Better Than Life

gift4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,
1 Peter 1:4 (NIV)

God surprises.

That’s it; today’s message. Human imagination simply can not dream big enough to give a picture of what God can do, of how he will choose to provide.

My situation is case in point. What he has brought my life to be is so far beyond what I expected or even hoped for as to be Better Than Life, itself. And isn’t that more exciting?

My life could have turned out exactly as I wanted in many, many ways. But, instead, God has redirected my plans to be something far more interesting, even though at times it was far less enjoyable.

It’s like the difference between watching a movie which I’ve seen a hundred times before – to the point where I know all the lines – and seeing a well-made blockbuster for the very first time. And, really, I think living through that is far more fulfilling that having every plan fall perfectly into place.

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grace-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike, “What’s next, Papa?”
Romans 8:15 MSG

What might be surprising is that the entirety of my life has been like this; I just wasn’t always so accepting of it. Memory suggests that I have been making plans since I could first think out cause and effect, but, when they failed to come true, I fought back with anger and disappointment. This attitude didn’t change any facts, it just made me unhappy. I would then retreat into an imaginary reality, where I was in control. Of course, when I woke up, real life was waiting for me, and the cycle would repeat.

The when everything changed was only at my surrender of all my ideas, specifically with my confession of all my secrets. Not coincidentally, this was the point of my biggest fear. All my life up until that time I had been in dread of what would happen if I told all. Condemnation and extreme punishment surely would come, I reasoned.

But what happened was so far from that, I simply can’t explain it with words. I think that’s probably why worship songs are so important to me. Music can go beyond thoughts and convey feelings. And miraculous is a feeling.

Because your love is better than life,
My lips will glorify you.
Psalm 63:3

For he who finds me finds life
And obtains favor from the Lord
Proverbs 8:35

God surprises. And I have learned from experience to trust his ways. I believe he has what’s best for me planned – even though that will include my passing from this world. None of it is a bad thing. All of it requires a hard-learned trust.

Better Than Life
Hillsong Live

Better than the riches of this world
Better than the sound of my friend’s voices
Better than the biggest dreams of my heart
And that’s just the start

Better than getting what I say I need
Better than living the life that I want to
Better than the love anyone could give
Your love is

You hold me now in Your arms
And never let me go

You, oh Lord, make the sun shine
And the moon light in the night sky
You give me breath and all Your love
I give my heart to You because

I can’t stop falling in love with You
I’ll never stop falling in love with You

Better Than Life

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The Full Serenity Prayer

Do you know the whole Serenity Prayer? Many have heard it – its first three lines have been said at every recovery meeting I’ve ever been to – but I didn’t know there was more to it until I was well down my road of transformation.

It’s not from the Bible, or any Scripture. The prayer was written in the 1930s by Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), an American theologian and author (and political commentator!).

The full prayer is a wonderful, complete guide to a life of spiritual discipline and formation. Here’s the prayer as we say it at Celebrate Recovery Twelve-Step meetings:

God,
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference

Living one day at a time
Enjoying one moment at a time
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is
And not as I would have it
Trusting that You will make all things right
If I surrender to Your will
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with You forever in the next
Amen

There have been many books written about the Serenity Prayer. One of the most influential and life-changing that I read early in my recovery is Twenty-Five Words: How The Serenity Prayer Can Save Your Life by Barb Rogers.

As a journaler whose life has been miraculously saved, I constantly refer to sections of the prayer in my writing. I thought it would be a good thing to have the full version available.