…While I’m Making Other Plans.

…While I’m Making Other Plans.

I know I was destined to write this entry. 😄

The inspiration – a little of it, anyway – was the movie Edge of Tomorrow, which I’ll describe simply as ‘”Ground Hog Day” during wartime,’ so as not to spoil it for you too much. A bigger part of where this post started was my thinking on how to answer the question, “So what do you do?”

The best response is “G.H.R.O. W.I.S.E.R.” This is, of course, an acronym, a handy literary tool that helps me remember stuff. In this case, it’s where I want my focus to be. I’ve determined what’s important after careful deliberation. And that included deciding what I can live without. If you’re curious, the acronym stands for:

God
Health
Relationships
Objects

Writing
Income or Investments
Singing and playing music
Encouraging others
Recreation – that is, an appropriate amount of downtime

You might say GHRO WISER is my mission statement. It’s my list of priorities, the areas of life I want to concentrate on, in some kind of order. Today, however, I’m not writing about the goals I have, but more about the need to have a firm idea on what they are. I’m talking about the act of choosing and planning, and whether it makes a difference in life. Or not. 

So you may have heard the saying, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.” This is basically a consideration of fate vs free will. Which is it? Can life – a Christian life – be both? I think it’s critical to make the following distinction:

Do my choices make any difference?” is one question;

Does God already ‘know’ what I will choose?” is an entirely separate matter. And, it’s the less vital one.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.
Isaiah 55:8

The gist of this verse is, I think, that there are things I can know, and things I may never know. Much of what God has done – and how He does it – falls into the latter category. I want to concentrate on the former and not waste too much time speculating.

What do or can I “know?” Here are three crucial choices:

  1. I can choose some very important stuff, like my attitude and acceptance of circumstances; like getting up when I fall; like asking without shame for help from others and from God; like not worrying about the aforementioned unknowables; like who I live and do for
    Here’s a quote off of inwardquest.com which sums this up nicely:

    “…Instead of our story being … linear… with a set beginning, middle, and end, it is like a ‘choose your own adventure’ book. Each choice you make takes you to a different fate… destiny… future. Who we are is made up of our responses to events in our lives. If we change our responses, we change our future responses, as well.”
    This is the heart of recovery from addictions and compulsive behavior.

  2. I can realize that I do, but God determines the results; if I don’t do, nothing will be different
    This emphasizes the importance of action, of not being “so heavenly-minded as to be of no earthly use.” I love this quote from Ronald Reagan:
    “I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do.
    I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.”

    Remember the definition on insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
  3. I can remember and be aware of the evidence of my past, and that, by far, it has been good
    I’m still alive, and the analogy of a sports team in the post-season is a great one. I like the direction my life is going now, and that has everything to do with living it for and with God.
    Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
    Romans 8:28

To sum up, for me the question of whether I have had any hand in what’s happened to me, past and present, is a definite “Yes!” My choices certainly brought me to rock bottom. I believe I was saved when I finally chose not to force my own decisions on life.

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    Run Like Jonah

    Run Like Jonah

    go to ninevah
    Jonah, however, set out in the opposite direction in order to get away from the Lord.
    Jonah 1:3 GNT

    “What am I doing here?! I don’t belong here! I am certainly not comfortable in this place! I don’t know what to say or how to say it!”

    This was my self-talk last night. My friend and I were leading Celebrate Recovery Worcester (pronounced Wusstah), an inner-city program. The setting can’t be more different than the suburban CRs I attend. But there I was (and wondering why!)

    worcester old
    Worcester MA

    We had a couple of first-timers walk in during the meeting. I had no idea on how to relate to them. Thankfully, my friend could and did, and (to keep a long story short) we just might see them again. But had it been up to me, I fear my awkwardness would have led to nothing. Awkwardness, and fear. Yes, fear.

     

    Even as we sat and talked, I was thinking about Jonah and how he ran the other way – trying to get as far away as possible – when God called him to go to the big city, Ninevah. I am not a city person, and I identify with Jonah’s reluctance because of this. But there I was, led by God’s purpose, and I needed to know (to relearn?) how I could do this.

     

    jonah-map
    Tarshish was in Spain

    First, God places us each where we are for a reason. In hindsight, I can see His perfect timing and how each phase of my journey has prepared me for the next, even when, at the time, it seemed all wrong.

     

    Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him,
    and to which God has called him.
    1 Corinthians 7:17 ESV

    You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…
    John 15:16

    Sometimes God prefers that I’m uncomfortable. As Rick Thomas puts it, “God is calling you to do what you cannot do with the ability that you do not have… because His desire is for you to rely on Him… There will be times when God will accomplish things outside of your abilities.” (rickthomas.net) His power and glory will be on display, not anything of mine.

    Second, Proverbs 3:5-6 says to trust in the Lord and lean not on my own understanding of things. Easier said than done! I often have to reassure myself that I am in full agreement with what God is doing with and through me, even when it is scary. I believe He “has put dreams in our hearts and writes a destiny for our lives. And if we trust Him enough to take Him at His word, we will find ourselves on a journey toward fulfillment of that dream.” (myfaithradio.com) (Of course, my problem is that I tend to try and envision what that fulfillment will look like. I get way ahead of Him!)

