Playing God

My mother was a perfectionist. I remember taking my coloring book to her to show her my latest work. She said, “Oh, honey, that’s very good! I like the colors you used. And, if you had stayed inside line right there,” (pointing) “it would have been just perfect.”.

The funny part was, I was never disappointed. After all, she really liked what I had done. So I’d go color another picture – being very careful to make it, …“perfect”.

I became a Scout. Three years a Cub Scout. Three more as a Boy Scout. And, three more as an Explorer Scout. By the way, the Boy Scout motto is, “Be Prepared”. That was 9-years of “preparation”!

Later in life, I became an Air Force pilot. An occupation that left little room for mistakes and/or failures to plan. (A significant number of military aircraft are very unforgiving of mistakes!)

I became an Emergency War Order Planning Officer. We wrote the plans to implement the missions our Wing was assigned to fly if we went to (nuclear) war. We also wrote plans for deployments and emergency movements. After writing the plans, we would pour over our work doing “what-ifs”. Every sortie had a mission – and, a priority. “What if, sortie 3 doesn’t get started? Which sortie do we divert to take it’s place? What’s the ripple effect from that decision?” On, and on, and, …on.

I tell you this so you can see how I became something of a perfectionist, and a person who is always looking for the “potential point of failure, etc)”. I also want to share with you that this will affect your personal life; and more importantly, your walk with Christ

I can drive my wife to distraction with questions and what-ifs. She sometimes accuses me of negativity. I take umbrage, and tell her I just, “…want to be ready in case things go cross-wise”. She informs me our marriage is going to go cross-wise if I don’t let up. (But, she smiles when she says it.)

So here I am, constantly looking for potential problems or flaws in my plans: and the plans of others – when they involve my family or me . When I find flaws (or even just potential flaws) I start working to assure that I have the answers, solutions, explanations or whatever else may be required, instantly ready to be applied, when/if needed.

And that kind of thinking, folks, is bogus and sinful on many levels. It is also dangerous thinking. It gives Satan a foothold in my life – which I want to avoid like the plague. It’s a source of stress – which I don’t need. Sometimes it builds ego – which I don’t need. It causes friction within my marriage, and in relationships with family and friends – which, I certainly don’t need, or intend. But, most importantly, it is damaging to my relationship with Christ.

Have you ever thought about this? From the beginning of our life here on earth, (this applies to everyone), God knows our entire story. Everything! Nothing is hidden! Why is this important? Because regardless of everything else, God already has, or is going to offer you both adoption and eternal life. “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” [Eph 1:5, NLT]

I must tell you that it is not an open ended offer. It is good only until Christ returns to earth – or, we reach our departure date and time. Whichever happens, we will be “sifted”. Christians will join the family in Heaven. Non Christians won’t.*

So God, who is omniscient – meaning: having infinite awareness, understanding and insight; and, omnipotent – meaning: having unlimited power, force and authority, …actually made a considered choice to include me if I would subjugate my freewill, and trust in Jesus. I did!

In all honesty I’m telling you, I have a problem – of sorts. I find myself trying to play god! Not only that, I’m trying to play god while God knows, and, I should know, all that talk about trying to be perfect and having all the correct answers is so much, …fertilizer. Yet I turn my back on him to pursue my own plans. Now, …How. Dumb. Is. That?!

Then why did I say, “a problem – of sorts”? Because, I really do know exactly how to fix this Problem.

My planning for solutions to the unexpected – in an unknown future, is a oxymoron. It is also worry, arrogance, and foolishness! It is also Satan using me to take a jab at God. And, it’s time to repent; and, ask Jesus for forgiveness. It’s not that I’ve lost my salvation. I haven’t. But, I am sinning, and I need to stop. And to stop I need help. Supernatural help. And I need to apologize to my best friend.

Might there be consequences from the plans I’ve already set in motion? Absolutely! I’ll get what I’ve earned. And, both the good (if any) and bad consequences (much more likely) will be “good”. Good, like when even a blind pig occasionally finds an acorn. And, the “unfavorable consequences” will be the lessons I need to internalize so that I don’t keep repeating my stupidity. I know God will help me. He chose me; and adopted me. He not only has a plan for my life; but, tells me time and again that He will never forget nor forsake me; that He has my back; and, wants only the best outcomes for me. He is slowly but surely perfecting me. But, because I live on planet earth, total perfection won’t occur during my lifetime. There is nothing perfect on earth, …yet.

