“All mortals tend to turn into the thing they are pretending to be.”
Thus said Screwtape, the shrewd demon mentor, to Wormwood, the demon-in-training, in C.S. Lewis’ classic The Screwtape Letters.
I think Screwtape was onto something.
Self-help and success experts have long preached the virtue of acting in ways that are consistent with our desired outcomes.
If we want to be musicians we must tune our guitars.
If we want to be writers we must write.
If we want life-giving relationships we must invest in them.
If we want to be godly we must actively pursue the things of God.
Tony Robbins internalized that sentiment and applied it to our emotional health when he said, “Motion creates emotion.”
Projecting a confident demeanor jump-starts our confidence.
Acting in a kindly manner stimulates kindness.
Responding in humility stirs up more humility.
Expressing gratitude creates a grateful heart.
Worshipping God ignites a hunger for more of God.
It’s easy to be led and controlled by the circumstances around us; however, the New Testament mark of spiritual maturity is the consistent decision to be led by the Spirit versus any other tour guides (Romans 8:4, 14; Galatians 5:16).
When we increasingly become men and women of truth, paying greater credence to the reality of God’s Word than the shifting seasons around us, we are on our way to a happier internal state and a greatly fortified future.
Let’s take a moment to identify the descriptive phrases that we hope will be lauded on us at our funerals and commit to living those phrases now—even if we have to pretend our way to reality.
That’s decent advice for some areas of our lives; however, when it comes to our key relationships there needs to be a caveat: if it could break, fix it before it does. Even more specifically, fix during times of peace what might break during times of war.
Right now everything is really great with my family. We’re all getting along. There is nothing too traumatic pressing up against our tension points, and we’re not having delicate conversations about awkward, emotional issues. It’s nice.
However, that doesn’t mean that aren’t cracks and issues underneath the surface that could split wide open in the right (or wrong) situation. Fortunately, I think I’m aware of what some of those family cracks are and I’m intentionally attempting to reinforce and heal them. I’ve learned the hard way that a time of war is not the best time to try to mend relational challenges. It is much better to intentionally pursue relational health when things are peaceful and good.
Sadly many people fail to operate this way. They’re urgent to fix their problems when the pressures of life pushes those problems to the surface, but as soon as things settle down they lose their sense of urgency. Consequently, their unresolved issues lurk just below the surface, waiting to rear up and wreak havoc during times of pressure, fighting, or stress.
Jesus said, “Suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?”
Let’s be wise kings, counting the cost and fixing in times of peace what might break in times of war.
It would be nice to have a better year than last year.
I would really like to be happier, healthier, and more financially fit.
It would be awesome to have more family time and to enjoy my life more than I did in 2012.
It would be really nice to please God and reach all of my personal and professional goals.
Unfortunately, most of those things won’t happen this year if they’re only nice wishes. If there is any hope of my 2013 dreams coming true it will be when my nice wishes become absolute necessities. I can keep on living without nice, but I won’t last long without necessary.
When vanity urges us to drop a few pounds it would be nice to lose weight. However when our doctor says, “Change your health and exercise patterns of you’ll die,” fitness becomes a necessity.
When the thought of more family time sounds “nice” it’s not likely that we’ll pay the price to change our family dynamics. However when we learn that we might lose our family if we don’t change, our family focus assumes a drastically greater urgency.
It seems that there are three options where our New Year resolutions are concerned:
Do nothing and continue living the status quo
Wait for bad news to compel us to change
Cast a glorious vision of what life could be like, and then let that vision drive our resolve and direct our calendars in 2013
Let’s opt for the latter. Let’s be visionary men and women fueled by God-honoring dreams.
“…One thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
Have you ever played Jenga? It’s the torturous game where you remove blocks from a wooden tower and reposition them at increasingly higher levels. The game is over when some poor soul gets too aggressive in their placement and causes the entire tower to come crashing down.
It’s a fun game if you can handle the pressure, and if you don’t mind winning by default. That’s the thing about Jenga—you don’t actually win per se you just don’t lose. You win by surviving until someone else makes a fatal move.
This nerve-wracking, little game has a life lesson to teach us: it’s not the final move that determines our ultimate success—it’s all of the incremental moves along the way. I’ve lost my share of Jenga matches, and I’ve seldom lost because I was too reckless or aggressive in my final move—I’ve lost when my previous decisions weren’t able to support my final move.
I haven’t known many people who made one random, uncharacteristic move that destroyed the tower of their life. Rather, I’ve seen people make small, incremental decisions that gradually led to a significant downfall.
God wants us to make it for the long haul, and He wants our lives anchored firmly to a rock that is stronger than any of life’s storms (Matthew 7:24-27). We anchor ourselves to that rock by making the right individual decisions along the way.
When we crash in Jenga we can laugh and talk about what a stupid game it is, but we can’t afford to crash in life. Whether we’re trying to avoid a crash or rebuild after suffering from one, let’s make wise, daily decisions that anchor us to God’s storm-proof rock.