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Posts Tagged ‘life’

How many times have you gritted your teeth and determined to stop doing that thing you want to stop (or start that thing you know is right)?  How many times have you faced the shopping mall and told yourself you’re not going to buy another overpriced outfit?  How many alcoholics have said NO just before downing that next drink?

The DARE program says this is all it takes.  They tell us that if we just Say NO to Drugs that is enough.  Is it?  For those already battling the addiction, it is not enough.  There has to be something more.

The word YES is beautiful.  It demonstrates a conscious choice to do something positive.  And when used to choose the negative, then at least it’s done with determination and not merely gravitation toward an old unwanted habit.  But we can say YES to something better.  We can choose the park over the mall, and we can choose sobriety over a life ruled by another.

But there’s a bigger picture.  What if we said yes to something that encompassed more than just the issues before us?  What if we said yes to a whole new way of thinking?  What if we had a change of heart?  Instead of living by mind-over-matter, what if we could live by a 180-degree turn of our very soul?

I wonder if this is not what Jesus meant when he told a very prominent ruler that he “must be born again.”  Paul told the Roman church that “to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”  I wonder if focusing on behavior is not “setting the mind on the flesh.”

I think life and peace sound much better.  I think if I let Jesus change my life and not just my behavior, it makes for a much more cohesive way of life.   A change of heart.  Consistency.  And I think that if I let Him change my heart, I can then choose not only better behaviors, but better attitudes, like forgiveness-over-bitterness, or contentment-over-jealousy.

I’ve seen it happen.

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There are a few who would argue with my position that everyone loves life.  I hear them say, “I hate my life,” or, “Life sucks.”  That doesn’t sound like a love of life, does it?

But we all have a survival instinct.  We want to live.  And the fact that we know our circumstances are not good indicates that we know there is something better.  That something better is life.  And that’s what we’re after.  Real life.

So I suppose it’s really a question of evil and pain and where it all comes from.  The big answer is that we live in a spoiled universe, and that things are not as God intended.  They will be again someday, but we live in the here and now.  I heard of a question that a grieving mother posed to God in the height of her pain after the death of her young son.  She asked what any of us would ask:  “God, where were you when my son died?”  She believed God could have prevented it, and she was right.  But instead she was dealt the loss of one dear to her.  Then, in her heart of hearts, she heard an inaudible voice answer, “Right where I was when My Son died.”

You see, God doesn’t change, He doesn’t move, and His love and power don’t fluctuate.  He grieves with us.  He offers solace.  He offers a better life.  He challenges us, encourages us, and partners with us.

Sometimes the thing we aim for is not the thing we achieve.  Sometimes our target is wrong.  “I just want to be happy.”  So I try this or that, and strive to get people to do what I want to make me happy.  There!  That should do it.  Right?  Oh, wait.  That wasn’t it.    So I try something else.  It lasts for awhile…

But what if I forget about myself and aim for something entirely different?  What if I try to make someone else happy instead?  It’s kind of a “cast your bread upon the waters” thing.  Maybe that’s where I find life.  Perhaps I was looking in the wrong place.  (If you voted for this answer, you passed the course.  Well done!)

But back to the “He offers a better life” part.  If her son is still dead, how is that better?  The answer, I believe, is in the hope.  Not in the hope of his return to this earth, but in the hope that comes from trusting the One who holds all things, despite the rottenness that we live in.  We hope for better and it will happen, some of it later, but some of it now.

The Bible talks about the whole creation “groaning” for the restoration of all things.  All things.  That’s not just people, but this whole planet, at least.  God’s going to make it all better.  He’s going to return it to its original condition as when He first made it, the way it was before death and ugliness entered in.  And for now, the place where we live today, He really does walk through it with us.  That’s my hope, and it’s been my life.

 

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We like to put things into categories, don’t we?  It makes us feel safe and comfortable.  It makes us feel like we are in control if we can identify where something belongs or where things come from.  We don’t like to think of anything as random.  That’s awkward and poses too many unanswerable questions.

We have a category for friends and another for family.  We have one for work and one for play.  Some things are important while others are trivial.  Some movies are dramatic and others comedic. We have free time and we have schedules.

So I pose the question:  Is there also room for a distinction between sacred and secular?  Some things are a matter of faith while others are scientific, right?   The manger is religious and Santa is fun.  Praying is sacred and playing is secular. Sunday morning belongs to God and Monday ushers us back into the real world.  Or so we think.  But how do we categorize kindness or beauty or celebration?  Are they done by reason or by inspiration?  How does work fit into these lists?  Or money?  Or our homes?  Where are we to draw the line?

Let’s imagine for a moment that the categories have different names.  Or better yet, let’s imagine there is no line at all.  The first thing we have to do is take a careful look at our columns and then – erase the line between them.  There is no secular.  There is no sacred.  It’s all one category.  It’s called life.

Now admittedly, not all things in life are good, and much of it is downright evil.  There is regret and there is slander, there is injustice and arrogance, hatred and greed.  What do we do with these?  Are we to call these life as well?  Certainly they are within the experience of each one of us, but there is a very important distinction which must be made:  there is a category called sin and it is not to be minimized.  But here’s the liberating thing – if it’s not sin, it’s life, and life is OK!

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