Wow. There is so much hurt in that piece. So much pain shows through. I must have really been hurting when I wrote that. But it was the truth – that is how I felt at that time, as well as many times before that and many times after. It is hard to know how to formulate an answer to that diatribe. It is all so raw and heartfelt. If I were reading it and knew that someone else had written it (instead of me), I wouldn’t want to jump in on top of him quoting Bible verses and telling him how he’s wrong. That wouldn’t do any good at all, but would most likely alienate him more, driving him further away from God.
I guess one of the first things I’ll say in response is that God has been gracious in allowing me to see a different way to look at life and life events over the last few months. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I’ve got everything all figured out by any means. But I have been blessed to read books, listen to audio, and take part in exercises that are designed to give one a more proactive, healthier approach to dealing with life. I’ve still got a very long way to go, but just learning about these methods and beginning to use them to a degree has already made a noticeable impact on my thought patterns.
Life may still seem like a lazy river full of people from all different walks of life, but I would say that now I view the scene much differently. If asked to describe the lazy river experience now, I would say first of all that there’s much I don’t know and don’t understand about the “ride”. I don’t fully understand why we’re all on the ride, other than that God created us and started us all at the beginning of the ride. For many different reasons (reasons that have taken up books and books of explanation), we don’t all begin with the same equipment, and along the way our experience may change dramatically, either for better or for worse.
For example, at the beginning of the ride we may be floating merrily along on a fine inner-tube, only to have it punctured by a low-hanging limb or other unforeseen object, leaving us drifting in the water. On the other hand, we may find an orphaned pair of sunglasses lying on the edge of the water and, stretching with all our might, manage to snag them as we pass by. Now we have protection from the sun for our weary eyes. Are these all happenstance events? I believe ‘no’ is the correct answer, as God orchestrates everything in our lives according to His will. We will never understand it all while we’re alive on this earth, and maybe we won’t even understand once those of us who have chosen Christ reach Heaven, but it is truth to say that God’s plan includes us, and in the end all works out for the best to those who have placed their trust in Him.
Yes, I know this all sounds very high and mighty, and I struggle with this truth often – very, very often. But somewhere deep down inside I know that this IS truth and that if I hold fast to it, I will be OK. Quite often the flesh part of my nature is not satisfied with trusting in God, and instead wants to rebel and whine about why something is the way it is when it doesn’t make sense that way.
But in the end I must simply trust God. What other choice do I have, or anybody else for that matter? We are here, like it or not, and I believe it is in our best interest to align ourselves with the Creator of all this that we see. But it goes beyond merely aligning ourselves with God. We are commanded to worship Him, giving Him the honor He deserves. We are His created beings, designed and built to worship and serve. Now, I will be the first to tell you that these ideas often do not sit well with me. God knows this, so it’s no surprise to Him. For a good part of my life I have felt that I was entitled to do my own thing. So that’s what I have done, for the most part. Oh, I’ve tried to include God along the way, hoping that His plans would fit in with mine. Sometimes they have, but it seems like more often than not I am on my own, wondering what ended up happening, and wondering why God did not give me clear direction. Obviously, this is no way to live. Unfortunately, this has pretty much been my story since my late teen years.
This is why I say that we really have no choice but to try it God’s way. He tells us over and over in the Bible to trust Him. Proverbs 3:5-6 is one of my life verses. It’s the one I go back to time and time again when I finally realize that I don’t have all the answers and that maybe there is a better way. “Ooooh yeaaaaaah – trust God. I had forgotten all about that. Let’s give it a try.”
I can’t say that every situation has always worked out the way I wanted it to or thought that it would, but somehow everything has always worked out. Most of the times the terrible outcomes that I’ve built up so much in my mind never come to pass. It seems that it’s not so much that there’s increasing suspense, with a grand moment waiting to find out the outcome of a situation. It’s more like the whole thing evolves into something different, so much that the original fear and anxiety melt away as the situation becomes something else altogether. This is simply my casual observation, and may not hold true for others.
Back to the lazy river analogy. As I’m floating along, I simply must trust God that He knows what He’s doing. I believe it is to my advantage to praise Him and thank Him throughout the ride. By acknowledging His workmanship in the beautiful clouds overhead, or the birds chirping in the trees along the bank, not only am I give Him honor and praise, I’m also helping myself by keeping my thoughts focused on the positive things in life, instead of the negative. It is no coincidence that this action agrees with Paul’s commands in Philippians 4:8 to do just that.
No only is it disobedience to God in the form of envy, it will do me no good to look around at the other riders and compare my circumstances with theirs. No matter if they appear better off, or worse, I will have more joy and worship God more fully by showing my gratitude for what I have, trusting God all the while.
At the end of the lazy river ride, however, is when the fun really begins – at least for those of us who have made Jesus our Lord and call ourselves Christ-followers. We will all have to wait patiently and endure until that day..