I’m learning to live by two rules.
And in their fundamentalism, I believe that they hold the key to solving most, if not all, of my problems and sins and heart-breaks. And perhaps yours, too.
You see, God and I have this thing going lately, and up front I really hated the arrangement. I despise when I find myself alone in the middle of the day, finishing up lunch and wandering campus to find motivation to do anything that will occupy my time in an intelligent manner. Often I just wander, weighing the pros and cons of where to go and what to do, and I’ll make it across half the campus and realize that I didn’t look up from my shoes and thoughts the entire time.
You know when you’re driving home from work or from work to you’re favorite coffee shop, and when you get there you realize that you don’t remember a single moment of the entire drive? That you must have used your turn signal and stopped at red lights and turned on your windshield wipers, but you truly cannot recall a single one of those instances? Because, to you, it didn’t matter how you got there or what happened along the way, as long as eventually you arrived where you were planning to go.
That’s me, most every day for the past two years, as I have walked through life. All I find myself thinking about is where I’m going, and all is lost about where I am. I’m sure there were newborn babies in mother’s arms at the table next to mine, and bees eating pollen out of flowers and perfect, crisp breezes blowing fiery red leaves across my path, but did I ever stop to allow life to be all it is to me?
No. Not nearly enough, at least. Which is ironic, since surely, whenever I get to wherever I’m going, I will only be thinking about what is to come.
And where does that put life? Forever in my rearview mirror.
I’ve blamed this behavior on a list of things. What can justify such a blatant lack of gratitude for the greatest gift given to man? My favorite excuse is my past. Is just too hard, too dark, too dirty. How can I move on? I’ve measured this world, and I’ve decided. It’s not good. How can it be?
How can what has hurt me so bad be “good”? I don’t feel grateful.
And so I’m not.
And that leaves me the kind of person that can’t find the goodness of the world when it’s staring me right in the face. Because it is, always, staring me right in the face. But I miss it, far too much, for I’m too busy complaining to God about all of the terrible things that have happened to me.
But it’s in these moments, when I wander campus alone, that the LORD leads me to quiet corners and empty classrooms. And it’s there, in the midst of my screaming discontentment, He speaks. I’ve learned to recognize these moments as growing pains, the ache of Christianity in which God makes me holy, as He is holy. And sometimes, it hurts. Bad.
And today, I need some Heavenly-Ibuprofen.
But it’s in these moments that the LORD has taught me these two rules, showed me that my mind runs far too fast for the simplicity of His grace in my life. That the reason I find myself so anxious and overwhelmed so much of the time is because I’m taking on far too many burdens I was never meant to carry.
For God’s handbook, written to me, I am realizing can be paraphrases in 11 words.
- This life is the greatest gift.
- Life like you believe it.
You see, my stumbling block has been that I thought it was my job to measure whether or not this world was good, whether or not my life was good. And when I tried to make this daunting decision, I was always overwhelmed by all of the incredibly difficult blows this world makes. And day after day, I would come to the decision that it wasn’t. It wasn’t good.
And my heart would break and I would walk down perfectly good streets and find every single crack in the asphalt.
But God whispers to me. Take that burden off of yourself. It’s not your decision whether or not this world is good. It is good. I have declared it so.
Do you believe that?
I am not God, and the brunt of my anxiety stems from when I try to play Him. My problems are not in the difficulties of this life, but from the fiery, rampant discontentment growing in my heart. The rotting moss of my fearful heart grows from a life lived without gratitude for the gift of life that has been given to me.
How dare I walk through life with such an entitled mind? Like this world is mine to define, like my life is mine to control? How dare I walk through my days wishing I was anywhere else, doing anything else, when Jesus came to this Earth and died to give me this life? This very moment, this breathing in and out?
This life is not my own, for I was bought with a price.
Therefore I must glorify God with my body.
For when I don’t, I am telling God that it is not good. When I don’t, I am relying on my own fallen mind to determine the state of the world and my life.
When I don’t I am looking straight at my Savior dying on the cross and telling Him not to bother. I won’t appreciate the gift anyway.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that you may have life, and have it abundantly.
This gift. Abundant life.
Bought with a price.
And this life is found not in pages of a planner and dreams of days to come. But it is found now, in this moment, as I wander the streets of campus on a Thursday afternoon.
And it is a gift.
Thank you, Lord. May I live like it.