Life can be so hard if you don’t know who you are….
(A guest post from Ben Jaggers)
We have so many choices and so many people telling us who to be or how to act.
I wasn’t sure who I was when I was younger. I am sure this is a problem that many face…and I think it is especially hard if you have been exposed to the things of Christ in church, or through your family, and then also try to live the way the world lives.
When I was in 8th grade I was stuck in a life of living for people at school and when I was with my friends and trying to live for Jesus at church and when with my family. I’m sure this relates to some of you all.
I learned how to please everyone around me all the time.
As I got into late middle school/early high school life became harder. I had to fight internally with who I was. My friends started to look at, and do things, that weren’t honoring to the Lord.
I will tell you this kind of life is exhausting if you are a follower of Christ. A double life will tear you apart. Because Jesus wants all of us and not part of us.
But why do we do this? Why do we live a life that is a mix of everything and not defined by anything?
Here is what I believe to be the main reasons we live this type of life:
- We may not really know God and have given our life over to him.Have you ever put your faith in God as the Lord and Savior of your life? Do you really know the Lord or do you just know many things about him?Jesus died on the cross to pay for all of our sins.
- Maybe something in our past has pushed us towards that “mix of everything/defined by nothing” lifestyle.
- Maybe we have not grown in our relationship with Christ.
I was a combination of the last two. I knew Christ as my Lord and Savior but was not living a life that backed that up.
Galatians 1:10 reminds us that you can’t please God and man.
I became a Christian when I was 8 years old. I realized my sin and my great need of a Savior. So, I trusted Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of my life.
That worked pretty well until I got older and I hadn’t done the work of building a foundation for my faith in the Lord.
Satan can really work with this.
He used a combination of me not making my faith an everyday priority, and things that happened in my past to derail me in my 8th grade year.
Have you ever been asked,”If you could spend a day with anyone dead or alive who would it be?”
Many people they would pick a famous historical figure like Abraham Lincoln or maybe a legendary athlete such as Michael Jordan.
For me, my answer was always different; but I never really told anyone.
My answer would have been Rick Buckner …if I was being honest. To most of you that name doesn’t mean anything. He wasn’t famous or important in the eyes of the world.
But, he was my father.
When I was born, I was battling many health issues and my family was struggling financially. My father didn’t have a relationship with Jesus, at the time, so he didn’t know where to turn. He had no foundation that was built on God.
One day he went downtown looking for something to ease his pain. He wanted to find a way to forget about his problems so he found someone he thought he could buy some weed from.
Instead of marijuana, they gave him cocaine. Long story short, my father became a cocaine addict.
This choice changed his life and my family’s life forever. After some time, my Mom found out about his addiction. (I am making a long story short. It you’d like to read the entire story you can check out my mom’s book, “Truth To Hold On To” available on Amazon)
My father made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. But the grip of addiction was strong. He ended up checking into rehab to try to fix his problem.
By this time, I had spent almost 264 days in the hospital of that first year. My health had gotten so bad that, right after my dad checked into rehab, the doctors told my mom that I needed a very risky surgery in order to have a chance to live.
In September of 1996, my parents made the decision to check my father out of rehab so we could be together in what might be my last weekend alive as that surgery was scheduled for the following Tuesday.
During that weekend my father went to take the trash to the dump before the start of the UT game. He never came back from that trip.
My father went and got high one last time and took his life.
This single decision from one man has tried to define my entire life since that happened.
The enemy has whispered to me often that all I am is the son of an addict who committed suicide. And the truth is, on my own, that’s true.
But God is greater than the acts of men.
God is greater than my bloodline.
God is greater than all the lies the enemy says to you.
God is greater than your flesh and blood.
He saves us from our sins and the things that we think define us.
So, to pick up back in my 8th grade year…. To be honest, I found myself mad at God. I didn’t understand why the story I just told you was MY story. Why was my father the one that had to die? Does God really turn bad things to good?
I wrestled with these types of questions and with the things my friends did around me until I was halfway through my sophomore year of high school.
God started pursuing me hard that year. He started convicting me and drawing me to read His Word and crave it. That is when I decided to go all in with God.
It had been so easy for me to drift to negative thoughts and see the bad things in my life. When I looked up and noticed how much God had blessed me, it’s so easy to see the love of God. I was so blessed that God brought a very godly man to marry my mom. Deron Jaggers, who is my dad, has shown my brother and I what love from God looks like. My Dad had no obligation to love us as he has… but he did. That is similar to the way God loves you and I.
I found God to be faithful and that He isn’t afraid or unprepared to answer big scary questions you may have.
One of the best answers, I ever got to these type questions, is when I realized that this world and everyone in it is affected by sin. I will never forget hearing this truth. My father had struggles and just couldn’t beat them. I have struggles, and you have struggles. The difference is when you are walking in an everyday relationship with God you can overcome them by being covered in the grace of God and walking in that freedom.
So how does this apply to your life?
Have you heard of the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-24)—Just like the father in that story, God is not mad at you. God is excited for us to come to Him for the first time or to come back to Him.
Galatians 1:23-24. Your life can flip completely around like Paul’s did when you are completely sold out and captivated by the Gospel of Jesus. Paul was attacking believers and turned a 180 because of Jesus. If God really captures your heart and soul, you can be used by him and for him coming out of any situation.
Galatians 2:20-21. If we are followers of Jesus it is no longer ourselves that guide our lives. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” What does this mean in our lives? We are called to live each day for the purposes of God and His Kingdom.
3 ways to make God who you live for:
• If you haven’t yet, give your life to Christ
• Ask God the hard questions about anything and everything.
• Make time to surround yourself with God’s word. God’s word is life giving and changes your heart.
My sophomore year, I began to read the Bible as never before. At first it seemed like every other book I had ever read, but as I kept reading things started to change in me. A daily discipline of being in the Word of God helped me to learn who God is and who I am in light of that.
Coming to church is great, but I can’t express enough the importance and power of making reading the Word of a priority in your life. If I could tell you to start doing one thing for your spiritual growth that would be it.
Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. (Matt 16:24-26)
As we daily die to self, as we hold on to the promise that God can bring good from hard as we keep following Him, He gives us peace. (Rom 8:28)
As we ask God over and over through His Word and ask Him to have His way in our hearts and in our lives, He does things exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ask or imagine. (Eph 3:20)
No, we may not be where we need to be. (I’m sure not!) But, why not let today be the day you decide to follow Him completely??
But to trust Him, to come after Him, our eyes have to be daily turned away from this world and all the flimsy things we try to lean on and focus on Jesus.
The One who died for us—HE won’t leave us-He has us.
Are you ready to give Him ALL your life and be BOLD and live for Him??
There is nothing better!
— Ben Jaggers
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