I am constantly asked questions of a theological nature. Someone is told by a friend who told them something their cousin said the Bible said from a post on Facebook… and they want to know “what is the right answer”. My first inclination is to tell them to go look for it in the Bible, but it never seems to satisfy, so I just answer the question. Most often, we believe things that are to be categorized under “BAD THEOLOGY”. For those who just got lost, most of the questions stem from struggling with lies they had been told and believed it to be a Christian principle.
“If it is to be, it is up to me” is a great motivational phrase, but it is fraught with “works righteousness”. This means that your success or failure is solely dependent upon your own abilities, strengths, and attitude. While all of those things are important parts of success and failure, the lie is that “this is what life is about”. This driving principle has two inherent flaws in logic. If you are to succeed, you have to do it alone. Your spouse cannot help, nor can your friends and family. You must do it alone. However, if you fail, it is because you were not good enough or capable or succeeding. And throughout your whole life, you are worrying about the house of cards falling, because you are constantly acting under the lie that you are never enough. And while you cannot rely upon anyone, you place yourself in the position of having everyone else relying upon you for their success. No matter whether you succeed or fail, your fate, and theirs, is in your hands. No wonder we are stressed with that kind of pressure!
Matthew 6:25-33 speaks about worry, but the truth in this passage is about so much more. It is ultimately about how you do not have to be ambitious, brilliant, powerful, or successful to be important. When we approach faith in the bent of “if it is to be, it is up to me”, we buy into a lie because we are not the authors of our story, only contributors. There are former homeowners who lost everything due to circumstances beyond their control and who did everything right and still ended up homeless or back to where they were in college… “ramen noodle, party pizza, mac and cheese” broke.
God is our provider, our redeemer, our strength, and our savior. There is a difference between praying for an opportunity and planning as though it will happen, and “if it is to be, it is up to me”. There are many who lost everything only to realize that what they lost had cost them so much of themselves and their happiness. Those who had “lost” everything, in spite of being powerful, ambitious, organized, and connected, discovered that they were able to gain so much more because the lies were no longer robbing them of life.
When we stop trying to control the uncontrollable, we can find ourselves relying upon God to define success and failure. We also learn to stop blazing our own path and instead start walking the narrow and difficult path that God has for us because we know it will go where we need to go instead of wildly swinging a machete hoping we don’t fall off a cliff. More so, when we stop worrying about our own lives, we can realize that our lives are meant to be shared by others, and there is strength in having roots woven with others.
Do I rely upon myself for success or do I allow others to help me succeed?
Do I pray and plan, or do I exclude God from my efforts and decisions?