I had a friend who used to greet people with “How is life treating you?” He was just asking how someone was doing, but what he said points to something I’ve been thinking about more and more.
We tend to think that life is “treating us” or that life is something that happens to us. We are at the mercy of circumstances, situations, conditions, etc. Growing up, our marriage, our finances, our careers, our health, so many things that are so important to us seem to be out of our control.
And it’s true. At least partially. Things do happen to us. People other than us do have influence on us and have something to say about things that affect us.
But it’s also not true. In the long run, it isn’t what happens to us, but what we do that shapes us–and in turn influences others around us. The most important things in my life aren’t out of my control, but if I THINK they are, I’ll ACT like they are and in essence, I take whatever life gives me.
My marriage is what my wife and I make it. My work is what I make it. My health is what I make it. Of course others impact these things. My wife has a lot to say about my marriage. My kids and even grandkids have something to say about my relationships with them. I serve a congregation full of sinning, imperfect people (yeah, just like me) and they have a lot to say about what “work” is for me. And of course, I live in a fallen world where growing up in a smoker’s home, living in polluted southern California–just having my dna all have an impact on my health. My life is a mixture of what happens and how I respond to it.
But faith is just a bit different. It still depends on someone else–God himself. He does something, then I respond. Just like everything else my faith is a constant mix of God’s action and my response.
With one major exception. God is constant. He is loving, faithful, committed to my redemption.
In every other aspect of my life I have to rely on someone or something happening to allow my positive response to have the best results (though even without that my response can still be positive!). But with God, it all depends on me. The reason is simple. He is faithful. Always. He never wavers. He never fails. He never lets me down.
The only variable is how I will respond. My relationship with the Lord is in my hands because he will always do his part, and then let me do–or not d0–mine.
Life isn’t treating me. I’m living.