If you play golf, you know how frustrating a game it is. If you’re competing in a tournament, each bad shot threatens that you may lose the competition. This can make the golf round pretty stressful and emotionally painful.
But, how would you experience each of those bad shots IF you had been (hypothetically) supernaturally informed, in advance, that you WOULD win the round for sure? Then, the mistakes you made would not threaten you in any way. And you could be very peaceful inside as you played through the round knowing you were pre-destined to win. The other players wouldn’t understand how you could be so happy and peaceful, even when you made a costly, errant shot.
Can you see how this is a parallel to what I’ve been writing in this blog?
Fully believing the things written in this blog makes me (or you or anyone, I believe) feel like I’m flowing downstream and WITH the direction of the stream. It feels like effortlessly floating but,yet, the movement is rapid. And it’s a happy journey.
Most of us believe that the happy life is all about struggling to swim UPSTREAM, against the flow. We can’t believe that the stream will take us to a good place on it’s own so we fight the direction of the stream to search and find a better place than the stream would take us unhindered.
Below is a real email I sent this mornng to a friend. I thought it might help you to read some real interaction on the topics I’ve been writing about for all these posts. Monica is having some conflict at work. I’m responding to an email she sent me.
Monica – I like your thoughts. But, I think if it were me, my mind wouldn’t be working on WHY God is allowing this. Jesus said, “In this world you WILL have troubles. Be of good cheer. I’ve overcome the world.” So, we can expect this kind of troubles. The difference with us is that because of what we believe, we will react differently to the troubles. We can have a supernatural peace about the trouble because we’re in on a little secret. It’s this: that God knows my (or your) name. That we can have a peace inside about the troubles because God has the bigger picture fully under control and that you are highly favored by God and He will continue to bring blessings into your life that you don’t even deserve! And even when you misbehave or sin! Because of what you believe, you can be fully OK even when there are people against you at work. And, everyone will notice. But, this peace and joy inside you doesn’t come because you work hard to have it. It just grows naturally inside you because of what you believe. To have this peace can be quite effortless. It can just be THERE inside you if you believe rightly.
I’m so happy that you turn to spiritual thoughts when you have difficulties. Most people turn to the worldly “solutions” like plans/manipulation to try to make things right for them. You are going to have a beautiful life because of what you think/believe.
Remember, the work God requires of you is this: to believe rightly. It’s here you find the peace/joy to cope successfully with the difficulties of life. If you learn what is True and learn to believe it, then you will find peace/joy in all life’s troubles.
This is the best video I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s 8 minutes long. If a person could believe the Truth in this video, then peace/joy would be pretty much all day every day.
REPEAT: Peace/joy comes from what we believe, not from the efforts (i.e., the work we do) we do or what we accomplish.
TRUTH: God set it up on purpose that the work we do can’t bring durable, lasting peace/joy. Our efforts are designed, on purpose, to only satisfy for a bit, then to ultimately disappoint us. God hopes we will give up on our strategy of trying to accomplish peace/joy by our works.
What alcohol, sex, drugs, money, prestige, good deeds toward others, a trim waistline, a beautiful wife, successful kids, a good reputation, etc. couldn’t accomplish for me, RIGHT BELIEF (believing what God says is True) has accomplished for me.
Here’s an important question: Does God control all events in our earthly life or none of the events or something in between? I guess I’ve mostly lived my life as if He doesn’t control or even influence worldly events in my life. In other words, outcomes always seemed up to me and my efforts. In fact, I’ve believed that the NORMAL flow of events is that they screw up and turn out bad (this is entropy – look it up if you don’t know how I’m using this word here) UNLESS a human being works hard to make them turn out well. This is just what unbelieving people think and how they live, too.
But, as I’ve been exposed to the “radical grace” view that this blog is all about, I’ve learned that many believers live convinced that good results come from right belief, not from good work. They expect undeserved good things to happen to them as they learn to more and more try to believe that God will deliver undeserved good outcomes. Actually, as I’ve considered this view, I have noticed lots of good outcomes happening for me that I didn’t pursue with my own efforts. I’m waiting more often like a trout in a river, facing upstream and waiting to see what choice morsels the stream brings to eat. This is “as opposed to” furiously slashing and hunting to find food, as if the stream can’t be counted on to bring along enough available food. As I live more open to this belief, I’ve noticed lots of surprise, undeserved good outcomes coming my way.
I’m now finding myself open to the possibility that undeserved, unexpected good things may/will come my way each day.
This is a pretty advanced teaching, I think. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t get it or if it seems like nonsense to you.
THE WORLD SYSTEM – Control as much as you can:(1) Your behavior (2) the behavior of others if they affect your life (3) as many of your important circumstances as you can. If you do this well enough, and if you are smart and talented enough, this will lead to good outcomes, worldly success, financial, social, family, health, etc. This is how most of us live. Because it’s up to us to control and get results, this leads to stress and and attempt to control/manipulate others so we can get the outcome we desire. For me, this also led to bad temper and hostility toward others as they “failed me” and led to addictions in my own life as I’ve tried to tone down the emotional pain of not getting the results I think I want.
GOD’S GRACE – A DIFFERENT WAY: Believe you’re under the new covenant, which means that God will bring good outcomes not in proportion to your work in the World System, but in response to your belief that He will provide good outcomes. As for bad outcomes, take them as a blessing from God, although you can’t always see the blessing at the time of the bad outcome. Work toward believing that he will bring unmerited favor to your life much greater than what you deserve or what you worked for. Few people can believe this or live this way. It takes lots of growth to be able to believe and live this way. But, it’s worth the journey. Or at least it was for me.
I have been trying to move into living this new way. The World System was too painful for me. I had some success at it. But, it was very painful for me and those I love. It never brought me much peace/joy.
I’ve had some glimpses of how it feels to live in God’s Grace. For me, it has brought the strongest sense of peace/joy that I’ve ever experienced since childhood. But, part of me resists God’s Grace and wants to control things as written above. So, it’s an inner battle most of the time. But, worth it.
More than ever I’m getting somewhat fearful of all the freedom (that my sins are canceled) I’m experiencing. I continue to realize that I’ve used fear all my adult life to manage my behavior – like a parent. Things I was afraid of I often wouldn’t do (but sometimes would do). As I’m losing my fears because of this Gospel of Grace, I’m feeling nervous like I don’t know if I’m going to become a worse person and do “bad things” I wouldn’t have done in my past. Part of me wants to go back to the way I used to think. But I won’t. But I am having a bad day today. I’ve lost much of my peace/joy, temporarily, I’m sure.