(Book begins with the Preface in the January 31 post.)
“A servant of God has but one Master.”
If God is in charge and hasn’t designed us for the trapeze, we need to learn to walk the tightrope he did design us for. So what are God’s beginning tightrope lessons for us?
Lessons from the Master
1. Remember we are not God. Not very profound, but we often forget it. And we will never make any progress without accepting that, for all the lessons that follow come out of it. He is the only omniscient, omnipotent being in the universe.
Years ago, when the New Age movement was at its height, my husband had a T-shirt that read, “Even in this new age the truth is crystal clear: 1) There is a god. 2) You’re not him.” Unfortunately, it is a truth I need to make my mantra. How easily I forget that God is God and I am not. On this side of heaven, I will never fully understand our world or the Scriptures. Never will I be able to accomplish every task my eyes see that needs to be done. It is a job only God can complete.
When we recognize we are not God, we can relax and accept being ordinary. As I once heard Christian psychologist Diane Landberg say, “You do not need to be extraordinary; you need only be ordinary people inhabited by an extraordinary God.” Rejoice in the fact that you are not God, and allow him to work through you.
2. Live with the mystery. We need to grasp that our creature-sized brains will never be able to harmonize every Bible passage into one magic plan to govern our priorities. That’s the Author’s job.
Realizing that I am not expected to work every Scripture into a cohesive agenda for my life has been an important step toward discovering guilt-free living. There will always be passages I don’t understand. Or worse yet, passages that seem perfectly clear and rather dogmatic and yet at odds with so much else in Scripture or with my life.
If I am going to find my balance, am going to walk the tightrope, I have to trust in God’s ability to reconcile seemingly irreconcilable ideas. I need to stop swinging back and forth on the trapeze, let go of the extremes. If I truly walk with God, his peace guides me. He illuminates the Word as it applies to my life.
3. Don’t allow others to determine our priorities. While others sincerely believe their interpretation of God’s biblical priorities, their answers may not apply to our lives (nor ours to theirs). God has not called us to determine other people’s place in his plan. When we let others dictate our priorities we will likely miss God’s. He speaks in a much softer voice.
After the resurrection, Jesus met a few of his disciples by a lake for a fish-fry breakfast (John 21:1–23). He took some special time alone with Peter, time to teach Peter what his purpose would be in God’s kingdom. Jesus gave Peter his mission. In fact, Jesus repeated it three times so he wouldn’t miss it. “Feed my sheep. Take care of my sheep. Feed my sheep.” Each time the instruction was preceded by the question, “Do you love me?” Jesus wanted Peter to understand that his relationship with Jesus, his love for him, enabled a special, God-designed mission. Jesus ended by saying, “Follow me.”
Unfortunately, Peter was distracted. Rather than concentrating on his own mission from God, his mind was elsewhere. He started looking at John, wondering what John would be given to do, and interrupted Jesus’ instruction to ask, “Lord, what about him?”
So often, that’s how I respond to God. I want to know his will for those around me. I want us all to have the same purpose, the same responsibilities. “Many hands make light work,” my mom always said, and I want everyone’s hands in the same dishwater as mine. I don’t want to be required to make sacrifices that my friends don’t have to. I want us all to live the same way, all walking the wide path arm in arm. It would make life so much easier.
But that is not God’s way. There is not room on my tightrope for all of us. Only for my Lord and me. And so the Lord answers me as he did Peter, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22). “Stop worrying about my plan, my mission, for other people,” Jesus seems to whisper. “Stop trying to drag everyone along on the journey I planned for you.” I am only responsible to find my calling before God. And once certain of my calling, I can encourage others to find theirs.
In order to walk in the path God sets for me, I have to stop holding on to the opinions of others. I needed to find God’s priorities for me, not for my church, my friends, or even my husband, and certainly not for the church at large. I am responsible for finding my place, not for putting others in theirs.