Currently, I’m in a Sunday school class reading and discussing the book, The Good and Beautiful Life by James Bryan Smith. It’s so worth the read. I highly recommend it!
He tells us that we all have believed in false narratives, which ultimately have resulted in what we think defines happiness and success. It’s true; we’ve all bought into the age-old lie the serpent whispered in the garden that happiness comes from following the principles of the world; happiness comes from being our own god.
In Romans 1:18-32, Paul describes how a human life falls prey, therefore resulting in ruin, the soul’s destruction. Each time I read it, I am challenged to be on guard! Mr. Smith introduces a different path. By following the Sermon on the Mount, he challenges us to look behind these character flaws, the false narrative, and replace our false beliefs with Jesus’ narratives about life in the Kingdom of God.
I just finished the first chapter, which in a nutshell is characterized by this quote by Alexander Solzhenitsyn: “The meaning of earthly existence lies not, as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering … but in the development of the soul.” I’ve been encouraged to remember that change is possible, and no one is past redemption, even me! Also, I’ve been given an assignment to write a letter to God about the life I most want for myself. Below is that letter …
Father God, the life I most want for myself …
I want to love YOU with all my whole heart, mind, body and soul. ”The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel (Nancy), the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (NIV, Mark 12:28-30)
I want to always do, be … involved in something bigger than myself that requires dependence on YOU and not in my default button – a flesh pattern in self-sufficiency. To do, simply be … involved in something that really matters, that is making a difference, and having an impact in the lives of others for YOUR Kingdom. I don’t simply want to settle for less – be caught up in the business of living, but know the difference, maintain a discerning heart, an engaged mind between just doing a ‘good’ work(s), and doing a ‘good’ work that really matters, one that reflects YOUR HEART, one that YOU have called me to do, be!
I want to be involved in helping, encouraging, edifying others, to be actively engaged in authentic compassion, mercy and available to listen when others disappear or when it is inconvenient. To be mindful of YOUR Spirit’s leading and courageous enough to obediently follow.
I want to be courageous enough to step out in faith beyond my comfort zone for YOU!
I want to respect all people. After YOUR Son, Jesus said “Love the Lord your God” is the most important of the commandments, he continued with the second: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (NIV, Mark 12:31). In order to do this, help me to love and see myself as YOU love and see me!
I want to be humble, display this quality of being courteously respectful of others instead of the opposite, which is aggressiveness, arrogance, boastfulness, and vanity. I know this is exactly what is needed in my life to honor YOU, to live in peace and harmony with all persons, which dissipates anger and heals old wounds. When I choose humility, it allows me to see and display dignity and worth to all humanity (Proverbs 17:7, Matthew 20:20-28).
I want to be honest, a woman known for her integrity for YOU. I don’t want to take part in any form of deception to gain an advantage or harm another whether it is by false statements, half-truths, innuendo, slander, gossip, or rationalization (another form of deception by which we convince ourselves that sinful actions are justified in order to achieve a good result).
I want to live a moral life. Often I think of morality in terms of sexual sins but according to YOUR Son, Jesus who gave us a list of actions that constitute immoral uses of the body: evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual impurity, theft, false testimony, slander, greed, malice, lewdness, envy, arrogance and foolishness – it is more than sexual sin. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
I want to be generous with the time and money YOU’VE given. My earthly Dad was very generous and his heart for generosity was passed on to me. YOU did that! But more so, YOUR heart is now my heart. The Bible tells me to share generously with those in need. I want to be generous, but also discerning, and give and go when YOU lead (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).
I want to practice what I preach to honor YOU! I so desperately want to walk the talk for YOUR Glory. One of my favorite quotes comes from Frances Assisi, “Preach the word at all times and if necessary, use words.” See Matthew 23: 27-28.
I don’t want to be known as self-righteous and dishonor YOU. This too is a struggle – because YOU know my flesh pattern is grade “A” flesh. See Matthew 7:1-5.
I don’t want to hold a grudge. Though tempting in my flesh, YOUR Son, Jesus has said there is no place for hatred, holding a grudge, revenge, and retaliation or getting even. See Matthew 5: 38-40, 43-45.
I want to know without a shadow of a doubt that my earthly children are walking in the truth, that they understand and walk this life with a dependence on YOU (Drew and Micah are Christ-followers, Josh is not following Christ, but believes in God ~ PRAY). “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” … 3 John 1:4
I want to forgive others, but also forget as YOU have done! As hard as it is, YOUR Son, Jesus is my example. YOU have so mercifully forgiven me, blotted out my transgression(s), that I too and only through YOUR grace am able to do the same. See Matthew 6:14-15 See my Blog, CravingSoul: I Don’t Find It Hard To Forgive:https://sevim143.wordpress.com/?s=forgive