Thursday, January 8, 2009

On Being Good: Healthy Alliance—Healthy Reliance

Teaser Alert!!!
Tomorrow commences "Mystery Guest Fridays," a day that spotlights bestselling and award winning Christian authors from around the country. This week's mystery guest and I will be chatting over coffee about this week's topic "On Being Good." Tune in Friday and see if you were able to guess who our mystery guest is this week. Here's your hint:
She's hip and trendy, but humble and gifted with the pen; a Christy Award winning author who's always "Straight Up" about her faith in Christ. Who is she?

Now, back to this week's topic "On Being Good."
As my friend Patsy says, it’s time to reach for the positives. I’ve admitted this week my earlier erroneous perceptions of obtaining spiritual maturity, that of trying to be good through sheer force of will. But for a practical perspective on how one might get on track and get on with growth, I’d like to introduce into the dialogue a healthy alliance that leads to a healthy reliance.

This morning I woke up like I often do as a morning person with an Alpha personality. At the top of the To-do list, along with my writing work, my family’s needs and a morning devotion was World Domination. It’s not a dangerous trait necessarily, often harmless since my desire for domination usually involves conquering the mundane daily problems that might possibly ruin my day later on if I don’t get them solved. This morning I woke up with my World Domination gear locked and loaded. It’s an exhilarating feeling, if you’re a card-carrying choleric. But it can go to my head very quickly, a wee problem when I’m committed to strengthening my spiritual muscles rather than trying to throw my weight around—Paul would call that operating in “the flesh.”

Because I’ve committed this week to the study of practicing obedience rather than “being good”, I mentally took a brick bat to my Inner Dominator. Then the thought came to me: “Hold on! What about this oneness with Christ you’ve been spouting about all week?” Wrestling with the self is an exhausting exercise so early in the morning. So I elevated my thoughts to a loftier plane. Reliance on God is an exercise, but not in sheer white-knuckle force of will. I have to drop one practice to pick up another. I traded my “be good” card for a “practicing the presence of God” card. I mentally began to praise God while admitting what had just happened. It’s like laying down your whole poker hand and allowing him to examine it—hmm, nope, you don’t have a full house after all—so here, Patty, I’ll give you My hand: Love, Joy, Peace, Gentleness, Kindness, Self Control . . .

My Inner Dominator deflated and the real person inside of me—now admittedly exposed before the Master of the Universe--felt peace wash over me. I felt lighter. I wasn’t trying to conquer the world before my first cup of coffee. Instead, I was shifting it through a morning exercise of total reliance on God.

As the sun comes up, it’s a practice that will carry me through the day.

“I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word. My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.”
Psalm 119:147