Pastor Mike hit it out of the park this week preaching on Mark 10:13-16 (sermon will pop up here eventually if you want to watch it, scroll to the bottom for most recent sermons: http://www.calvaryoceanside.org/teachings.html#!/series/205480c ). He talked about what children are and are not. They aren’t innocent – every child knows how to lie. But what children are is simple, and they have simple faith in their parents.*
If you’ve been along for the ride, you know I’ve been talking a lot about faith, and my personal resolutions could be summed up nicely by “greater simplicity in faith and action”. To not hold myself back from good because of fear. Does a childlike faith include fear of consequence? No, for adults fear consequence, children do not. We have to teach them about consequences!
There’s two ways to think of the Christian walk. The first is striving. It has a long list of dos and don’ts, and it is constantly comparing itself with the way it perceives other people walking. The second is submission. It takes what God has said, and walks in daily submission to that – leaving the consequences of those actions to God.
Random example: Everyone talks about reading the Bible through in a year. I’ve done this most years for the past decade, and I read my Bible every morning. Certainly I agree that reading the whole Word of God in big enough chunks that you get back ’round to the odd bits that you’d never otherwise check out is a valuable enterprise. But. There is NOTHING in God’s Word that says, “Thou shalt read the entirety of My Word every year”. How about you just read it? Make a habit of reading it. Whatever way works for you. (I change my way up every time I make it through). We’re meant to hide God’s Word in our hearts, not enslave ourselves to a particular methodology – and NOT to compare ourselves with the Joneses or give up because we skipped a week or two when we hit Numbers and … there were a lot of numbers. There are no special gold sticker stars that you get for notching this off your completed tasks. It’s a good thing, it’s not God.
Mostly striving is like that. A long list of good things that would make the world a better place if everyone did them – but we aren’t all the same, and maybe we need to do other things. And more importantly, maybe we need to stop looking over at our neighbor’s paper and keep our eyes on our own. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you”.
I want to talk about faith and fear a little bit, because this hit me and I need to wriggle it out of my brain. I’m mature in my faith and I’ve been through some stuff. I’ve been tested and tried… and there is a continual part of me that holds itself back, steeling itself for the next trial. That little bit inside, just waiting for life to suck again. Because I know that Christianity isn’t an E-ticket to temporal happiness, I am on guard for temporal misery. I hold myself back from really enjoying things around me, or letting myself “lean on them” because I “should only lean on God”. Well. All things are from my Maker. I *don’t* think this is right. I think I’m … well, not sinning exactly, but I think I’m off-course.
I think I’m counting on my own inner resources rather than resting in simple faith in God. Like somehow I can win at the next trial by holding a stiff upper lip right now. That’s not faith in God, that’s the opposite. That’s sort of a “Okay, Lord. I’ll just hold tense, and You let me know when these shores are going to be rocky again, I’ve got this. I won’t let You down”.
Yeah. Typing that out was helpful, because seriously – what the heck? That’s ridiculous. Life isn’t a game where we do or don’t let God down! He knows that I’m weak, and He knows what my break point is. The purpose of life isn’t to glorify Hearthie or prove that she’s strong or mature or …, the purpose of life is to glorify God.
In my goal to work towards greater transparency, where I am more fully honest… how does that fit? It DOESN’T. And it gets in my way, because it (over time) makes me less able to *be* honest in my every day life. I can’t say what I really want, what makes me happy or what makes me miserable. Even to say, “I’d like a big fat chocolate sundae but I’m on a diet so I think not” is way more honest. What do kids do? Kids will ask you for the moon, even if you can barely put ramen on the table – if they want it.
I’m so afraid of consequences, of living life and enjoying life and just being who I am… I lose a lot. I lose a lot of time, because I’m afraid to be late. Or that I’ll be involved in something and someone will need me, so heaven forbid I lose myself in something. I try to control what the world sees… try to shape myself, when what I should be doing is getting out of the way and submitting to the Potter’s Hand.
Striving is just not where it’s at. Be simple. Submit. Relax and enjoy the ride. Maybe it will be bumpy, maybe it won’t, that’s really not your problem. Have faith in God and hold on to Him.
And remind me to be myself and stop trying to be who I’m not. K? Although probably I shouldn’t get so distracted that no one gets dinner. 😉
*Unless that faith has been squandered, squashed and ruined.