________________________

Please take a moment to pause, reflect, and respond to the following:

1) Where are these people located within your daily life experiences?

The wrongly imprisoned, those who work for you, the oppressed, people bound by chains, the hungry, the homeless, those without clothes, and relatives who need your help.

2) Who are they?

3) Do you run towards them or run away from them? Why?

4) What should we be doing for them?

Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; 
lighten the burden of those who work for you. 
Let the oppressed go free, 
and remove the chains that bind people

Share your food with the hungry, 
and give shelter to the homeless. 
Give clothes to those who need them, 
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

5) What keeps us from seeking to do these things?

6) What would this look like if we began to live in such a way?

7) How can we help encourage you to live life in such a way?

It is an amazing thing to look back at a season of life sometimes and so clearly see where a pattern of lessons began to emerge. Sometimes, we respond quicker than others.

However, I suppose the tougher lessons take more time as our heart, mind, and soul is in need of a deep submergence of the reality of life and the stuff that really matters.

In this, perhaps you no longer have to take this journey alone?

* if you haven’t guessed it yet, these words are from Isaiah 58:6-7 (NLT)

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