January 13, 2013

Truth Transforms: How God Moved Me from Worry to Peace

Since I'm reading through Truths We Confess: A Layman's Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith by R.C. Sproul in these early months of 2013, I have the suspicion (and you should, too) that I'll be sharing from them occasionally, as I encounter thoughts and ideas worth passing along to you.  Here's where we'll begin:  Sproul wraps up his thoughts on Chapter 3, Section 1 of the Westminster Confession of Faith with these words:

God is not the only worker in the universe, however.  We are also workers.  We are actively involved in making choices and exercising real power.  Energy is really transferred from one thing to another.  But these things do not happen independently of God.  He exercises his power and sovereignty over all created things 

The more we reflect on this and work through  some of the apparent difficulties, the more we realize that our destinies, our lives, and our children's lives, in the final analysis, are not exposed to the blind forces of chance or fate.  This is our Father's world, and our lives are in his hands.  His purpose and will are being brought to pass.  For this reason no consistently Reformed person can be a pessimist.  You may be pessimistic in the short run or in limited areas, but in the long run and in the big picture, you can only be an optimist.  Do we just dabble in Christianity to feel good about ourselves or be spiritual, or do we really believe that there is a living and reigning God of the universe?  If we do believe that God is sovereign over all things, that should impact our whole way of thinking.  To think theistically, to have a Christian worldview, is to see ourselves, the world, life, and history under the guidance, direction, and will of God.

~R.C. Sproul, Truths We Confess, p 81-82

*     *     *

I was raised in a Christian home and I am very grateful for it.  It is a blessing to easily call to mind Scriptures and hymns that did not mean much to me at the time, but are supremely meaningful in my life now.  Despite an up-bringing in the church, however, I did not catch on to what Sproul lays out above until years after leaving home.

All my life I was a worry-wart.  I worried a lot about my reputation, being perfect, not messing up, getting excellent grades.  I worried, because I believed that so much rode on those things.  If x, y, and z did not turn out just so, then I was doomed to a future of misery and sorrow.  I also worried about terrible things happening to me: house burning down, loved-one getting sick or dying in a tragic accident, and so on.  I worried about so many things I could not control because, well, I couldn't control them and that scared me.  This pattern/habit/lifestyle of worry began as early as I can remember.

Now I look back and can see clearly how it controlled me. I remember, when we were first married and lived up in Cambridge, MA around the time of the anthrax scare and talk of biological warfare, if I was awake and night and heard an unexpected plane fly over, I'd wonder if "this was it."  Crazy, right?

Well, I don't know.  If our fundamental view of life does not include the truth of the sovereignty of God, maybe it's perfectly normal to think it all rides on your performance, the fates, and/or karma.

If our fundamental view of life does not include
the truth of the sovereignty of God,
maybe it's perfectly normal to think
it all rides on your performance,
the fates, and/or karma.
But up in Cambridge we found ourselves in a church that diligently taught Scripture, weekly preached the Gospel, and instructed us in good theology.  Boy oh boy, did God, in His perfect timing, use that to do something to me!  As the years marched by, the worry-wart began to transform into a woman at peace.  The Lord opened my eyes to the fact that my life is not a television drama.

Neither is yours.

The God of all creation offers mercy, redemption, and transformation to his creatures who don't deserve it.  While you were sinners, Christ died for you.  And if that's not enough to knock your socks off, the Bible says that God, the One who is in charge of and watching over all that is going on, works all things together for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.

It is naive to imagine that you can orchestrate your life in such a way as to avoid pain or suffering.  The Bible  (and so does our experience, really) teaches us that those are part of living on earth   It is also foolish to  live in fear of potential disasters striking like they do in the movies (at just the right emotional time). Why are those approaches to life naive and foolish?  Because God Almighty has revealed Himself - Truth - to us in His Word, and He says 1) difficult times are unavoidable and 2) not to fear, because He is in control - sovereign - over all of it.

Dear friend, if you are a Christian, you need not be a pessimist, because you worship, love, and serve the God who has all things under the guidance and direction of his perfect and trustworthy will.  That's not wishful thinking, that's solid ground.

Friend, if you are not a Christian, I invite you to check God out: talk with people who know Him, attend a worship service (or more), start reaching the Bible (I recommend starting with the book of Mark or John).  The Truth sets people free, and I'd love for you to know freedom!

Have a great Sunday!

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