-An excerpt from Janell’s new book, “Rock-solid Families: Transform an Ordinary Home into a Fortress of Faith

Bible Reading: Luke 9:23-25

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”

One evening while flipping through the channels, I happened to stumble across a stunning musical production performed by the Disney Junior Symphony. The spotlight had shone on a special nine-year-old concert pianist, described by the commentator as a prodigy.  At the end of the concert, her father came to the foot of the stage bearing a huge presentation bouquet, hugging her neck and gleaming with parental pride. The next day my family ventured to the beach. A few minutes after we set up camp, I watched another father hugging the neck of his daughter—only this time he was carrying her to their beach blanket. She was severely handicapped. Fighting back tears, I watched this man serve this young girl tirelessly. I could only imagine the need he must have for God’s sustaining power. I quietly prayed, asking the Lord to pour out his sustaining love on this man and his daughter. Two fathers. Two daughters. Two extremes. One father gave flowers; one gave himself.  Each of these children is a special gift from God (see Psalm 127:3). There are definite differences between them, but the hand of a loving heavenly Father sculpted both.  The more I pondered this, I began to wrestle with their differences. Why is one so gifted? Why is one so handicapped? It just doesn’t seem fair, Lord.  But as I struggled with these tough questions, I sensed the Lord helping me understand that at the end of our lives, each of us will be judged on our life’s journey, not our accolades, our prestigious awards and accomplishments, our mighty deeds, our academic diplomas, or the fortunes we amass, but on the integrity of our character—the stewardship of our thoughts and actions. Did my life bring glory to God? Did I love others deeply? Was I sensitive? Did I fulfill my purpose and destiny? Did I face obstacles with courage and tenacity, ever trusting in his ability to sustain my heart and soul? Was I a cheerful giver? Was I honest and upright? Herein is greatness.  The pursuit of true greatness is a lifelong journey. The world has an array of definitions for this word, identifying greatness with fame, fortune, prestige, beauty, athletic prowess, status, academic accomplishment, and superiority of talent. Hence, the sudden onrush of reality shows dangling fifteen minutes of fame in front of their contenders. In direct opposition to this we read in Luke 9:25,  “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very soul?”  Have you ever felt the tension between these two extremes-the lure of worldly success vs the joy of spiritual success?

I’d love to hear your story! Contact me janellrardon@hotmail.com.

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