“Accept” Is An Action Word

God,
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change.

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I used to think life was me against the world. Back then, I had absolutely no idea how to deal with things I had no control over – nor did I even realize how little I actually could manage. I spent most of my time intentionally looking any other way, trying to see only what I wanted, and making big, dreamy plans. Problem was, I never got around to putting them in motion because my delusion convinced me everything was just fine.

My fondness for “Role Playing Games (RPG)” is a perfect example of this. These are basically alternate reality adventures in which I play the totally customizable main character, every attempt has unlimited do-overs easily handled with a mouse-click from the comfort of my favorite chair, and every virtual step contributes to a sense of great accomplishment. If you can picture that, you know there’s not a lot of real action taking place.

272So, when I finally did awaken -and it was mostly a dawning of spiritual awareness – one of the very first things I learned was this concept of “accepting”. Accepting my circumstances in a black-and-white sort of way; accepting my limitations in abilities – for example, I don’t have a great singing voice which doesn’t mean I shouldn’t make my joyful noise, but it is definitely a drawback to being a rockstar; accepting “as Jesus did, the world, this sinful world, as it is, not as I would have it.”

18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.
1 Corinthians 12 (NIRV)

084The challenge, of course, was the “unfairness” of being cast in what I saw as a less-than-glamorous role. The key in my attitude change was beginning to understand that the lack of importance of my part in God’s eyes is a false impression – a lie from the enemy.

I’m reminded of my Dad, a music teacher, who worked summers on local youth drama productions. When we were kids, we got bit parts – kind of by default, because we tagged along with him and my mom sewed the costumes. I remember I even had a line to say once in The King and I. It was a big deal to me and my parents, even if it wasn’t vital to the plotline or the success of the play.

315God, my heavenly Father, has cast every one of his children in the same way. I might not be a big player on any the world’s most popular stages, but, in God’s story in my life, mine is a very necessary subplot and it just might be that sharing it will have a major impact for someone.

That’s what the verse Colossians 3:23 talks about:

In all the work you are doing, work the best you can [do it heart and soul; from the soul]. Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people.
EXB

I became aware of why I was and found the motivation to give it my all when I found out how God felt about me. He created me, exactly as He wanted and needed. And if my part is that important to Him, I want to accept it so fully that it exists at the very center of my being.

My life has been an incredible, exciting, interesting drama and comedy and action adventure. I really don’t know what my Father has in store for me next, but I rest in His promise that all will be good and ultimately have the happiest of endings.

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The Serenity To Accept… The Bad AND The Good

My plate is unique. God has prepared my life to be like none other. And it’s been a great big bowl of both the tasty and the nasty. But often times, I really can’t tell which is which. That is, I honestly don’t know which bites I like, and which I don’t.

These past two years, it’s been my health that’s “suffered”. I put that in quotes because I don’t feel it personally. It’s almost as if I am telling you about what happened to someone else. Because throughout it all, I’ve never felt in danger. Instead, I have been “made ready” for whatever God has planned next. Life or death. Productivity or rest. Reclaiming joy even out of pain. I believe He has fully granted me The Serenity To Accept.

Do you know The Serenity Prayer?

God
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not 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, 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
(Reinhold Neibur)

One thing I can say is that I have lived out and from this prayer these past few years.

Kidney failure, and ongoing sessions of dialysis, 4-hours at a time, 3 days a week.
Open-heart surgery, a full month of hospitalization and a year at home during recovery.
Three bouts of diverticulitis, followed by an abscess and surgery to remove a section of my colon.
And, most recently, hospital admittance for unexplained intestinal bleeding.
These are the realities, the facts, of being me.

I’ve had a lot to accept, but God has used these events to develop in me patience and peacefulness. You see, all these “bad” things have had their benefits – the biggest of which is the time I now have to write this blog and Share God’s Story in my life. Despite all, I am more than reasonably happy. In fact, I’ve rarely been happier. (My happiest moments are from my immediate family, also given from God.)

This is the way God works. His way, not mine. He brings us to where we want but not by the road we planned for ourselves. Oh, believe me – I tried going my way, for many, many years. I sought to please myself, only and all ways. That path of insanity led me straight into His arms, eight years ago, when I tired of trying, unable to quench the thirst to fill my empty self, realizing at last that lust can cruelly never be sated. I sought my end. Only then was I ready for His purpose. And He taught me first about recovering from my bad choices and habits.

And this prepared me to weather the trauma that I didn’t choose.

Come near to God, and He will come near to you.
You are sinners, so clean sin out of your lives.
You are trying to follow God and the world at the same time.
Make your thinking pure.
James 4:8 ERV

This is one of the most important verses in my recent life. Four simple statements. Basic instructions to follow to be changed, to be healed. Sentences that imply deceptively hard problems with one amazing and easy solution: Almighty God.

Farness from God – I’ve learned to spend significant time getting close to my Creator, the one who is all that is unseen.
Sin – I’ve learned to see not just what is unhealthy for me, but why it is irrefutably so. And I’ve received unseen help in removing it from my living.
Choosing God or the world – there is no other choice, and there can be only one (despite the other) or the (ultimately empty and meaningless) other.
It starts with my thoughts – What I think leads to what I feel, and whether I am then able to do anything at all.

:2 … You don’t get what you want because you don’t ask God.
:3 Or, when you ask, you don’t receive anything, because the reason you ask is wrong.
You only want to use it for your own pleasure.

At the heart of life is acceptance of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for me, acknowledging my guilt but moving beyond it. Taking that clean slate, that thousandth second chance, and grabbing that helping hand to get back to my feet, and keep going forward.

Life is not for my own pleasure. Joy is best when it is shared. This is the meaning behind giving of oneself. I have been blessed with a great bounty – not of the usual worldly resources, but of time and experiences. And I have been given the opportunity to share these joyful, hope-filled moments with you. May God use them to encourage you.

Yes, my life is unique. And so is yours.