It Was Never About YOU

I was sitting in the waiting room at the tire shop while my car was being serviced and I was mulling over my current list of worries.  I picked up my phone to check in on Twitter and the first post that caught my eye was “Don’t worry, God is in control.”  I laughed because God knows what a knucklehead I am and He knows I need a pretty clear sign in order to get the message.  Just then an older gentleman sat down next to me and began reading the newspaper.  We talked about the headline, which was political in nature.  He said, “I worry about our country and then I have to remind myself that God is in control.”  Wow.  The Lord isn’t wasting any time today, I thought.  He’s making sure I hear Him.  And it was just the message I needed of course.  God IS in control, which must also mean that I am NOT in control.  It’s this last bit that I have the most trouble with.  Over and over again, throughout the years, when I find myself in trouble it’s because I’ve tried to work things out on my own, without allowing Christ to take the lead.
The Christian life isn’t about partnership, it’s about discipleship.  Christ doesn’t ask me to walk with Him.  He asks me to follow Him.  Pride is the deadly sin in which we believe we are self-sufficient.  It’s the sin of our modern age, in many ways.  Our culture teaches us that we have to love ourselves, to believe in ourselves, to be self-reliant.  We’re told that everything we need for life is inside us, we just have to nourish the god within and imagine all our dreams coming true…and they will.  It’s what I call “the church of Oprah” and its sacred texts are in the “self-help” and “new age” sections of the local bookstore and almost everywhere you look online.  We’ve forgotten that we were born into sin.  Heck, we don’t even talk about sin anymore, do we?  Much less things like redemption or salvation, or, sadly, grace.  We’ve forgotten the language of Jesus.  His language is that of love.  But not the love of self.  He calls us to love one another, to do good to those who harm us, to forgive when we are sinned against, even to lay down our own life for that of a friend.  He doesn’t tell us that life will be easy or carefree or full of wealth and happiness.  His parables teach us about faithfulness and honesty and the kingdom of heaven.  By giving ourselves completely to Christ and by following Him every day we can hope for eternal life with Him.  By His grace, we are saved from the torture of hell, which we deserve.  We can’t earn our salvation.  We can’t work ourselves into sainthood.  God loves us and made us for Himself.  He loves each one of us as His own children and longs for a deeply-intimate relationship with us.
This relationship involves a yoke and a Cross.  At first blush, it’s not the most enticing imagery.  A yoke reminds us of the drudgery of hard work, of being tied down and harnessed to a heavy load.  And the Cross is where our Savior died—the most cruel death that Rome could imagine.  And yet when we embrace the Cross and put on the yoke of Christ, we experience the true freedom which only God can give us.  It’s the freedom to become the best version of ourselves, to fully realize the dignity of our creation and the price God was willing to pay for our joy.  When we live our life in Christ, His grace gives us strength to live a life open to God’s plan for us, which is always more than we can imagine for ourselves.  “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness”  (II Corinthians 12:9).  The Creator of the universe wants to make His home in our weak and broken hearts.  Jesus wants to take on all your troubles and worries, all your suffering and pain.  Prayer is the doorway to begin and to sustain this intimacy with God.  We are drawn ever more deeply into His life through the Sacraments of His Church.  Day by day He will transform us into Himself.  This is something I need reminding of every day without fail. Thankfully, God always finds a way to make me listen to Him.  Even at the tire store.  
“I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”  —Philippians 4:13

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