Thursday, February 17, 2011

Did You Get What You Want?

As you look back over your life, your friendships, your family, your accomplishments... did you get what you want? For the Christian, we would ask a follow-up question: Did God get what he wants?

In becoming a Christian, in saying "Yes" to God through what Jesus showed and taught and did for us, we are to let that Yes permeate our whole life, all our friendships, everyone in our family, anything we ever accomplish. This all-encompassing Yes is not a burden, but an opportunity to let God get what He wants for us and in us and through us. For Christians, we are learning through Jesus to let God get what He wants. We want the Spirit of Jesus to transform our desires for what we want so that we learn to accept and join God in what he wants.

Some of you have said Yes to God, but your life, your actions, your choices, your decisions, your attitude reveal a big huge No. In observing what you are doing with your life, how you treat your friends, how you care for your family, how you view your accomplishments, it would seem that it all adds up to a No to God. Maybe it's time for you to just go ahead and tell God "No."

I'm biased... I'd rather you say "Yes" to God, but maybe with where you're at in life, you'd be better off honest and unhypocritical and just blurt out the "No" that is characteristic of your life.

Here's how Jesus put it when he was hanging around here:
And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions.

You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, “I’ll pray for you,” and never doing it, or saying “God be with you,” and not meaning it.
You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true.

Just say yes and no. When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.
~Matthew 5v33-35 (The Message)

There's a need for more men and women who will stick to their "Yes", and hold their ground on their "No." It's gotten to the point where most people don't seem believable anymore. Yes doesn't seem to mean Yes anymore, and same for No. Promises are made in the moment, but either without the forethought to perceive the ability to keep it - or without the character to keep it when it gets terribly difficult.

Here's a simple test to reveal where you are at when it comes to Yes and No: do you find yourself over-promising and under-delivering - especially on the little things?
"I'll be home by 6."
"I'll see you on Sunday."
"I'll take care of it."
"I'll give you a call later tomorrow."
"I'll come visit you."
"I'll play with you in a minute."
"I'll pick this up on the way to work."

And so on. And then the little things catch up with us. If you can't be believable in the little things, why would you be believable in the big things?

I'm guilty of over-promising and under-delivering. My believability was eroding. I was greatly frustrated with myself. Why didn't I have the capacity to keep my promises? Why did I commit to a task I didn't really want to do? Why am I so ambivalent to breaking my word? How come I don't value the little tasks of everyday life for my family and friends?

Life is made of moments where you are confronted with reality, and then you get to make a decision. Reading Soren Kierkegaard one morning presented me with that decisive moment. Here's a portion of what I read, of what convicted me about Yes and No, about making and keeping promises.
When you say "Yes" or promise something, you can very easily deceive yourself and others also, as if you had already done what you promised.

It is is easy to think that by making a promise you have at least done part of what you promised to do, as if the promise itself were something of value. Not at all!
In fact, when you do not do what you promise, it is a long way back to the truth.

Beware! The "Yes" of promise keeping is sleep-inducing. An honest "No" possesses much more promise. It can stimulate; repentance may not be far away.

He who says "No," becomes almost afraid of himself. The world is quite inclined - even eager - to make promises, for a promise appears very fine at the moment - it inspires!
Yet for this very reason the eternal is suspicious of promises.

The good intention, the "Yes," taken in vain, the unfulfilled promise leaves a residue of despair, of dejection.

Beware! Good intention can very soon flare up again in more passionate declarations of intention, but only to leave behind ever greater desperation.

As an alcoholic constantly requires stronger and stronger drink, so the one who has fallen under the spell of good intentions and smooth-sounding declaration constantly requires more and more good intentions.

And so he keeps himself from seeing that he is walking backwards.

~ Soren Kierkegaard, Provocations, pgs13-15

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

This is SO relevant, convicting, and inspiring. Talking about it or saying I will is NOT the same as doing it.

Makes me think of Jesus' parable of the son who said he would but didn't, and the one who said he wouldn't but DID.