…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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    “But For The Grace Of God”

    “But For The Grace Of God”

    Did you know there are five single-chapter books in the Bible? I found this out, I’m slightly ashamed to say, when, in response to a challenge to read a book of the Bible, I sought out the shortest one. (I have always looked for the easiest way. To be fair, though, I  resolved to read all five to complete the test.)

    If you are curious, allow me to save you the time it would take to look them up. They are: Obidiah, Philemon, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude.

    So, this morning, as I contemplated how to get my time in the Word, I decided to have a look at one of these books, and chose Jude. Some translations will have “headers” to different sections of verse, and Jude started out ominously, “The Warnings of History to the Ungodly.”

    As I read, a cliche came to me and I dug a little further into it. “There, but for the grace of God, go I,” is commonly attributed to John Bradford, a preacher in sixteenth-century England. The supposed occasion for the saying was the sight of convicted criminals going to their execution. The inference I take is that the fate of the wrong-doers was something Bradford had been unconditionally pardoned from; which is to say he believed himself to be deserving of the same punishment, or worse. (If there could be anything worse. If you believe, I think you’d agree there are several things worse than a swift death.)

    (As a side note, the ‘history’ Jude lists are: the post-Exodus destruction by God of some of His people, the angels who followed Lucifer in being thrown down from heaven, and the fates of Sodom and Gomorrah.)

    What research showed, however, is a complete reversal in the saying’s meaning in modern times. Nowadays, we might intone the phrase whenever we see someone who’s experiencing some bad luck or misfortune. The change is as if it were not villains the speaker is observing, just some poor innocents in the wrong place at the wrong time. I assure you, God’s Amazing Grace is not some lottery prize only for those with some winning combination of circumstances. It is a free gift offered to every living person, simply waiting to be received, enjoyed, and employed.

    Do you see? The new interpretation is one of victimhood. “I’ve done nothing to deserve this,” we claim now. Certainly, we are guaranteed storms in this life, and we are unlikely to understand why ‘this’ is happening to us. But “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” “Human” and “perfect” are two words that can not be set together, except when referring to Jesus Christ. Instead, what grace allows is our continuation of this human journey. It is progress, not perfection, we seek. And what we often need is convincing to carry on.

    One source indicated Bradford was paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 15:8-10, in which Paul is explaining why he is the least of the apostles because he persecuted the church in his past, and: 

    :10 God’s kindness made me what I am, and that kindness was not wasted… I worked hard… [but] it was not I who did it, but God’s kindness was with me.

    Jude also states this concept of a divine reprieve, and the opportunity for us to change which it makes possible. We are invited to redouble our efforts to accept His assistance and the sacrifice which provides the ultimate for us, and to:

    :20-21 …use your most holy faith to grow. Pray with the Holy Spirit’s help. Remain in God’s love as you look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you eternal life. (GW translation)

    I really like the sense of urgency the AMP version gives to this:

    …waiting anxiously and looking forward to the mercy of our Lord…

    “Anxious for mercy.” The Grace of God. It’s not about my fortunes or rich circumstances, but about a constant acknowledgement of my real blessing in receiving the ultimate in undeserved favor. The greatest gift. So, maybe it is like winning the lottery, after all.

    By the way, as for John Bradford, he was burned at the stake in 1555.

    Bought For The Boughs

    Here’s a visual for Lord of The Nerds fans: imagine you’re half-sized and perched on one of the countless boughs of an infinite Treebeard. You’re seeing the world from on high; so different a view it is! You feel the breeze on your face, ruffling your hair and rustling the green leaves. You cling tightly to your seat as it sways, back and forth, its owner taking great strides. You smell earthiness – creation. You notice close by, all your loved ones (equally proportioned), and just a bit further away are even more halflings sitting among the leafy branches. You hear all their voices as a buzzing chorus or, if you focus, individually. Over all is the soft, rumbly voice of the great Ent, Himself, and you all converse, with you saying brave things like, “The closer we are to danger, the farther we are from harm;” and “Take us south.”

    This is the picture this morning’s Tw/G (time with God) has conjured for me. God is like a universal tree, and we are tiny beings raised to sit among His limbs, talking merrily with fellow believers, and praying that He listen to our requests to head toward the battle in the hopes of rescuing even more Hobbits and friends. There are two important messages growing from this imagery.

    One is the price of the ticket to this ride. It’s been paid for, in full, by the mighty Vine. All we need do is raise our arms, like a toddler asking to be picked up. We are bought for the boughs.

    The other is that any who wish for the light are welcome, and are equally positioned, blessed to be cargo in this canopy. And all are equally concerned with the fate of those still aground. We are trying to

    …count others more significant than yourselves…
    Philippians 2:3

    “Getting humble is recognizing all people as the careful works of God, equally worthy of love and sacrifice.”
    WiRE devotional “Gotta Get Humble”

    “It’s still all about me – I’m not being able to ‘focus’ on helping others – too much… ‘work’ and ‘business’…”
    My journal, 2008

    Is humility an intentional thing? Certainly! At least, at first it is. It can be a learned behavior, practiced until it becomes habit, done without a second thought.

    “Humility is NOT thinking less of oneself, but thinking of oneself less [often].”
    Cliche

    WiRE suggests these things to do:

    • Initiate a conversation and listen more than I talk
    • Serve in a way that’s mundane or difficult, (even unpleasant)
    • Help anonymously
    • Give someone the credit they deserve, even if I deserve some, too

    I have seen people consciously do these things for me, and it encourages me to try and not be the one just being heard, or being served, or given the credit. “I know I still make mistakes,” (name that song), and I make them when I am still the focus of my own thinking. And I pray, asking God to ‘Take me south.’