I’ve been keeping a personal journal for a few months now. I don’t usually share it with anyone. But today, I felt compelled to share a portion of what I’d written. I hope you get something out of it or it spurs some thoughts in your own life. Let me know in the comments if you like it, and perhaps I’ll share more in the future.
Here is my life verse:
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
I’ve been thinking about this verse differently lately. This verse, while it seems to be the lynchpin of the prosperity gospel being spouted by Joel Osteen and his ilk – is actually probably the opposite. Who are these that have been called according to God’s purpose? First, to understand that, we must understand what God’s purpose is. Is God ‘s purpose for me to make money? Or is God’s purpose for me to help others?
God gave me certain gifts to use. When I am not using those, I may not be helping God’s purpose. God gave me those gifts for a reason. His purpose here, while I won’t say it is crystal clear, is something to think about. Does my love of money get in the way of my happiness? When I really think about it, it’s more security that I crave than money. I want to be happy and not worry. God didn’t put us here for that. I need to find my peace in him. But then I’m conflicted.
If God’s nature is within me, then I need to find my peace from within me. Because God is within me. Prayer can help God empower me to do what I need to do – but I’ve always know I HAVE TO DO IT. I remember a time when my friend Bryan took me to a charasmatic church. Amongst all the people speaking in tongues and fainting – I felt left out. I wanted so badly for God to come to me and for me to have some weird spasm like all these people were having. Then the pastor said something. He said – you have to do it, and then once you start, God will be there. So I tried it. I can’t lie, I did feel something – but I’ve always wondered if it was genuine or just me fooling myself. I’m going to go out and say that it wasn’t genuine. It wasn’t something that changed my life. It was just another experience and one I have no desire to repeat.
Religion is so messed up. There are so many interpretations of the same thing. There’s no way to know exactly who is wrong or right. Maybe God wants it that way. If we are made in God’s image, then we must have some of his divine power within us. That doesn’t mean that we can become God’s ourselves. I flat out refuse to believe that. But I do believe that our lives are partnerships with God – God wants what is best for us. We have to put into action what that is and – if our purpose is aligned with God’s plan, he is there. And all things….thats ALL THINGS work for GOOD.
We’ve all been there, when it just seems that things are going right. For me, it’s all about mindset. If I have the mindset that things are going to be good – and I can shrug off the setbacks – then it usually ends up right.
It’s like when I first started the business and things weren’t going well – I would just tell myself and my partner John – we just keep pushing forward. Somewhere along the way I realized how much I had to lose if things didn’t go well and we started being more conservative. That’s when we stopped growing. We stopped moving forward and just kept looking at what we had and how we could keep it. We didn’t realize we weren’t moving forward. We just slowly developed that pattern.
God wants us to move forward.
He wants us to help his plan and will make all things work for good to move that plan forward. My own depression, self-doubt, laziness and just downright stubbornness are what gets in my way. I have to push those things out of the way and do what I know I need to do. God has innately told me what I need to do. The divine part of me, that is made in God’s image, instinctively knows what to do. There’s a fine line between your own divine thought and the thoughts of your inner ego.
I believe that is where prayer and meditation come in. I need to be praying and meditating in addition to this writing. I need to do the writing – but not feel guilt and shame (my arch enemies) when I don’t do it. I need to stop guilt and shame in my life. I do not believe that guilt and shame are part of God’s plan. This could be seen as ironic because the church is so associated with guilt and shame. But Jesus died for us, and for our sins so that we don’t have to feel guilt and shame.
That’s a beautiful sentiment. That alone is proof that all things work for the good of those who love God. If you know God and love God, you have conquered guilt and shame.
I’m not a huge “the devil made me do it” type of person, but I believe that there is a devil – whether it is truly the fallen angel Lucifer, or if it is the dark side of our own divine being that has been spoiled by our sinful nature. But that’s where guilt and shame keep coming back.
While we are built in God’s image, we are not God. We are not perfect. We will make mistakes. But there is no reason to feel guilt or shame because God has forgiven us for our transgressions. And he says that all things work for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. What is his purpose?
By reading what Jesus said, it is to love our neighbor as ourselves. To help the helpless, to feed the needy, to spread his love. His love should flow through us so that we don’t even have to tell other people we are Christians. They will know we are Christians by our love.