Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Against or Beyond

It hit me last night as I was falling asleep: these have been a rough few days.

I didn't really notice it at the time. I was just living, pushing through, doing what needed to be done. I feel like I've been really disciplined, focused, and productive in the past several days, though to acknowledge, a few of them have indeed been rough.

I've had tremendous energy. There's been nothing that could stand in the way of me and what I was doing; I really felt like I've been tapping into the way God's wanted me to live. So I didn't have time to consider any of the piddly little stuff. Maybe that's why it took me by surprise last night when I just felt wiped...and when I realized how little mind I'd paid to those things that would have slowed me down this week.

Wiped..and oddly, content.

See, I don't subscribe to the belief that wiped has to be a bad thing. I think there's a tremendous difference between the wonderful exhaustion of gettin' it done and the burnout of going too far. One is blessed; the other, burdensome. One keeps you going; the other, tears you down.

I like to stay in the "wonderful exhaustion," "gettin' it done" zone.

But as I was contemplating all of this last night, I remembered a few words I had written in my idea journal. It's the place I keep my quips and one-liners, thoughts that God randomly inserts into my mundane moments. I write them so that I can go back when I need inspiration or when I'm looking for a way to inspire.

A few weeks ago, I had written something about grace. Something about the difference between the grace that stands in the face of adversity and the grace that doesn't even notice the adversity that is there.

I think there's a huge difference. And it's about what comes first.

In the grace that stands against adversity, what comes first is the trouble. We might phrase it like this: In spite of my (cancer, poverty, loneliness, despair), I choose to live a graceful life.

In the grace that stands beyond adversity, what comes first is grace. We might phrase it like this: I'm living a graceful life, though (cancer, poverty, loneliness, despair) would like to have its shot at me.

See the difference? In the first, we define ourselves by our trouble; in the second, by our grace. Which is God's grace. Because in our own power, we have little grace at all and certainly not the measure of grace that would stand beyond adversity.

We are always told to put God first in our lives, and this is why: whatever comes first defines you. Whatever comes first is the foundation of who you are, of how you live, of how you love. It is primary. It is what you believe is most true about yourself.

When anything but God comes first in our lives, what we are saying is that He's standing against what we are, what is most true about us. We are saying we are defined by something else. We might say: I am (an author, an aunt, a minister, a jobseeker) with (hopes, fears, dreams) about (life, love, happiness, security), but I am God's, and He will take care of me.

If you really believe He would take care of you, you would put Him first. And instead, you would say:

I am God's, and He will take care of me. So I embrace my role as (author, aunt, minister, jobseeker) with (hopes, fears, dreams) about (life, love, happiness, security) because I am confident in His love.

Is God first in your life or are you letting some other standard define you? How might life look different if you stood in God beyond any other measure and not against it?

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