Prayer:

Father, (Abba),

I can’t even begin to fathom your love for me. But, I do understand it well enough to know that when I come to you, broken and contrite, you never fail to set with me, brush away my tears, listen to my pleadings, and hug me close. Oh, how I thank you for those times.

Lord, you have blessed me greatly — far beyond my dreams. Yet I some- times get impatient or discouraged when dreams, plans, or prayers, seem to have gone astray. At these times, will you please remind me of all the times you have answered, …and all the times I have not even noticed or acknowledged your provision, …and it’s perfection.

Lord, please continue teaching me to rely on your love and grace. Forgive my egotism and conceit. Please help me to restore the relationships my pride and conceit have damaged. Show me the truth of your words; and make my testimony effective when talking with others in their times of need.

Lord I know you are still on the job and in control. Your provision has never failed me. I will praise your name forever. Amen.

Larry

* The straight truth is: 1. God loves his creation of man (and woman) more than any other. 2. When Adam and Eve sinned (by doing the only thing God told them not to do), they (not only) brought sin, separation from God and eventual death, into their own selves (body and soul), they also introduced it to the entire planet and all future generations. 3. God is Holy and cannot abide sin—in any form or amount. 4. But God is also love, …and grace. And so, from his great love and grace, God came up with a plan that could save mankind from eternal death. 5. For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. [Jn. 3:16, NLT]

All we need do is: accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God. The only one who can forgive and cleanse our sins when we repent of them and ask for forgiveness. When we do that, we become Christians. The Holy Spirit moves into us; and will reside in us while we live our lives on earth. And then, let’s not forget that we will have a perfected body and soul while living an eternal life in the presence of God.

If you don’t take that simple step; or, you intend to – but just don’t get it done; or, you go through the motions thinking you can “fake it” and continue living your previous “good times” life; …PEASE believe me! You are doomed to eternity in Hell. Period!** A place were there is NO good thing. Not one!

Christ is offering you a new life. A “do over” of immense proportion. Jesus will be your guide. You won’t become magically perfect. But you will change. And God promises you will change far beyond your expectations; if, you give him the reins.

** God is Just. Children, too young to understand God’s plan, will not go to Hell. There will be children in heaven.

The bible tells us that we are born with the ability to know and search for God. As we find new cultures on earth, we have never found even one that did not have a god or gods; and, codes of “right” and “wrong”. The Bible also tells us in the Old Testament – before God sent Jesus to earth (as the only possible sacrifice for our sins) many people “found favor” with God.

So, I believe those who have never had the “Good News” of the New Testament explained to them will still be judged by God. And, those in whom He “finds favor” will go to heaven. But only God knows those “requirements”. I believe the great “I AM” will make “perfectly correct decisions”.

 

As a New Christian… What Do I Do?

Think about it.  After I accepted Jesus as my Savior I found myself wondering, “…now what?”  I mean, I was excited, but …in what direction?  At that time, and in the church I was going to, there was not really any discipling.  It was kind of, “O.K., we got his name in the book.  Who’s next!”

So, what is the “new Christian” supposed to… well, do?  I had a pretty good idea of what I wasn’t supposed to do.  You know;  all those, “Thou shalt not-s…” that you’re familiar with.  Problem is, that’s hard to just shut off, and so I then began to wonder if my salvation had “taken”.  And, the worst part was I didn’t have any one to talk to about it.

So, let me give you a few tips I’ve learned over a lot of years, a lot of trials, and in general a lot of stumbling around.

When we accept Jesus we invite Him into our lives.  What does that mean? Well it means, for one thing we literally get the Holy Spirit as a resident in our body.  It also means, that we are committing ourselves to not just following Jesus, but also working to become more like Him – one day at a time, every day.  And the key word here is “working”.  We are all works in process.

Now, in the interest of helping others avoid perhaps the biggest mistake I’ve made in my life, let me start with something that took me a long time to learn.  Tip one:

To become more like Jesus you have to get to know Jesus. 

Most folks will say you do that by reading the Bible.  I disagree.*  The Bible will tell you a lot about Jesus.  And that’s both good and necessary.  But, the goal is not to just know about Jesus; our goal is to know Jesus.

