Defining Myself

I read a social media post by a young man trying to make a difference in the lives of others, but also (apparently) trying to use his own strategies and directions. His frustration with yet another failed project is captured in his following statement: “…Especially when it’s just one more thing in an astronomically long list of things I’ve used to define myself that has also wound up in a huge time investment with no return.”

Did you see it, his perspective on using this project to define himself? Perhaps I recognized it because the same trap often catches me. I have come up with some strategy to “serve” God and have asked Him to get on board with my idea, assuming He would be inclined to do so, especially since that is the way I wanted to serve Him. When it does not seem to work out, I feel defeated and discouraged. There it is folks. My disappointment and discouragement are the “tell tale” indications that I was doing it for me all along.

God’s ways being higher than my ways, often make a strategy that I see as less desirable, actually being the strategy God prefers. God sees around the corners and is never limited to the linear approach to goals and the singlular target approaches I use. He accomplishes much with every decision and I just can not do that kind of planning.

I smiled when I saw the young man’s statement because I see both a good heart, and the old familiar trap of “it is really about me.” I know what it looks like when I do that. What does it look like in your life?

Photo: Heartlight.org

The Unpredictable

I read recently that when something unusual happens, pay attention. God is doing something. I don’t know where I read it. If it was your blog, email or post please accept my apology for the lack of credits. I just do not remember.

Paying attention to what is happening, especially when it is out of the ordinary can present a huge challenge. We easily get transferred to our own agendas when life becomes predictable. We forget the encouragement James gave the refuges to say (actually say) if God wills I will do this or that. We just make our plans because, after all, things are predictable.

When the predictability fails we are likely caught with the “deer in the headlights” look wondering what just did (or did not) happen. If the whole “deer in the headlights” thing confuses any of my readers, just think of the expression on someone’s face at a paralyzing moment when facing the unexpected.

When the unexpected happens… Actually nothing unexpected can happen if we are walking through life assuming God is working and guiding events. We just deal with whatever He sends our way without getting anxious , flustered, or irritated. Having no expectations other than absolute confidence in God’s involvement is critical to experiencing the “Peace that passes understanding.” It has nothing to do with circumstances or results, only confidence in God’s involvement.

Be “All In” and pay attention when the unpredictable happens. God is doing something special.

photo credit: Unpredictable collaboration (detail) via photopin (license)

Trust But Verify

We are prone to accept the conventional wisdom of the day, and resist ideas that conflict with what “everybody just knows.” After all, it is expensive to challenge the norms of culture. There is laughing, teasing, ridicule, and sometimes even being ostracized. Nobody wants to have that happen.

There have been uncountable hoards who have “smoked like chimneys” and, concerning alcohol, “drank like fish.”  Thinking about that expression, it really does not make sense does it?

I digress, so back to the subject: many people throughout history have smoked and drank a lot for a variety of reasons, but Enrico Caruso, the great operatic tenor did both for the expressed purpose of “protecting his voice!” By the way… he died at the age of 48.

I wonder sometimes how many of the “truths” and “conclusions” of my culture I accept, just because I have always been told they are true. It is easy for me to expect others to challenge their beliefs and verify them with Scripture. It is more difficult for me to employ that same objectivity test to my beliefs.

As an “All In” follower, I must be willing and be involved in doing just that. My comfort should be found in God’s truth that sets me free (John 8:32). All to often I find my comfort in familiarity instead. I must change. It is wonderful that God loves me anyway as I grow.

Join me in the ongoing challenge to be “All In.”

Photo: Enrico Caruso postcard circa 1910

Planning For The Future

Reading  excerpts from a collection of trivia (Okay, it was one of the “Bathroom Reader” books) I ran across a most intriguing tidbit: “The average American home has 8 extra rolls of toilet paper.” That begs several questions, a few being:

  1. Who would do such research?
  2. How would they go about it?
  3. Who cares?

That aside, it occurs to me that as people, we tend to “plan for the future” in some areas of life and ignore the future in others. That is, of course, understandable, and as it should be I suppose. However, the “areas” we choose to plan ahead for, as well as those we choose not to plan for, seem to be randomly differentiated or else just chosen subjectively.

Since the practice of successful waste elimination in the outdoors seems to be a disappearing skill set, the whole toilet paper reserve is predictable. I must admit that even I buy that particular commodity by the case.

It would seem that the same attention to avoiding future inconveniences and calamities would be applied to the certainties that have more far reaching consequences. Take “eternity” for example.

If you end up without toilet paper you are inconvenienced and (perhaps) embarrassed. If, however you end up in eternity without the blood of Jesus, the consequences are infinitely more extreme and never become a humorous memory told at family gatherings.

Planning for the future in some things is a good practice. The key to wise planning is choosing the eventualities carefully.