Today in our small groups at church we talked about obligations. How do we define an obligation? What are our obligations? How do we feel about our obligations and what keeps us from fulfilling all of our obligations? Yes, there was lots of talk about obligations and as a whole we all agreed that the word "obligation" has a negative connotation. It's something we have to do or we feel like we have to do whether we like it or not. Of course we had some fun with it and laughed a good bit at the things the guy groups and the girl groups came up with, but in the end it came down to our attitude and the way in which we choose to view things.
When we only give God bits and pieces of our life and still try and cling to/control the other areas then those things begin to weigh us down. Those things start to feel like tasks or jobs or...wait for it...obligations. However, when we give it all to God...our family, our work, our finances, our extracurricular activities, etc then we can begin to see our obligations differently.
I have a real life example, I am living it actually. Now please don't hear what I'm not saying, I don't live it perfectly. I am no more here to judge you than I want to be judged myself. I wake up every morning to a day that can be viewed as an obligation or as an opportunity just like you do.
Eight almost nine years ago when our little girl was born the world told us it was a tragedy and that taking care of her would be a burden to our family. We had a choice then just as we do now, are we going to walk through this thing with God or without God. Everything you go about doing throughout your day we have to do for Sophie Kate. We have to care for her in every way you can think of and in lots of ways you can't. Yes, there have been many many days that I approached her and all the things I had to do for her as an obligation. However, over the years God has been more patient with me than I deserve and He has shown me through her sweet spirit that she is not a burden as the father of lies would have me believe.
She gives me far more than I could ever give or do for her. She gives me the opportunity to be a better person by loving her. She gives me the opportunity to be selfless by putting someone else's needs above my own. When I look at her and love her as God looks at her and loves her, not that I can be equal with God or do exactly as God does but I can follow the example Christ has set, then she is not a burden or an obligation. In fact, it becomes my pleasure and my privilege to care for her. It is in these moments when my obligations, my gifts, and all the demands of life are given over to God that I can see the things that really matter and it isn't the things we are bombarded with every day. It is in these moments that God reveals His priorities and contrary to what I may think or want it has nothing to do with outward appearances or what my house looks like or what kind of car I drive.
I can see what I once viewed as my obligations as opportunities when I see them as God sees them.
Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things."