We would drive by the home of our dentist on our way to church every week. It was a large brick home with a slate roof. I can still picture it in my mind today as a symbol of wealth, status, and position. This beautiful home backed up to the most prestigious country club in town. Very fitting for such a stately home. And so began my quest for the comforts in life that only money can provide. Turning away from God’s calling into pastoral ministry, I pursued a degree in medicine. But what I was really pursuing was wealth, status, and position that I had seen on my way to church week after week throughout my childhood.
At first it may seem unusual that God’s calling in my life would be derailed on the way to church. But in actuality, my journey is quite typical. You see, it’s the distractions along the way that often derail us from the path God knows is best for us. When we focus on the distractions in life, we lose our focus on God’s path. We may be on our way to church, we may even get to church, but if we are focused on the distractions along the way we will not be free to focus on Him. We celebrate our freedom to focus on the distractions not realizing we are becoming enslaved by them. This is why Paul writes in Galatians 4:9, “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?”
It doesn’t matter how good and even noble the distractions happen to be, like a career in medicine or a lovely home on a golf course. If they displace your focus from God’s path, then they will enslave you. The reality is that God knows your heart better than you do. He knows that I struggle with wealth, status, and position – all the things a career in medicine could give me. That is exactly why He called me into pastoral ministry. Wealth, status, and position are “worthless elementary principles of the world.” I have found freedom in Jesus Christ to be the enduring principle of life and the path I truly desire to follow. It’s a journey of faith. It’s an adventure in trust. Ultimately, it is the pursuit of freedom.
This is why I find the $1.8 million capital campaign for the expansion of our church to be, for me, an exercise of my freedom in Jesus. Today I drive by beautiful homes occupied by physicians on my way to church every day. But rather than distractions, they are now reminders of my calling and the freedom I have in Jesus to stay on His path for me. This is why I can give to this capital campaign from my retirement plan funded by my career in medicine. It has a certain poetic justice. It is an expression of the freedom I have found in God’s way for my life.
This week in the Richland Seventh-day Adventist Church, Pastor Ron Sydney will be sharing his journey to freedom in Jesus. If you are in the area, come each night at 6:30 pm, March 15-23. You might just discover what distractions are derailing you from God’s path for your life. May you find freedom from the distractions of the “worthless elementary principles of the world.”