We are in the midst of difficult times and difficult decisions. Every day we are hearing from the news reports and those we know personally that times are tough and the consensus seems to be that it will get worse before it gets better. The answer? It isn’t politics or government solutions. Even though I am frustrated with how much of our current economic problems are a direct result of our government’s meddling, the reality is that even if our economy was hummin’ along, we would not be free from problems and we would still have storms. Focusing on the current economic crisis is a distraction because the goal isn’t economic prosperity, it is spiritually prosperity.
There are four aspects of the Christian Life that we often focus on in our desire to be a better Christian: Faith, Humility, Love, and Holiness. In church this morning, the pastor speaking suggested that instead of trying to have more faith, be more humble or loving or holy, we instead ought to focus on living what he called a God-Centered Life. He defined it this way:
“A God-Centered Life is a life lived wholehearted for God without any consideration for our own needs.”
A life lived like that would, as a result, increase our faith, require humility, encourage a loving response to those who around us and produce holiness. These would become results of God rather than results of our striving and efforts. And it would produce a life that had the favor of God. Imagine that – a life with the favor of God?! Nothing could be better to gain in all of life. It fit well with my church’s theme verse:
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strongly support those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9
Why do we find it so difficult to step out in faith and live a completely God-Centered Life? He suggests that FEAR is the culprit. We were challenged to consider five Basic Needs that we all seek, that are best described in a key question we ask, and that are motivated by a core fear. There are:
5 Basic Needs / Driving Question / Core Fear
Question: Will I have enough?
Core Fear: Scarcity
Question: Will I be safe?
Core Fear: Pain
Question: Will I be happy
Core Fear: Emptiness
Question: Will I matter?
Core Fear: Worthlessness
Question: Will I belong?
Core Fear: Loneliness
In reviewing each of those I hope I’m not the only one who sees the hidden motivators that interfere with my desire to follow God without hesitation. He made the point that in marriage counseling he often has couples start their first session by saying, “Well, we started out 50/50 but now….” and that is where he cuts them off saying, “Well, that’s the problem. Marriage isn’t 50/50, it is 100/100. If each of you are giving the other 100% effort, focusing entirely on what is best for the other, trusting that the other is doing the same, that is the secret of a healthy marriage.” Well, the same, he pointed out, is true with our walk with God!
We need to give 100% effort toward living a God-Centered Life trusting that God will also give us 100% at the same time and can meet each of those needs, answer each of those questions and calm each of those fears. I love when Truth hits me from several directions. Later today, I was reading the next chapter in The Shack, (blog post on that later after I recover from that book), the opening quote in chapter sixteen was:
An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others. – A. W. Tozer
The Bible passage for the sermon was the story of Jesus walking on the water and inviting Peter out to join him. A familiar story, no doubt, and yet I appreciated a new thought along with the telling this morning. Before Jesus appeared, Peter was focused on the storm and surviving the storm. But after seeing Jesus walking on the water, he desired what Jesus had – power over the storm. We often focus on Peter sinking when he got his focus off of Jesus, as many of us have done, but that also means that for a time, he DID have his focus on Jesus, and while he did, the storm became irrelevant.
I grabbed my Bible and wrote in the front cover, “When in the storm, Jesus invites you out onto the water. Focus on Him and walk toward Him, and the storm will become irrelevant.”
That is my desire as I head into an uncertain 2009. That I would not be focused on the storm and including God in the process, but would be solely focused on God and allowing Him to deal with the storm. In the image above, you see the choice – GOD centered, storm small and off to the side, or STORM centered and God down and off to the side. The choice is ours, every day.
I have no idea what this year will bring, but TODAY I can focus on Jesus and living a God-Centered Life, and I’m aiming to do the same tomorrow as well. Join me in trying to shift my focus away from the storm and toward Jesus.