That’s probably why I like Burger King so much since you can have things “your way” there! Ok, so I really can’t stand Burger King, but work with me.
If my brothers are reading this blog they most likely are smiling and shouting AMEN no matter where they are. They had to grow up with a selfish punk older brother like me who probably made their life brutal because of my need to have things my way. As the first born I was the one that got to do things first, get the new stuff, and choose the path that the rest of us went down. It wasn’t my parents fault because I’m sure I am doing this with my first born too! As it stood I got to do pretty much anything I wanted because we had no experience to say if it was a good or bad decision! So to Brad and Brandon, I’m sorry boys. Hope I can make it up to you somehow, but only when it fits in my schedule.
In all seriousness, all of us have this desire to have things our way regardless of birth order. We want life to happen when we want it and how we want it. Every single one of us could run the company more efficient than our boss, we could parent better than that mom over there, we could organize the practice schedule better than the coach, and we certainly should earn more money because we clearly do more than anyone else we work with.
Deeply woven within the frayed human fabric is an instinct to make things as easy as possible, most enjoyable, and most fitting into our needs over anyone else’s. The thought of putting someone else’s needs ahead of our own makes as much sense as buying a fur coat in Hawaii for winter.
However, from time to time this selfish shell cracks just a tad and shows what could be in the human spirit. We see it in the man who steps into the biker fight to save a family’s life. It’s the policeman who gives his shoes to the homeless man. It’s the woman that stops her car and saves a truck driver from a burning big rig. Occasionally we see what could be, but quickly that window gets clouded over by the cataracts of selfishness again.
Thankfully Jesus wouldn’t have liked Burger King because he didn’t have to have things “His way” while he walked this earth.
Jesus was teaching his disciples one day and told them that he “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) His entire ministry was about putting others before himself and ultimately giving his life up for them.
Yet in the garden of Gethsemenie we see one of the greatest examples of Jesus’ humanity for us to relate to and his strength for us to hold on to. To set the scene, Jesus’ death is immanent. He has made his way to Jerusalem, has entered the gates to people’s praise, ate his last meal with his disciples, and now is praying in the garden before he is to be murdered on the cross. However, in the middle of this chaotic moment of calmness before the storm He stops to pray. It’s in this time of prayer that we find this personal connection with Jesus.
“Abba Father, he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me.” (Mark 14:36a) This is where our humanity and Christ’s humanity match up. Just as Jesus didn’t want to suffer and die on the cross we’d prefer not to suffer in our life either. We ask God to take things away in our life all the time, but where our humanity skews from Christ is when God’s answer is “no”. When God doesn’t take the illness, when he doesn’t make her love you back, and when the kids still walk away that is when our “I want it my way” attitude invades our spirit and poisons us. Praise God that is not what Jesus demonstrated to us in his life and this prayer to the Father.
Jesus finishes, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36b)
He realizes that his Father’s way is ultimately what will be done and what needs to be done. The salvation of all mankind hinged on this moment and God had to allow it to happen. Jesus selflessly put our eternal existence ahead of his pain and laid down his life so that we would not have to feel the sting of death.
As Christians our response to Jesus’ gift of salvation must go beyond just accepting eternal life. It has to transcend into the way we live our life. I pray that we all can slowly let go of the white-knuckle grip we have on wanting things our way and place others ahead of our self. Ironically, this selfless way of living will always leave us feeling more satisfied than the wrinkle free, perfectly cooked, puppies and ponies life we think we want.
Find ways each and every day to set your needs on the shelf and give first priority to someone else around you. You’ll be surprised to see how easy they are to find! Give of yourself and in doing so you will find you are gaining more of who you were meant to be.