    When I am afraid, I will trust in You.
    Psalm 56:3
    (One of the first verses I found and memorized in my recovery.)

    Third. Free will. Sort of. I always have the choice. Or do I? Did Jonah? I am tempted to distract myself; tempted to run like Jonah. “The flesh dies hard and unfortunately for many, they’ve opted to let their dream die before they’d ever allow their flesh to be confronted.” (myfaithradio.com) I remind myself that I choose God and His way. This helps me to really feel 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love.”

    Fourth. Love. Love for others. A desire to see all get the chance that I did, to know the Creator.

    But how will people call on Him in whom they have not believed?
    And how will they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?
    And how will they hear without a messenger?
    Romans 10:14 AMP

    082Finally, what to say? This is an easy one. First, the more I share my testimony – God’s Story in my life – the easier it gets, and the better it’s delivered (I hope). But I remember

    …the Holy Spirit will give you the words to say at the moment you need them…
    Luke 12:12 VOICE

    So, it’s almost like I don’t have to do anything except show up.

    This post is important to me because I know the feeling of wanting unpleasantness “out of sight, out of mind.” I have no ill will toward the least of these. I think it’s more about “ignorance being bliss.” I can pretend to not be aware; to be filled with the direction of my own life and not want(?) to worry about anybody else’s.

    I have a couple of great songs to go with this blog! Two of my very favorites.

    “These Are The Words I Would Say”  is from the Sidewalk Prophets (a great band name!)
    You can download it from my Amazon affiliate link here.

    “I Refuse” is from Josh Wilson, and is one of the first songs I heard in my journey.
    You can download it here.

    1:30AM: When you wake up and… you’re awake

    1:30AM: When you wake up and… you’re awake

    lampHaving faith is like waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep. I know this from experience. I often find myself in the “wee hours,” wide-eyed, and no matter how I try, I simply can not drift away.

    adventureAnd so, sooner or later, out comes the coffee and the journal, and I begin scribbling another blogging adventure. There’s usually some main idea that’s stirred me, maybe based on something that has happened recently (in this case, waking up and not going back to sleep, and wondering how (or if) that relates to my spiritual and tangible life).

    …you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep.
    For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.
    Romans 13:11 ESV

    281This verse states the obvious. Of course, every second I live brings me closer to that time when “He returns or calls me home” (In Christ Alone). But what actually gave me the idea that “believing is like being awake” is that, once I wake up (like this morning), I know I can not fall back asleep, which is just like knowing that, having become a believer, I can never “unbelieve” again. This can be a good or not-so-good feeling, like the memory of something seen that can never be “unseen.” It can be pleasant or gruesome.

    Part of me does not want to forget. Part of me knows I should not ever forget.

    Therefore let us not sleep as others do.
    But let us be alert and sober.
    1 Thessalonians 5:6 MEV

    IMG_3338It’s both the knowledge of God’s grace for me (now) and the promise (or threat?) of what is to come (in the future) that’s behind this need to stay awake. I know because I’ve read God’s Word; I believe because I’ve had personal experience that proves His Word.

    The only debate, I suppose, is whether this belief (God’s forgiveness of sin) is a constant completely conscious choice (based on my knowledge), or whether it is fully a divine gift, an uninstallable “system-upgrade” to fix some behavioral bugs.

    IMG_3346Patient endurance (something we choose) is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will.
    Hebrews 10:36 NLT

    Those who have been born from God (something we’re given) don’t live sinful lives.
    What God has said lives in them. So they can’t live sinful lives.
    1 John 3:9 GW

    The only thing which causes me to lean toward the former is the fact that I eventually, consistently slip and fall (and want to, in the heat of that moment). I really do worry about it all being up to me. You might say the thought is what “keeps me up at night.”

    IMG_3352For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once and for all.
    Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins.
    There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgement…
    Hebrews 10:10,26-27 NLT

    On the other hand, this certainty I feel (about never again being ignorant) is a comfort. I was given something, a gift that cannot be returned or put aside or ever misplaced.

    IMG_3303The two combine for a very practical effect. I wake up. I get up and begin the new day. (Don’t worry, I take a nap around noon and repeat the whole process – 2 days for the price of one!) Likewise, I fall. I get up again and keep moving forward. Once was for all. I have received the knowledge of the truth.

    Til on that cross as Jesus died,
    The wrath of God was satisfied;
    For ev’ry sin on Him was laid-
    Here in the death of Christ I live.

    (In Christ Alone)

    For songs to go with this post, I simply must include In Christ Alone (the Getty version).
    Please download the digital track here.

    But here’s a great hymn in a contemporary style that fits the theme of waking and rising, Arise, My Soul, Arise (the Indelible Grace Unplugged version).
    Please download it here.