“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” ―
I got to have lunch with a friend last week. We caught up on family and our work, as friends are supposed to do. But we also did some remembering and reminding. I think that’s another important role that friends ought to play in our lives. There’s probably too much distance being kept for fear of hurt feelings. In the end, we all end up living wounded lives because no one had the guts to help us steer clear of mishaps.
Afterwards, I came away realizing three big lessons in my own life that I lived through and am even now still trying to think about more clearly.
Walking in forgiveness
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” ―
There’s a way to live your life where you’re always trying to prove yourself. I really am worth loving, I really am worth being your friend, I really am worth having this job. Most of us walk around with this terrible guilt and shame hung around us – it weighs us down so that we always walk our steps with a hunch and limp.
What I’m trying to learn is that when I became a Christian and believed – that meant I was forgiven. I would forever live in a state of forgiveness. Not because I had been a good little boy. Not because I would work really hard the rest of my life to earn it. Not because I do all the outward acts and hold to all the inward beliefs that my group thinks are correct.
I walk in forgiveness because God has made it so and offered it to me. To be honest, this is next to impossible for me to live out day to day. I’m clinging to my guilty conscious like an addict. So, each day I need to be reminded that I’m walking in forgiveness. What helps me more than anything is to just forgive others. As simple as that. You’d be surprised at how many people you’re mad at at any given moment.
Here’s a great lesson to remind us what can mean (click the link)
Living in a broken world
What always helps me to deal with the tribulations and tragedies of living here and now is that this world is a broken place. This not heaven yet. There are all kinds of catastrophes, cancers, killers and crooks around every corner. To think that God is manipulating my every move and therefore everything that happens to me must have a divine purpose seems silly.
May Your will be accomplished on earth as it is in heaven. – Jesus (Luke 11)
Didn’t Jesus teach his followers to pray and ask God to bring about his will on earth as it is in heaven? I know it’s not always happening in my own life. Why would I think it’s happening all around me? We’re supposed to daily pray for it because it’s not always happening.
This changes my expectations when things don’t work out. Even when I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing and I still get rear-ended on the freeway, I don’t have to throw away my faith.
In this world, you will be plagued with times of trouble… – Jesus (John 16:33)
We like to think that God is an American too. Managing and controlling life, fixing every problem after reading the latest self-help book, staying on top of each situation by consulting the right expert (or google). We don’t like having to endure, we want to quick fix it now. Instant faith is our method (just add some water and put it in the microwave).
“Trouble makes us one with every human being in the world – and unless we touch others, we’re out of touch with life.” ―
During lunch we both shared our stories of grief, failures and heartaches. Realizing we weren’t alone, everyone has had their own dark days. Doesn’t sound very encouraging does it? I promise I’m great at lunch.
Being reminded of this truth can keep you from being mad at God. That’s a life wreck waiting to happen if ever there was one.
The cart before the horse
College students no longer understand idioms like this. I once asked every member of my class to get up and go write on the board what they thought “If the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem you see is a nail” meant. You wouldn’t believe what ended up on the board. No correct answer either!
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” ― Dwight D. Eisenhower
I often wake up in my spiritual journey and wonder why God hasn’t delivered my special order. I told him all the details, following what I understood to be his guidelines, and my expectations are that he will hand me just what I want. As a product of my society deep down, god has been changed into a vending machine, drive-up window or a happiness charm hanging around my neck.
No one in their right mind would ever admit that – but just watch the way you act, talk and pray with God.
When I really think about it, this makes me sick to my stomach. It doesn’t surprise me. I think I’m very smart and know just what needs to be done. I’ve got a great plan all figured out, all God needs to do is follow the steps I’ve laid out. As I type this is, it sounds silly. I can’t believe I still operate like this so often!
My friend and I were sharing disappointments in our lives – there were times when we both thought we knew exactly what should happen next, but it didn’t. This can leave not only terrible disappointment, but also deeper (unasked) questions for the captain of the ship.
I’ve got nothing against planning. What I’m writing about is my own Messiah Complex – I know how to save the day, just follow these three easy steps and all will be fine in the end. My own need to be needed gets in the way. I’m talking too much, aren’t I? Who’s doing the listening around here?
I shudder when I look back at all of the TODAY’S that I missed as I had my head stuck in the fog of tomorrow. What a colossal waste. Years!
God always takes care of me, always delivers from disaster, always gets me out of the tangle I’ve wandered into. He can be trusted to come up with a great big plan. By the way, I think he has and I think it’s actually going to occur when all is said and done…
“Adulthood brings with it the pernicious illusion of control, and perhaps even depends on it. I mean that mirage of dominion over our own life that allows us to feel like adults, for we associate maturity with autonomy, the sovereign right to determine what is going to happen to us next. Disillusion comes sooner or later, but it always comes, it doesn’t miss an appointment, it never has.” ―
As I get older (and older), what I’m repeating to myself and others is to look for the task at hand TODAY – don’t miss it. All I’ve got is now, I need to forgive, plan and expect as if today really, really matters. It’s hard to do when you’re tired, fighting a cold, have bitten off too much at work, or just not talking to people. Start your today being more conscious, think about specific people in your life, put some forgiveness in your pocket, lower expectations, and open your eyes.
“The beginning is always today.” ―