I made a decision before Christmas to spend more time in peace because my life has been in chaos mode for a while, as I struggle deeply with allowing minutiae to be relevant.
This is a serious undertaking. So I made a list.
I wrote down all of the junk which occupies my mind: serious, casual, insignificant, out of my control, good, bad, or otherwise. The compilation was three pages of bright yellow legal pad, double-columned.
The list included career stuff:
Do I want to stay in education?
Should I pursue writing full throttle?
Is happy with me?
(Repeat twenty kajillion times, changing verb randomly.)
Do I want to get married?
If I do want to get married, do I want to have kids?
If I do want to get married and have kids, what if I donít figure that part out before itís too late?
And a variety of other random issues which really donít matter.
I let the list percolate, adding items here and there which didnít immediately come to mind.
Examining all which troubles me, I circled everything in my control and created a new list.
Said new list was a whopping five lines long.
I could not make this up.
So basically, most of my energy was/ is placed on a seemingly endless list of garbage which shouldnít be on my radar.
I decided to keep the list of five things as a reminder when my thoughts go elsewhere, I need to change gears as not to waste time.
And I took the giant list, shredded, disposing of it at a gas station because I didnít want it near me.
Next, I had to be honest about the million dollar question:
Why on earth do I do this to myself?
The answer is simple: I do not trust God like I should.
Language as such is strong. But itís an important reality because bottom line, when we obsess over the incessant list of ridiculous, in or out of our control, or when we act outside of Godís law at all cost to protect what we think God wonít it is indeed the same lack of trust presented within the Bible over and over and over again.
Or more specifically: itís Jacob wrestling.
Born reaching for his brotherís heal, Jacob wrestled with Esau incessantly, hoping somehow to gain his fatherís approval.
He wrestled with his mother, who was aware of Godís plan, but did not realize her job was not to push it forward at all costs.
He wrestled with himself, recognizing Godís concept of morality, without wrapping his mind around it deeply enough to realize deception is not part of His plan.
Jacob wrestled with a father-in-law, who wrestled with greed and other worldly expectations versus what is best for his loved ones.
In marriage, Jacob wrestles with wives, as both were wrapped up in a complicated web of this need for approval, not from God, but from their husband and the world.
Eventually Jacob wrestled with God.
But in examining the endless turmoil in Jacobís life, all of it is a constant battle between self-reliance and God-reliance because Jacob didnít trust Him either.
Otherwise, why wrestle?
We werenít wired to operate like this. If we were perhaps the struggle wouldnít be so painful. But yet more of us do than not and this certainly explains why peace is so difficult: it only exists in the exclusive purpose of the will of God, who we obviously donít trust.
The Doctrine of the Elect hurts my brain to consider. The whole idea God chooses some and not others and somehow this relates to our own free will is mind boggling.
But in J.I. Packerís "Concise Theology", he creates some insight on the issue:
ďWhat are believers saved from? From their former position under the wrath of God, the dominion of sin, and the power of death; from their natural condition of being mastered by the world the flesh, and the devil; from the fears that a sinful life engenders, and from the many vicious habits that were part of itĒ (Packer 154).
And so, really, ďthey will know we are Christians by our loveĒ is palpable. And the greatest evidence of maturity within a spiritual walk is the ability to look beyond the endless list of minutiae and move closer to the simplicity of a focus exclusive to what God desires.
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