Here’s what I mean.  Let’s say you make a new acquaintance.  You decide you’d like to know this person better,  perhaps even become good friends.  How would you go about this?  I presume you would arrange to spend time with this person, during which you would communicate.  You would talk, they would listen.  They would talk, you would listen. And chances are very good that the more time you spend together, and the more talking back and forth you do, the more you’ll come to know one another.  And, even though you may learn that you come from very different backgrounds; you might also, find a bond developing… a true friendship.

Now, let me remind you of something that should totally blow your mind. The Great and Awesome God – the Creator of space, the universe and time – wants to have conversations with you!  You were created for that very purpose.  So, talk to Him, then listen for His answers.  Oh yes, He will answer.  Maybe directly – but, maybe not.  Read your Bible, and be ready for God to speak to you through what you’re reading.  And, be aware that God will sometimes speak to you through other people.  It may be soon; or, it could be later… sometimes much later.  Wait for it.  Again, it’s a process.  You will get better at hearing God the more the two of you communicate.

You may feel silly at first.  That’s perfectly acceptable.  God understands.  Just tell Him how you feel, and what your thinking. Tell Him that you want to hear from Him.  That you want a relationship with Him.  Tell Him you know He wrote the book on you, and you want to start living your life according to His script. (O.K., I get it.  That’s scary.  But, consider this.  God created you.  He knows you.  He accepted you as you were.  He loves you.  And, He wants only what is absolutely the best for you.  If you live your life according to His plan for you, the rest of the world had better just stand back; because I can guarantee you, it is going to be very interesting (not always easy, mind you) but, it will be one awesome life.  Period.

Tip two.  Remember God created and still creates truth, beauty and goodness. Since God creates truth, beauty, and goodness; and, since we are to pattern our lives after Him, we pursue these things. No, I don’t expect you to create another universe.  But, we can create beautiful things.  We can design things, build things, work on projects, compose, paint, dance, sing, play music, teach, form positive relationships, restore broken relationships, help others… well, I hope you get the idea. 

Satan works against God.  Evil, pain, sickness, immorality, depravity, etc. do NOT come from God; and, we must fight against them.  When we see broken-ness, we need to work to repair it.  For instance, we were assigned (by God) to be stewards (caretakers/guardians) of the planet and all life on the planet.  So cleaning up our oceans, the air, restoring habitat for animals, recycling, etc. would all fall into that assignment.  Helping other people?  Of course.  On a personal level, forgiving people who have wronged us, is a pretty good way to move forward in our walk with Jesus.  The point here is, if it’s not of God, we need to fight against it.  AND REMEMBER, take your best friend with you – right from the start.  (I’m talking about Jesus, here.). Doing battle with Satan is not easy.  For starters, he doesn’t fight fair.  He’s sneaky, slimy, the master of lies, disguise, and deceit.  You will need Jesus for these battles. Trying to do it on your own, is dangerous.  The good news is, Jesus is on your side and that dramatically changes the odds.

My third tip is:  Don’t get hung-up on that last paragraph. Concentrate on the one before it.  The one about pursuing goodness, truth and beauty.  After all, even when fighting Satan – that’s how you do it.  Everyday, make it a point to make someone smile.  Do that good deed.  Go that extra mile for someone or something.  Ask God to make you aware of opportunities to serve others… and, by extension, Him.  Then keep your eyes and ears open.  You’ll be amazed at what you see and hear!  Look for God in what we call “coincidence”.  I bet you’ll decide true coincidences are at least quite rare… and, just maybe, nonexistent. 

My last tip.  Read and commit your life to what you find in Matthew 22:36-40.  Jesus made it simple and clear.  Don’t let your ‘religion’ cloud your vision.  Jesus went to the Temple; but, He didn’t hang out there.  He was too busy encountering the people who needed Him… where they lived.  Today, He still does.

⃰   Let’s get back to that reading the Bible thing.  It’s good, even important, to also know about Jesus.  (I just think prayer is more important in a new Christian’s life than anything else.)  That said, you do need to read the Bible.  Reading the Bible will teach you more about more subjects than you can possibly imagine at this time.  You will also find Jesus speaking to you through what you are reading. Prayer and reading the Bible are mutually supportive (symbiotic even?) of/with one another; and a beautiful example of how God’s very presence is everywhere… if you’re looking and listening.