One of my good friends and I decided we were going to change the meaning of New Year’s resolutions for ourselves. We decided to do one thing every day that scares us. We realized that we were letting fear control our life choices - fear of what others think, fear of failure, fear of rejection. Do I take a chance at failing and do this thing in front of me, or do I ignore it and go on with my life? This is much like Jonah’s situation.
You’re not good enough. You’re ugly. You’re not thin enough. You’re not smart enough. The voices get so loud that I can’t focus on anything else. As I stare into the mirror, the feeling that I’m worthless plagues my mind and suffocates me. My joy is gone. But what if our perspective meant more than our perfection?
Over Christmas break I watched the film The Greatest Showman in theaters. Any fans? P.T. Barnum is an excellent example of someone with a gumption for greatness. I had a film student open my eyes to this theme throughout the film. Hugh Jackman’s character showed initiative, resourcefulness, and sometimes shrewdness to make it possible for his entrepreneurial dreams to come true.
Few of us actually care about what is true by God’s standard. Our sinful human nature wants to believe a truth that is popular. A truth that looks “close enough” to God’s truth but justifies something we previously knew was sin, or a truth that is more “enlightened” than God’s truth because it is more “loving” and less “judging”. We like playing God and defining truths like these. They are more comfortable truths. We enjoy living a deception that makes us feel better about ourselves and others.
Freedom, just for the sake of freedom, will breed rebellion in our hearts. Freedom for the sake of seeking the heart of God though, breeds life; it causes us to experience the love of God in a pure way.
When we think of the word “pure”, we tend to think of “perfection.” We can’t mess up. We can’t sin or make a mistake. But we forget about the other synonyms for the word like “authentic,” “plain,” “real,” “simple,” and “transparent.” Purity is deeper than a perfect performance. It’s more than a list of rights and wrongs. Purity gives us a crystal, clear focus.
If we surrender our fears and stresses to God day by day, we can be present in the moment instead of adding to that mile long agenda. When we submit to God and trust Him, we are released from the self-absorption that comes along with holding on to our fears. This is when we are free to invest in others and be a presence in their lives.