My wife and I learned early in the lives of our three daughters that, while they came from the same gene pool, each was very different. That was a cool realization, because it added to our wonder of being parents.
Each little one that came along was its own bundle of mystery and intrigue on their way to becoming its own unique, surprising self.
Along the way, we tried our best to teach each of our girls all the polite things that would make them better citizens…like table manners, toilet training and waiting their turn to speak.
But there were two things we didn’t have to teach any of them.
Two things came naturally, not just to them, but to all of us.
We all come out of the womb knowing how to be stubborn, and knowing how to be selfish.
While most parents hope their child’s first word is, mommy, or, daddy, the greater likelihood is that it will be, “MINE!”
My daughters’ first two-word sentence was, “I KNOW!”
And their first three-word sentence was, “I DO IT!”
As true as that is behaviorally, it’s even more true spiritually.
That’s been my struggle for the better part of 40 years.
Maybe there’s something Biblical about that.
More accurately, it was just me being what my dad would call being, bull-headed.
There’s no good reason it took me as long as Moses spent in Midian, or the Children of Israel spent wandering the desert, to figure out that I serve God best when I lean on Him for wisdom, guidance, direction and inspiration.
I’ve found all of that and much, much more in the past year simply by spending more time listening for His voice, either through quiet reflection, scripture reading or prayer.
You see, I finally stopped living independent of God and started living in dependence on God.
Trust me, there’s a big difference.
I’ve had spiritual hot streaks before and never sustained them, because this is the first time I’ve really understood the peace and privilege of just being a vessel for the Holy Spirit’s leading within me instead of driving the process of serving God on my own.
I start every day by investing in spending time with Him to assess my spiritual priorities for the day. What box do I need to check that day — sending an encouraging text, writing a blog, spending time with my wife or girls, praying for someone, etc.?
Before I try to do anything for God, I try to just be with Him, and let Him impress His agenda upon my heart.
I have some long-term things I sense He wants me to work on. I have some short-term things, too. The one thing I know I have to work on every day is my relationship with Him.
I can’t live independent of Him any more.
So many verses resonate with me in that regard:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” (Prov. 3:5)
“I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. The new has come. (2 Cor. 5:17)
“The fear (reverence) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Prov. 9:10).
Those verses have always been in my Bible. I’ve read them all before. So why do they resonate with me now?
Part of it is the amazing impact God’s word can have on us, depending on what condition our hearts are in when we absorb its truth. The reason people say the Bible is the living, breathing Word of God is because it has the power to change your life literally every time you open it.
If you don’t understand that, pray that God would open your understanding and remove whatever barriers are preventing you from connecting with Him.
I think the other reason those verses impact me so much now is because I realize I’m on the down side of the mountain and I really want to make an eternal impact in gratitude for God giving me salvation through Christ’s death on the cross.
I’ve pulled against the reins as He’s tried to lead me over the years. Trust me, I’ve pulled hard. But you know what happens when you pull against something? You build strong muscles.
So my neck is good and strong, and capable of carrying a heavier yoke.
God has a long track record of using people’s failures for His greater good. It’s hard to find a giant of the faith who didn’t have a colossal screw-up at some point.
Abraham, Jacob, David, Jonah, Peter, Paul…Bruce.
I’m in good company.
Maybe you are, too.