Tuesday, March 4, 2008


I am not depressed! Though this post seems a bit depressing. This experiment is really pushing me. I have come to realize that I hold to a belief system where you think that your main goal in life is to move from difficult to easy. This is the appeal of retirement and the American dream. Thinking this way, your goal is to get your life in some manageable order and then work the system. Continual working of the system will, according to this line of thinking, lead to a nearly trouble-free life. So, basically, that is our goal: to arrive at a trouble-free life. To encourage ourselves along the way, we envision what our "future" trouble-free life will look like. This is what drives us on. By the way, every person has their own definition of "trouble-free". Mine involves no tension in relationships, debt-free living, finding favor in the eyes of all that are in my life, having a constant sense that what I'm doing is pleasing to God and eating whatever I want and never worrying about my health. I largely accept this without giving it much thought. (Despite the fact it seems so irrational when I write it down.)

When trouble comes, my main prayer is for God to remove the trouble. As I mature, I ask God to strengthen me as I experience the trouble. But the focus is still on getting to the other side of the trouble. Because, remember, the good life is the trouble-free life.

The problem with all this is that hardly anyone in the Bible had a life like this. The Bible doesn't tell us how most of the lives ended. But those we know aren't very favorable. John the Baptist, Stephen, and James...all killed. John, Jeremiah, Daniel...all seemed to die in exile. Noah and David seem to be very lonely as they come to the end of their lives, their "glory years" long faded away. Of course there is Elijah and Enoch who don't die, but that's not something to count on and if we knew it was coming we would be tempted to think that our "time had not yet come".
"But what about Jesus?" You ask, "Yes He experienced terrible suffering and died, but He rose, He was vindicated". Yes, but even as He leaves the earth in His ascension, some of His followers that surround Him are still doubting.

What's my point? The repetitive action of all that we're doing is causing me to reflect and question if I am truly dependent on God or do I count on God only to the degree that He leads to me to a "just end". Though we've worked it out intellectually maybe, James 1:2, does not really fit the way we see the world. Yes, I will consider it pure joy, but only because I expect it to lead to a better life. What happens, when the trial stays with you, for a long time? What if the trial isn't necessarily leading you somewhere else? Wasn't this Paul's basic question? (2 Cor. 12:8-9)

Immanuel means, God with us, and that was one of the major accomplishments of Christ: That God was now "with us" in such a unique way during every situation of our lives. He does have plans to prosper me, but did he not have plans to prosper John the Baptist? I think God has a different definition of prosper. The challenge continues because the more dependent I become on Him, the more I realize that this journey is not leading me to an ever-clarifying understanding of His plan. Don't we sing: Please reveal your will for me so I can serve you for eternity? God's will is not for me to have a defined sense of what's next. God's will for me is for me to be totally dependent on Him and accept His lead in all areas. I will gain wisdom, perseverance, joy, peace, etc., but it will not be because I've figured Him out. It will be because I trust Him in the midst of the suffering and disappointment. Not to lead me out, but to be with me in the middle of it, no matter how long it takes even if it takes the rest of my life.


~Silver Lining~ said...

Wow! I would consider that much more eye-opening than depressing! I never would have known how to word it if I ever realized it, but my goal is to find that "trouble-free life". I mean I do ask Him to let every trial strenghten me and bring me new truths about Him, but I still just want to get to that trouble-free-ness. Your thoughts & revelations are truly going to test my dependence on God on a whole new level as I try to figure out why I depend on HIm. Thanks so much!

F.R.O.G.G.E.R. said...

You have just described so well my outlook on life, and I think you are so right in your conclusions about all of it.
2 Cor. 12:8-9, "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."
This sounds to me like God was telling Paul that He had no intention of taking it away. "That Christ's power may rest on me" sounds like a permanent statement. It seems to me that he's saying we must REMAIN in our weakness (i.e. the trials we face) so that His power may rest on us for all time. That's a really hard thing to accept, but I think that it's at the heart of depending on God: depending on Him, even if it means staying where you are, even when where you are is hard.
Praying for you, brother! He is your strength!

Zack said...

Good job Beastly One! The "American Way" seems so against Christianity. In Hebrews 11 it talks about those who persevered and overcame obstacles to their faith and were victorious in this life and in eternity. But it also tells of those who were killed and that this world wasn't worthy of them, that they weren't victorious in this life. But were victorious in eternity. So much for the trouble free life. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom! God bless!

Anonymous said...

Well, I see how your post is depressing...well at least it made me a little depressed because I hadn't really thought about it and now after reading...well I know I am stuck in the same mind-frame. I am always thinking of "how can we do this or that so that we have our own 'trouble free life'?" How sad that God has had to hear me whine and constantly ask that He bring me to that point when probably that would be the worst place for me to be because I wouldn't be dependent on Him anymore! Thank you for sharing and helping many of the rest of us realize we are there too! Thanks for being who you are!

Melissa Smith

augustine said...

I think this whole thing is going to be like your AIM time. You didn't constantly enjoy it while you were doing it, but in hindsight, it proved incredibly advancing in your walk with Christ.

I really like your evaluations of our society, also. I think the American Dream is an ever-pressing reality that has the potential to really hinder God working through us.