Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. John 13: 3-5
The thing that astonishes me about Jesus is that His exalted position and unlimited power motivated Him to serve. And He didn’t just serve in an ordinary capacity, but in the lowliest of positions to do what no one else would do. So He was born in a stable as an infant rather than appear in a palace as a king. He built things for others as a carpenter rather than having things built for Him as a land owner. He went to places defiled by lepers and prostitutes to touch them and become one with them rather than places of honor to be separate from them. He died alone on a cross to save all of humanity rather than a bed surrounded by friends to save His dignity. And when He walked into that upper room to share a final meal with His disciples and knew He was God in flesh, His response was to serve rather than be served.
The path to peace, joy, purpose, and health in this life is not found in gratifying myself in places of comfort and positions of power, but in loving others in places of need and positions of service. When I developed recurrent cardiac symptoms, my initial response was one of denial. But I have discovered that any journey to health is a journey to self-awareness. Before we can help others, we must know who we are and what we have to offer. We see this principle illustrated in the life of Jesus in John 13. It is because Jesus was self-aware that He served others. It is because Jesus knew that He was God that He knew what He had to do.
Today I am more aware than ever before that I am a child of God defined by His love and grace in my life, not by the failed bypass grafts or small arteries in my heart. Though I continue to seek the best path forward to treat my cardiac condition, I realize true healing only comes as I humble myself to God’s will for my life and His presence in my heart. It’s okay that I can’t ride my bike as fast, run as much, or swim like I once could. Those things are fun and good. But they are not the things I must do to find peace and joy in life. Rather, as a child of God, I simply need to humble myself to the will of God and be the hands and feet of Jesus to those around me. Once I know who I am, I know what I need to do.
So it’s true. My cardiac condition does not define who I am. God does. Once I embraced this fact, I realized that He has my heart in His hands. I now know that my health challenge does not limit what God wants to accomplish in and through me. In fact, I know that my heart condition is a blessing as I allow it to inform me about my mortality in this life and the assurance of immortality in the next. The amazing thing about my own health challenge is that my heart has become more open to God’s heart resulting in more peace than ever before. Perhaps this is what Paul meant when he said, Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
If you’re looking for peace and purpose in life, perhaps you have not yet discovered your true identity. What would it look like to see yourself as a child of God? How would that change who you are and what you would do?