I tend to be a pretty black and white person. And I’m not really someone gifted for their empathy. It’s not because I don’t love people or have any grace towards them because I do. I just have the kind of personality that is highly logical and thinks if you do this thing, this thing, and this thing, this result will come.
This is true to an extent and has definitely been true in my life for many many years. Until this past year. 2017 was a year for God to mess up my whole world. I checked every box, I did everything correctly, I followed the rules of what I thought would yield a specific set of results… and everything went to crap. I fasted, I prayed, I sought counsel and no matter where I turned I got responses of “You’re doing everything right. We’ll keep praying for you guys.” It just didn’t make any sense. A + B was NOT equaling C and my analytical brain couldn’t process it at all.
But let me backtrack. I talk about coming from a legalistic background a lot and for good reason. Recognizing beliefs systems and forming new beliefs is incredibly important. But equally important to that process is understand what underlying beliefs you already have and evaluating whether they’re right or wrong. The season of my life that I spent obeying rules set by man in an effort to get closer to the Lord I’m still unraveling. That kind of lifestyle burrows deep in to your soul and the effects of it you don’t even realize sometimes until you’re faced with it punching you square in the nose. That’s what 2017 was like for me. And it took almost the entire year before I realized God was trying to teach me something.
Not only am I logical person that thinks that A + B = C, but I was taught in a very legalistic community the same mindset. My spiritual upbringing looked something like this: If you read your bible every day, pray, fast occasionally, go to church, have awesome spirit-filled worship, pray in tongues, listen for God’s voice, and do what He says you’ll have an amazing life full of blessings, abundance, and provision. If you weren’t seeing those results (blessings, abundance, and provision) it was because you were being disobedient to the Lord and you probably had a host of demons to go with it.
Now, all of that can certainly be true. If life is going to crap it could be because you have demons or you’ve walked outside of the will of God. And it is absolutely true that when you follow what the Lord says and have a great spiritual life then God can bring you blessings, abundance, and provision. The problem is, while both of those things CAN be true, that doesn’t mean they will ALWAYS be true. Sometimes A + B = !#%?$*&@. Decipher that as you will.
Sometimes you can check every box, be a great Christian, do all the things, have no demons, and things just don’t work out like you thought they would. Sometimes you can do everything right and the miracle you expected God to work and the amazing provision you expected to be there just doesn’t show up. Sometimes A + B does not equal C and let’s be honest… that sucks.
2017 was my year of not understanding a thing that was happening and it wasn’t until I had coffee with an amazing friend that she finally brought it to my attention. I wasn’t doing anything wrong, God just needed to teach me that sometimes A + B = !#%?$*&@. God had to unravel this idea that I had that if you were a good Christian you would get good results (by man’s standards) and if you were a bad Christian you needed to cast out more demons.
God always does work things out for our good, but our idea of “good” versus God’s idea is vastly different. For me, what was “good” for me was seeing God’s approval not a manmade scorecard. For me, what was “good” was growing in grace and empathy and removing the seat of judgement I had a tendency to prop myself on. For me, “good” was letting my life be a little messed up just so I would have some very genuine conversations with the Lord. 2017 wasn’t my favorite year but it was some of my favorite moments with God. No, A + B does not always equal C but Me + Jesus always equals peace and what I’ve learned is that’s enough. I don’t need any other answers (although dear God I would love some). I don’t need to live by a formula, I need to live by a Spirit.
We all have deeply rooted belief systems that sometimes God has to shake apart because he didn’t plant them to begin with. If your mindset it being completely torn apart in this season… embrace it! It sucks, it hurts, nothing will make sense for a little bit, but on the other side of that is a brand new understanding of the Lord that is so much better than anything we could have built on our own. Let 2018 be your year of unraveling. Let yourself be a giant ball of string smashed together. Let God pull you apart little by little until you’re at the end of your rope and completely exposed. Don’t worry, God will create something beautiful out of it when He’s done.