Sitting in church recently, the priest tried to stir the congregation by clapping his hands loudly and saying, “Did you hear me? I am reminding you that God lives in you, that God is already with you. That should call for a joyous reaction!”
He was in the middle of a sermon on John 15:1-11 (I Am the True Vine) and was earnestly trying to emphasize that Jesus abides within us if we choose to abide in him. The priest went on to explain that if we abide in him and accept his presence in us, then we can surely strive to do good in all things. “For apart from [Him, we] can do nothing” (verse 5).
Referring to our efforts to seek God, to follow Jesus’ commands, to live according to the Word, he said, “It is not perfection, it is a determined destination.”
I loved that. The words “determined destination” that day spoke volumes to me – much more than potential relatable phrases, such as “our best efforts,” “striving to be like Jesus,” or “a reachable goal.”
When we are “determined,” we do not let much get in our way. We rise and fall with the tides in life, with our personal, familial, and even financial circumstances, with grounded faith, and we keep on going. We are “determined” to reach the perfection that is Jesus Christ.
Over the past few months, our three sons have engaged in sibling fighting so much more so than ever before. Every day, we find ourselves among yelling, frustrated brothers, and typically, once one is frustrated, a chase to catch and “punish” the other ensues.
It is exhausting and often very discouraging as their mom. I catch myself focusing solely on these sibling spats and overlooking the calm moments (when they do reappear) of them interacting peacefully with one another. Their arguing affects me so because I long – and pray – for them to grow to be a close band of brothers, to encourage and support each other, to cheer and cry with each other, to embrace their one-day families, and live in friendship with one another.
I realized that just like in my walk with Christ, striving to love like him and live like him, I cannot pursue perfection when it comes to my boys’ relationships with one another. But what I can do, is set myself on a path as their mother with a determined destination.
And I am determined to treasure our peaceful moments more than I have in the past. The moments when our middle son helps our youngest with his beginner reader books. The moments when the pre-teen oldest still finds joy in play time with his younger brothers, even if it comes during rowdy nerf wars. The moments when our youngest says “I love you” on his own to each brother at intentional times.
Perhaps working toward this determined destination requires more encouragement from me during these glimpses into their friendships instead of frustrated lessons on sibling love in the middle of their sibling spats. I am quite sure no one is tuned into mom’s advice during those times.
We underlined the following verse in Romans years ago, and now, with a fresh outlook toward their future, it will serve as our determined destination for these beautiful boys.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”