What Does It Mean to Be the Man God Has Called Me to Be?
By Dn David Leong
“Live Life to the Fullest”
“Be the Woman that you were meant to be”
These two advertisement taglines captured my attention recently. They were both advertising for hydrocollagen, a new skin care product for women.
Advertisements often make bold and aspirational statements that reference what matters most to a person (and potential customer).
As I thought more about it, I began to ask myself: Am I living my life to the fullest? Am I being the man that I was meant to be? What is it that I am meant to be anyway?
When I turned 50 last year, I realised that most of my time here on earth had already passed. The countdown of my life had started (and it was clear to me having better skin won’t help me now). Jokes aside, the most pressing realisation was that I have not been the man—or more importantly the disciple of Christ—that I was called to be if I was not living my life to the fullest.
What then is my Saviour calling me to be? And what does it mean to live my life to the fullest?
In John 10:10, Jesus said that He came so that we may “have life” and in some translations, “have life to the fullest”. Is this life that Jesus is talking about one that is filled with plenty to eat, good health, all the money we want and few health troubles or pains to bother us? Is abundant life supposed to be comfortable and convenient?
The answer from 1 Corinthians 11 gives a contrasting picture. Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians to “Imitate me as I imitate Christ”. This “imitation of Christ” refers to living so closely with Christ that we become one with Christ.
We are to adopt the attitude Jesus has, that is to empty ourselves of our old self, become slaves to Christ and servants of each other, remaining humble and obedient. It is very much like taking our hands completely off the steering wheels of our lives—not having any activity or thought left which is ours, and surrendering all to the control of Jesus. Only then can we begin to imitate Christ in our thoughts, actions, words and opinions of others.
The Story Behind the Hymn “I Surrender All”
Most of us are familiar with the hymn “I Surrender All”. What is just as inspiring is the story of the hymn writer, Judson W. Van DeVenter, who was an American art teacher cum musician who subsequently became a music minister and evangelist.
Van DeVenter explained the inspiration for the lyrics: “For some time, I had struggled between developing my talents in the field of art and going into full-time evangelistic work. At last the pivotal hour of my life came, and I surrendered all. A new day was ushered into my life. I became an evangelist and discovered down deep in my soul a talent hitherto unknown to me. God had hidden a song in my heart, and touching a tender chord, He caused me to sing.”
Following his decision to surrender his life to the God, Van DeVenter travelled throughout the United States, England, and Scotland, doing evangelistic work. Toward the end of his life, Van DeVenter was professor of hymnology at the Florida Bible Institute. Even after his retirement, he remained involved in speaking and in religious gatherings. Van DeVenter published more than 60 hymns in his lifetime.
Learning to Give Up and Surrender, Little By Little
At present, I am still struggling to “be the man” that God has called me to be. I am still trying to learn how I can live the remainder of my life to the fullest. Honestly, I will tell you that I am also a little afraid to surrender my all to Jesus. Perhaps my problem is that I am so used to the small comforts in this life that I am afraid to give it all up. I could also be trying to avoid the suffering and pain that I became so good at dodging. But I do thank God that little by little, He has helped me to give up and surrender the many “baggage” I carry in my life. Things (and activities) that I used to hold dear to my life I have slowly lost their lustre. This has given me renewed hope as I see the sanctification work of the Holy Spirit in my life.
During the sermon on 1 Kings 9-10, Rev David Wong shared with us how it was important for us to have a main focus in our life. Rev Wong reminded us: “the main thing is to make the main thing the main thing”. I thought about what is the “main thing” that I needed to do in my life. I concluded that the main thing for me was to live a life that points to Jesus, pointing my family, my friends and others to Christ in everything that I do. One line from the song Only Jesus by Casting Crown aptly describes my desire: “I have only got one life to live, I will let every second point to him”. I pray that I can remain focused to live my life pointing others to Jesus.