I began this blog several months ago as I began a spiritual journey of truly committing myself to the Lord and the principles by which he has shown we should live. When I began writing, I thought I had a good idea of where this would take me, what I would be learning and what I expected from life. What I didn't expect by living spiritually inclined, was to have my whole theological-philosophical foundation shaken and repositioned.
Over the past few months I have studied many chapters in the Bible and expressed my feelings, opinions, insights and, many times, this was done through the Spirit rather than through the mind. While I know, and can feel, that I have grown spiritually over this time, there has not been a significant "A-Ha!" moment in my studying...until now.
I didn't post on here at the end of last week because during my study and writing time the Spirit nudged me to continue reading in another book that I had started several weeks ago, but had put down. As I began to read, the Spirit revealed a paradigm shift that shook me to the core. It was an incredible moment of revelation that will have an impact on the rest of my life. I truly believe what was revealed to me is why my life has been such a struggle, and why, too, many Christians struggle as I have with this same issue of trying to "save ourselves."
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. Matt 16:25
Jesus came, and died, so that we could have grace and not live under the consequences of the law. We have been given the opportunity to give up our natural life, the one that is ruled by law- which says that you get what you deserve and God will punish you for making mistakes- for a life of grace, living spiritually inclined.
When we live according to the natural law, all responsibility for success and failure, happiness and sadness, pain and comfort, are a result of thoughts and actions in so much that we have "earned" whatever it is we are experiencing. This belief system is great when things in life are going smoothly because our ego can stand up, look around and say, "See, look how great I am!" But, when the wheels start to fall off and your world begins to collapse, there is no one there to step in because the ego continues to deny any shortcomings or mistakes. When we live under the law and continually attempt to "save ourselves", over time, it will lead us to a point dark despair, pain, loss and eventually (if we are lucky!) death of the ego. This is what Jesus refers to in Matthew 16:25. We have to be willing to give up living according to the natural law, to lose this life of "you get what you deserve" and that you "earn" everything that you have, in order to find your true life, life as God intended with his favor.
Therein lies the struggle of my life for the past 10 years. Somewhere along my path I bought into the belief system that "If it is to be, it's up to me!" Living this way puts an incredible amount of pressure on yourself to literally "be" God and make things happen. I could look around my life at any given moment and believe that I had created everything in it. My successful business was a result of my hard work, focus, talent, energy and enthusiasm. My great lifestyle was based on the result of my successful business. My families success and happiness was a result of my teachings and the experiences and opportunities that I gave them. That was when things were good. When things were bad, it was because I was bad. I wasn't focused enough on the right things, I wasn't working enough hours, I wasn't spending enough time at home, I wasn't getting enough sleep so my energy was down. ( Geez! As I write this I can hardly believe that anyone could put up with me!) This is the story of a man trying to save himself.
Living according the law provides the opportunity for huge swings in emotions. When success and failure are "controlled" by the individuals thoughts and actions, then highs and lows are inevitable. There are going to be days when your focus, energy and enthusiasm for life are off the charts. Then, there will be days when they are no where to be found. This creates a huge mood swing in the individual who looks around and takes credit and blame for everything in his life. And, a big AND here, he feels like he has either "earned" God's favor when things are going well, or has "earned" his wrath with things are not. Therefore, he continues to try to "please" or "appease" or win God's favor.
Jesus came and willfully, not forcibly, died on the cross for you and me. That willful gift of his life gives you and me the opportunity for a "new" life in him- a life without the law- a life of grace. I would consider myself a PhD on the merits of a life under the law, but a life of grace, I know very little and have experienced even less. I do know what I have read and studied and that is that grace is a gift, given freely to those willing to accept it. Living under God's grace simply means God is on your side, he is in your corner and you are going to experience a life of favor that in no way, shape or form could you have "earned".
Grace is more than just forgiveness and acceptance. The analogy that comes to mind that helps me get my arms around this new idea is this: God can put you in a classroom, give you the greatest drivers education instructor in the world, give you the most high tech classroom resources, provide you with the safest car for training, give the most training in situational awareness-yet, YOU still have to drive the car, he won't. God will give us all the provisions for life. In fact he even says that we will have it all in abundance, if we live in his grace. But, we still have to take action. We still have to do the work. We have to use those provisions, i.e. the drivers training, etc, to go drive the car. And, we must recognize God's provisions in our daily lives and use them to move us forward along the path he has created for us.
I so look forward to studying, learning and living in God's grace. I truly believe this blog has been a provision for me to see and recognize God's grace in my life and to live spiritually inclined. I thank all of those who have been following my journey of spiritual growth and renewal. Hang in there with me. There is more to come. God's not done with me yet!