Dying to self

This past weekend I had a chance for a little glimpse into what my wife must deal with on a much more regular basis. Elyse Fitzpatrick was holding a conference about 100 miles away from our home and my wife took our two older daughters there for the weekend to participate and visit the church that was hosting it. BTW – if you are not familiar with Elyse I highly recommend her work, even for men to read. Her perspective captured in her books “Because He Loves Me” and “Idols of the Heart” transformed my wife and our marriage which may be a topic of another blog post if she gives me permission to write about it.

Here’s what I had to work with. From about 2pm Friday until 3pm Sunday I had to watch two kids ages 5 and 6, take care of two daschounds, host a family from church who is temporarily moving out of their house to find work, prepare for a men’s breakfast at our home on Saturday morning and keep the house clean for our normal small group meeting on Sunday evening. It’s easy to say this was an unusually high amount of activity but frankly I think my wife deals with about as much at the close of every week when you consider her home schooling commitments and other ministry obligations.

How did it go? Well, initially not so great. As soon as she left I started trying to coordinate my approach to things as if it were a project from work which didn’t help. The problem with little kids and dogs and people in general is that they don’t fit into a project plan all that well. After muddling around for a while I came to a conclusion. All this was possible if I simply died to myself and my desires and gave myself fully to serving her out of the overflow of the love the Lord has shown to me.

What would that mean? Well, in practical terms I did not get to have nearly the liesure time I would have liked to have. I did not get to read a book I hoped to read in advance of our small group time. I did not get to eat the food I would have preferred because catering to the little ones was more important and somehow they like McDonalds more than Smokey Bones (I know it’s crazy but it’s true). I spent $20.50 to see a 90 minute movie (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) which I enjoyed more than I thought but is not the one I would have picked to see alone. I ate the same leftover pasta dish three times because the little ones liked her taco soup so much they didn’t want to share (I chose grace to them over exerting my rights). I didn’t get to sleep in on Sunday like I usually do when Kristen is around because she wasn’t there to get the kids up, fed, cleaned and dressed for church. I didn’t get to stand around church talking to people all the time becuase she wasn’t there supervise the little ones, get them to their classes, get them from their classes, etc.

Basically, I saw how selfish I am usually and how much having the best wife in the world lets me continue in my selfishness.

What did it take for me to make all this happen? First of all and most importantly it took a total and complete acknowledgement that there was no way I could do it. Jesus said “Apart from me you can do nothing”. He didn’t say apart from Him we couldn’t do most things – He said “nothing”. The reality is this past weekend gave me a chance to see how little I was really doing that any carnal non-Christian wouldn’t have also been doing. The non-Christian would have been the one sleeping in and letting his wife care for their kids, talking to his friends while his wife supervised the little ones at church, enjoyed being the pack leader of the dogs while his kids fed them and picked up their poop, ignored things that could be done on Saturday to prepare for the small group meeting on Sunday (using lesson preparation on Sunday as a convenient excuse to not be more organized so he could be helpful).

Paul said in Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. What I have been doing, at least in these areas where I have let my love of self dominate my desire to serve, is refuse give let Christ live in me.

I am very grateful for the chance to have this spotlight on my sin of selfishness in such a glaring way so even in my think-headedness I cannot possibly miss it and will be asking Kristen to forgive me for the many years I have let my selfish heart take advantage of her lovingkindness to me.

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