For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

It feels like such a long time since I have put pen to paper, so to speak, so I am glad to be back, sharing my God-given reflections with  you once again.

I was particularly struck by a concept mentioned in a book I just began reading, Living “So That”: Making Faith-Filled Choices in the Midst of a Messy Life by Wendy Blight.  She said the phrase “so that” was not a random choice.  During a campaign to raise money, her church used the name “So That” for the project.  Their goal for the project was to challenge their church body to live a life that exemplified “so that” instead of “so what”.  In other words, instead of a life that is all about me with no impact on the world around me, I would live a life that is others-centered, making a difference in the world for God’s name.  Later, Wendy explains, the phrase “so that” has even further meaning when you look into the Greek behind it.  She explains that it is a purpose clause used in conjunction with a subjunctive participle.  A subjunctive participle tells how likely an event is to occur.  May and might are examples of subjunctive participles.  When so that is used, it signifies a purpose behind the previous statement, or an expected result.  In other words, it contains a promise of what is to come.  When I thought about these statements, it made me yearn for a life of promise; for a life of purpose and confidence in an expected result.  I want to live a life that exemplifies John 3:16.  God loves us so much that he sent his son, so that any who believe in him will not receive death, but eternal life.  Because God loves ME and sent his son for ME, I will believe and receive eternal life.  I want to live a life that demonstrates that promise to the fullest measure.

What would a life that is “so that” look like?  I think it takes all aspects of our life and uses it to bring glory to God.  We should take our everyday, mundane tasks and perform them as if we perform them for the Lord himself.  Colossians 3:23 tells us as much saying, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” The endless pile of dishes. The never-ending pile of laundry. The errands that seem they will go on forever. Caring for your ailing family member for what seems like an eternity. While none of these things may bring us joy of themselves, when we change our perspective to see these as acts as bringing glory to God because we are serving others, we can find joy in our purpose.  Over the past several weeks, the demands of caring for a newborn on top of the normal demands of caring for my family at times seemed overwhelming.  Truth be told, there are times when I would cry because I felt as if I could not do it for one more minute.  I could not even imagine how everything that needed to be done would get accomplished.  I did one thing right, though: I called out to God in prayer.  I listened to His voice telling me he was with me, and I worked to use God’s strength to give me patience and wisdom as I cared for my family.  Is it always pretty?  Certainly not, but I can say with confidence that my life more closely resembles what God wants it to be.

Perhaps you are facing a trial that brings you grief at this time in your life. Grief is a part of human life which the Bible deals with in many places. In Psalm 23:4, the psalmist reminds us: Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” God does not leave us alone in grief and fear.  He is with us, pulling us close, warding off enemies and disciplining us so that we might walk closer to him.  While those around you may see you grieve, this does not mean your life does not bring God glory.  When you pull close to Christ in times of sorrow, you exemplify a “so that” life, rather than a “so what” life.  Others will see and be comforted by your actions, thus making your life an example of God’s great love for us. I know some of the biggest impacts in my life have been seeing others demonstrate reliance on God’s strength through grief.

Maybe your life seems like endless frustration, or a string of bad luck that will not end.  You may wonder where God is or why he allows this to happen to you. You may be reading this and thinking, God cannot use my circumstances.  My life certainly resembles a “so what” life.  I have been there, but let me ask you this.  Do you think the Creator of the entire universe, who intricately designed every aspect down to the smallest detail cannot handle the difficulties of your life?  Psalm 55:22 reminds us “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” While we may not see the end, God is there.  He will keep his promises and the evil that seems to be attacking from all sides will not pull you from God’s hand.  How can your life become a life that is “so that”?  Live as if you believe the promises given us.  Get up each day and praise God for another day, not because of the trials, but because you know God has overcome this trial.  Our future is a promise of eternal life with him.  The Lord will sustain us, he will not let the righteous be shaken.  Find hope in these promises, and your life will resemble a “so that” life, not a life that says “so what”.

I do not anticipate a life without trials.  In fact, I expect quite the opposite, as the Bible tells us that these trials produce endurance which make in us a mature Christian (see James 1:2-4).  My belief in God the Father has certainly been strengthened as he shows his love and comfort towards me through various trials in my life.  And, while the sleepless nights, messy house, always running late and many other realities of having a newborn seem like they will persist forever, I know it will not.  So, I will continue to hold fast to the promises given me in the Bible.  I will try to be an example of Christ’s strength in me, of God’s unending hope and love towards others.  I will continue to encourage others in their journey as others have encouraged me.  I will accept the strength of God’s promises, rather than continue to look at my own weaknesses.  I will live a life of “so that” instead of “so what”.