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A Reason to Smile

PerceptionThere is no denying our perception of the world affects the way in which we live. Whether it is the prediction of a looming New England winter storm, which of course means a trip to the grocery store to buy milk, eggs, and bread! Or the potential of a job change at work affecting our productivity. Even the possibility of a relationship clash can lead to avoidance or aggression.

These are simple examples; however, the underlying truth points to the way God has wired us. While humans are stuck living one minute to the next, we have the ability to know time is moving forward and the current moment has an impact on the future. When we make decisions in the present moment, we understand there are consequences. You might be one to make quick decisions or prefer to take your time to deliberate; regardless, we are faced with countless decisions in life. The more science studies the brain, the more we realize humans are bad, if not, incapable of predicting the future. Yet, this doesn’t change the fact we know our decisions have a profound influence on our future.

When we look at our relationship with God in light of this limit to human reasoning, it reveals a potential source of our difficulty in accepting God’s direction in our “What If?” moments. We approach our interaction with the Divine as though we have to know the potential outcome ahead of time. This reduces our relationship to God to a transactional relationship focused on a one-for-one way of praying. Instead of embracing God as our good and loving Heavenly Father, we view God as though we have to make a case for our existence. Author Mark Batterson explains it this way:

“The most insidious lie we can believe about God is that He is somehow against us. It’s the same lie that planted seeds of doubt in Eve’s spirit in the Garden of Eden. We’ve doubted God’s goodness ever since, and it’s the root cause of a thousand other problems. If the enemy can get us to buy into that original lie, we posture ourselves against God because we think God is against us.” (If, Chapter 2)

This way of viewing God poisons every thought we have about Him. It holds us captive in our ability to relate to His desires for our lives. How can we live fully free in the work of Jesus salvation by the cross if we still believe God is against us? It is though we feel the need to justify our place in the family of God. When we see God through this inaccurate lens, we approach every “What If?” possibility as though we need to test God’s faithfulness and prove our deservingness of His provision. Not only is this a weary way of living, it places the burden of faith on us instead of where it belongs…on God alone.

Theologian James Bryan Smith points to the teaching of Julian of Norwich in a perfect summation of God’s humbling love and acceptance of us. Smith shares these words from Julian:

“The greatest honor we can give to God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love. What God most wants is to see you smile because you know how much God loves you.” (The Good and Beautiful God, James Bryan Smith)

This love is completely irrational! We cannot comprehend it, dissect it, or earn it. We can only accept it and live grounded in the love of the One who first loved us. This leads us to make one decision; will I live in the love of God knowing that He is for me? If the answer is yes, then every “What If?” possibility shifts into a loving response to our Heavenly Father. Trust becomes the overflow of our one decision to say, “Yes” without qualifications. No longer do we need to live guarded, trying to predict the future, weighing the potential risks and outcomes. We walk with a smile on our faces because our hearts know Who loves us.

How does it feel to know God delights in you? Would your life look different to live with your feet firmly planted on the truth of God’s love for you? There is no time like the present to receive God’s love and allow Him to change your perception of Him and the world around you!

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