Living for something larger than yourself is thought to be a noble thing. The 'larger thing' is often a cause, a belief or a higher good. Most people want their life to count in strong ways and to be affiliated with something that will live beyond their funeral. If we are honest, for most people, the idea of living for something larger than themselves remains an idea, a dream and just before their funeral, it becomes a regret; "If I would have only...". How many times have we thought about venturing out on mission for a cause, a belief or a higher good and haven't?
I think most people live in too much comfort to sell out to the 'larger thing'. It takes courage to trudge out in a new direction or to throw your hat, your life and energy into the ring of a cause, belief or higher good. For many of us who live in fear, we often still hold on to the dream of living for a higher good and attempt to live them out in video games, reality shows or in our day dreams.
The Bible retells many rich stories of people who wanted to do great things and follow God, but didn't. The Bible is also full of many rich stories of those who did. There is an obscure Bible character found in 2 Samuel who wanted to do great things for God and did. He lived the adventure, but not without cost and being tempted not to. Maybe we can learn some things from Ittai the Gittite.
Ittai had just arrived in Jerusalem the day before the exile from Absalom began (2 Samuel 15:20). He had come to be part of David's kingdom when he found out about David's son, Absalom's conspiracy. As a foreigner in Jerusalem, Ittai and his family would have been safe to stay in the city and become part of Absalom's kingdom. He could have chosen the more comfortable route of safety and security. Who could have blamed him, after all, he just moved his family from a long distance and arrived the day before. They were exhausted! He could have remained and have been comfortable but instead, he chose to follow the adventure that he began, he wanted to be with King David.
As Ittai gathered up his family once again to move, he passed by David and the King asked him a question.
"Why will you also go with us? Return and remain with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile; return to your own place. You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander with us, while I go where I will? Return and take back your brothers; mercy and truth be with you." 2 Samuel 15:19-20
Ittai chose to live a life of adventure. He threw his hat into the ring of something larger than himself. He chose to align with King David no matter what the cost. He was going to live for something larger than his own comfort, dreams or advancement. Ittai was willing to give everything for the adventure of following King David.
"But Ittai answered the king and said, 'As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life, there also your servant will be.'" 2 Samuel 15:21
Ittai was so sold out that he involved his whole family as well.
Therefore David said to Ittai, "Go and pass over." So Ittai the Gittite passed over with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. 2 Samuel 15:22
Ittai's allegiance to King David caught the King's attention. Ittai quickly proved himself and his allegiance. He rapidly became a leader for King David. He was a man on a mission and in great danger he put himself and his family at risk for the adventure that he may have always dreamt about.
David sent the people out, one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and one third under the command of Ittai the Gittite." 2 Samuel 18:2
What can we learn from Ittai the Gittite? It seems as though Ittai felt he had nothing if he wasn't able to live life in the King's presence and to be on the King's mission. He was willing to die for the King. He was willing to put his family at great risk to be in the presence of the King. You may think this seems extreme but I would say it sounds exactly like what God desires for those who throw their hat in His ring. If you don't think so, click on this link and take a look at these passages from the lips of Jesus to those wishing to become His followers.
Do you desire to live for something larger than yourself, namely Jesus Christ?
Are you willing to live out His adventure for you instead of dreaming about adventure?
The cost of living the adventure is not always as dramatic as Ittai's, but it does require a heart that is willing for it to be that dramatic. Living on mission is rarely comfortable. It is fraught with potholes, ambushes and other dangerous situations. However, when we follow King Jesus, we can be assured that the destination is one that will cause us to be stronger in character and spiritual might for His glory. Your stories and legacy will go on long beyond your eulogy.
How does that sound to you?