Saturday, January 30, 2010

30 Steps to A Perfect Life and Other Lies

I am drawn to books and articles that offer solutions to life's problems in "x" number of steps. Clear and concise instructions with checklists appeal to my linear, methodical way of thinking. Just like various fad diets, they all work if you only can stick to them. But really, how many times can one perfectly repeat a mantra? How many bowls of cabbage soup can one stand?

These articles are nothing more than stylized, heavily marketed versions of the Law and they're lies. They don't work because we're human, we fail, we make mistakes, we become lazy or distracted by other more pressing obligations. The sense of failure when we slip up is devastating and damages our spirits, as well as our bodies.

But there is something/someone that does work - Jesus. "For God has done what the Law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh..." Romans 8:3

Deep breathing has it's place in managing stress. Eating more fruits and vegetables is a healthy practice. Counting to ten before hitting "Send" on a scathing email is a really good idea. But to look to these practices to solve life's problems is futile and leads to even further frustration and disappointment. Pursuing the various programs presented at newsstands and websites have no long-term success because they are not pursued by faith. Correction, they are not pursued by faith in the Sovereign God. Putting one's faith in the program is destined for failure; putting one's faith in God (and we can, only because of Jesus) will always succeed.

Even frustration, though, has it's purpose. "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from it's bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God." Rom 8:20-21. Success is not defined by how many pounds one loses or accomplishing a debt free life. Success is freedom from bondage to sin and Law. Success is freedom from the disappointment experienced from mistakes and failures and injustices. Success is leaning on God's grace and mercy.

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