In Part 1 of this blog series, I talked about my humble beginnings and how it gave me an understanding of what country living is all about. If you would like to read Part 1, you can check it out here.
In Part 2 of this blog series, we talked about how Jesus gave life-giving encounters to those He interacted with. We also talked about using Jesus as a model for how we should treat others in our own lives. If you would like to read Part 2, you can check it out here.
In Part 3 of this blog series, we talked about the consequences of not living a life that is true to yourself. If we live fake lives, we are robbing ourselves of who we could be. If you would like to read Part 3, you can check it out here.
In Part 4 of this blog series, we talked about seeing the big picture and not focusing on the smaller things that can distract us. We need to keep rooted in the Bible to live the life that we were made to live. If you would like to read Part 4, you can check it out here.
I’m proud of the accomplishments I have made in my life and I am grateful that I have the opportunity to making a living working with animals and getting to travel around the country and work with all kinds of amazing people. I have seen and done things that I never could have imagined growing up. But I’m also very thankful for the lessons I learned growing up. I am so proud of where I started and know that it has influenced and will continue to influence who I am and the choices I make. No matter where I live, how much money I make, or any of the other accomplishments that might come my way, I’m still Bill Marsau from Hudson, Iowa.
Country people never lose sight of their roots, even if they had struggles at times. I live in town these days, but the country has never left my soul. Country people are never ashamed of their origins and I know that I am certainly not. Country people learned that being true to themselves means remaining humble, resourceful, and resilient.
No matter how successful country people become, they never lose sight of the lessons they learned growing up. The importance of family. The importance of keeping their word. The importance of looking someone in the eye and offering their hand in assistance. Staying true to His small-town roots, Jesus never wavered from His purpose of pointing people back to His Father’s love. He reminds us to remain grounded even as we shoot for the stars, to remember where we came from while chasing our dreams.
John Ortberg, pastor and writer, once was quoted as saying, “The problem with spending your life climbing up the ladder is that you will go right past Jesus, for He’s coming down.” I love that quote. Jesus is willing to come to us, wherever we are, and help us in our time of need. The problem is that if we do not have our focus on Him, we may not even see Him.
Take a few minutes and consider the following two questions:
Who are the people who’ve helped shape your values and faith?
Why have they had such a powerful impact on your life?
Sometimes heroes come in everyday form and may not have world-wide fame. If you have never told these people thanks, you really should. They poured out their time and efforts to help make you who you are today. You, in turn, need to this same thing for people you can help and influence. It creates an environment where everyone is pouring out into one another and we all gain from it.
2 Timothy 1:1-5 (NIV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,
2 To Timothy, my dear son:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
The idea of helping others and passing your faith on to the younger generation has been around for thousands of years. In this passage, Paul (who wrote this letter to Timothy) talks about serving just as his ancestors did. He learned this from the older generation. Paul talks about seeing a sincere faith in Timothy, which was present in Timothy’s ancestors and was passed down to him also. Just as we received our faith from our parents and grandparents, it is our responsibility to pass this on to the next generation.
Jesus didn’t come just to die for our sins, but also to empower us to lead lives that display God’s righteousness.
James 2:26 (NIV)
26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
Just as James is telling us in this passage, it shows us why it’s so important that we try to follow the example of humility, compassion, selflessness, and sacrifice that Christ demonstrated throughout His life. These are the qualities of Jesus and they are also what it means to be country.
There is one chapter of the Bible that I think sums up what being country is all about and I would like to share it with you here:
Philippians 2:1-15 (NIV)
2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very natureof a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.
We may leave the country, but the country never leaves us. You may not have had the privilege of growing up in the country like I did, but even if you didn’t; you can still learn and live out the lesson that growing up country teaches us all.