Anyways, because of time constraints, I won't bother to lay out here the entire backdrop to my recent epiphany. If you haven't heard the story already and are really curious, e-mail me for details.
Suffice it to say that I have seen the power of God at work in a big way, in a way that profoundly affected my outlook. Up until this point, I had been going through the motions of Christianity, "Honoring God with my lips, while my heart was far from Him." Though I knew of God's tremendous power as well as his incredible love, I largely kept this knowledge in my head, refusing to let it percolate down to my heart and really transform my life. In a way, it feels safer.
We can "know" about a lot of things, like the assasination of Abraham Lincoln or the boiling point of water, but these things don't compel a change in our lives. To truly "know" something in an intimate and involved way, to adhere to a set of principles or to devote yourself to an ideal, requires sacrifice and commitment.
This is the crucial step I refused to take for a couple years. God would make his presence known, would really reveal himself to me, and I would say "No, I'm quite comfortable here on the sidelines, thanks. The preview was alright, but I don't really want to sit through the feature presentation." As Neo, the conflicted hero of the Matrix Trilogy, would say "I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my life." We want a manageable Deity, an inflatable God if you will, someone we can take out of our pocket and inflate on Sunday, but if He ever gets too big, we can just let the air out and put him back in his place. See, we're all really control freaks at heart. ;-)- We're like the stubbornest Dad in the world, who absolutely refuses to surrender the remote control.
So, there I was, trying to struggle through life, putting my hopes in people and things that could never satisfy me, and wondering why my life sucked so bad.
It was only when God removed absolutely every crutch that I'd been leaning on, and ripped off every band-aid superficially covering my wounds, that I comprehended my own desperate condition. Lying on the ground, incapacitated, bleeding from my wounds, I realized the utter futility of my insubordination. There's a great quote from one of my favorite generals, taken from one of my favorite books, that sums up this reasoning well:
"Not until soldiers are surrounded do they each have the determination to resist the enemy and sustain victory. When they are desperate, they put up a united defense."
-Sun Tzu, from The Art of War
"Put them in a spot where they have no place to go, and they will die before fleeing. If they are to die there, what can they not do? Warriors exert their full strength. When warriors are in great danger, then they have no fear. When there is nowhere to go they are firm, when they are deeply involved they stick to it. If they have no choice, they will fight."
-Sun Tzu, from The Art of War
To put it simply, I was completely and royally stuck. But God had accomplished his purpose in causing me to forsake my foolish pride and acknowledge my inability to control my life. As C.S. Lewis wrote, "As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on people and things; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you can't see something that is above you." This expresses my pre-brokeness view perfectly. But, several months ago, I finally took my eyes off of MY life and MY problems and MY situation, and focused on God and the life He had in store for me.
There are only two things in this life that truly matter in the long run: God and people. How you relate to both of these determines your quality of life. Once you surrender your life to God, you'll begin to notice how you start to care more and more about the things the God of the Bible cares about. Also, the things that God values and the things that the world values are polar opposites, so by association people will see definite difference in you; in the way you act and in the way you approach life. This is your best witness, your primary weapon in the war for the souls of humanity.
In closing, I would encourage each of you to stop the car, get in the passenger seat and let God drive. Hand over the reins, and rest securely in the knowledge that he has the bird's eye view that sees trouble before it even materializes, and that he "knows what is best for you at all times."