I used to be good at golf. Now I kinda stink at it. I just haven't practiced it enough for the last few years. I haven't swung the club at the range or gotten out on the course frequently at all. As a result, now, when I do try to play, my drives shank sideways, my chips flub, my knees crack, my wrists sting, and my heart groans in angst.
But I love golf when I can hit a good shot. In fact, one good shot on the course makes the whole fightful experience worth it. When I hit the sweet spot of the ball with the sweet spot of the club, it's like heaven and earth have collided in harmony. The club swoops with a perfect sound, the ball zings through the air – fading in the distance – gently bouncing – then rolling – then resting on the fairway. In those captured seconds of eternity, life is completely good and pleasing and perfect. In that moment is life as it is meant to be lived.
Oh how I wish my life was filled with the perpetual progression of moments like that. If only every hole in life could be so good… and pleasing… and perfect.
Sometimes I feel like I shank the direction of my life. When my life isn't aligned just right, when my swing is a bit off, I miss the ball completely or I hook my direction into the woods or slice it into the pond. We humans can hit some pretty serious shanks concerning the direction of our pursuits. We are constantly filled with indecision about God's will for our lives: What club should I choose (i.e. What should I do?)? Where do I hope to land this (i.e. Where should I be in the future?)? How do I get out of the rough (i.e. I'm stuck in it thick… and I need to hack out of here or else?)? Etc. This happens on job interviews, life transitions, school choices, motivation for study, desire for romance, dreams about kids/house/career/car… How can we know what is going to be good, pleasing and perfect for our lives? …
I suspect that in their more humble moments, John McCain and
Barack Obama wonder what God's will is. I sure hope they do.
Whichever one is elected the President of the U.S…. I pray they will
wonder what God's will is. God's good, pleasing and perfect will. I
want a leader in the U.S. who stands in the assurance that the decision
they make are aligned in the sweet spot of what God's good, pleasing
and perfect will is.
But how can we figure it out? How can we mortals discover the
immortal will of God? How could we ever begin to grasp what God wants
for us. If we could know God's will, and if we could live by it, then
I imagine we'd be living in our sweet spot… that zone of life where
we know we are doing what we've been created to do. I think most of us
have an urge to live with that kind of meaning and purpose… to be
confident and assured that we are fulfilling our reason for being.
I've heard Bill Hybels refer to the desire to live in God's
will as a "holy angst". It's the tension of knowing there must be
something that God has put before us- that God wants us to pour
ouselves into. It's this struggle to grasp that pursuit of life that
we know will be good and pleasing for our lives. At the end of our
time on earth, we want to be able to look back and say that it was
good… don't we? Yes! No one wants to reflect back on their life and
be faced with the fact that they missed doing what God had created them
But how can we figure it out? How can we limited humans embrace the grand will of God for our lives?
I think Romans 12:2 holds the beginning of wisdom for this question.
As we offer our breathing to God, God will begin breathing in us. As
we breathe for and with God (as a living sacrifice – Romans 12:1), we
are pleasing to God. As we conform to God's movement of life within
us, as we are shaped by his desires and passions and aims, then we
transformed in our minds, in our strengths, in our steps and words and
actions and behaviors. When we are living sacrifices for God, there is
no room for us to be conformed to the wandering passions of our world.
When we are mindfully renewed and refocused by God, there is no
opportunity for getting lost in straying thirsts and lusts.
The point for us isn't being a living sacrifice… the point
isn't avoiding the world… the point for us is living in God's will
for us- his good and pleasing and perfect will. We are to be out there practicing and playing and hitting for more and more consistency all the time… Being in that moment of heaven and earth colliding in God's good, pleasing and perfect will.
So I'm praying for you today as you face decisions and pressures and futures… as the flag seems so far away, around bends and over hills and through rough and sand and trees and winds. May you stand up to the tee, live for God, and swing.
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be
transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to
test and approve what God's will is- his good, pleasing and perfect
will." – Romans 12.2
So it is a pursuit of and a desire to that make a transformed heart a reality? at least in the future? I think I like that.
I think it’ll always be beyond our grasp a bit. I think its more of a perpetual awareness and service of God in all things all throughout the day. I don’t think that needs to be theoretical… I think that can be the aim. Impossible completely? Perhaps it is. But the desire to live in such a way is a great one… and the practice of it is a great one.
You know, conforming to the world doesn’t just mean sin. It imply loads of other things that are other than God’s good, pleasing and perfect will for us. The focus is not so much “not conforming” as it is “being transformed” by the renewing of our mind. Being transformed by God is the goal. And I think the pursuit of that goal is the movement of the sacrificial life.
I understand the need to live in such a manner, but I am afraid that I find it to sound very much like a theoretical ideal. How do I conceivably approach life as a living sacrifice? Do I just stop doing things? Do I offer my blood in creepy ways? Do I actually try to breathe God in and out? I am afraid that I am really unsure of what the practical application of this and other such verses is. When called to conform no longer to the ways of the world, I get confused as to what is worldly and what is expected as part of an outreaching lifestyle. As for finding the sweet spot, I couldn’t agree more that we will be most happy, most content and most in pursuit of life itself as it is infused with the power and purpose of God, but how?