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The Life I’ve Got and the Life I Want

The Life I’ve Got and the Life I Want

But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people dwell, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. Exodus 8:22

When I was a kid, I believed that God should miraculously make his followers better at everything. I thought that any Christian college team should win every game and that it would be good advertising for God if he made his followers rich and successful. On a personal level, I hoped that this meant I’d become handsome, popular, and an amazing athlete. It was an absurd, immature theory, and as I grew up, I realized that God doesn’t exclusively bless Christians with worldly success. He sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45). So, I abandoned my God-should-make-me-successful theory.

As it turns out, I wasn’t entirely wrong. I was just misguided about the nature of God’s blessing. Let me explain. In my drug addiction, I found only misery and disaster. In that calamity, I looked around at others and saw that their lives weren’t a mess. What was wrong with me? I had to ask myself the obvious question. Hey, you know what they’re not doing? They’re not using drugs. I had to realize that the life I wanted was completely incompatible with the life of following myself. Now, in recovery, I won’t preach that following God provides me with Earthly success. But I will insist that life is a lot easier when I stop wrecking it. Following myself led to misery and pain while following God has led to joy and peace. As it turns out, God does bless those who follow him – just not in the way I thought when I was a kid.

This is the lesson from today’s passage. In it, God struck Egypt with a fourth plague – a swarm of flies. God specifically spared his people though, drawing a sharp distinction between them and the Egyptians. Anyone could see the difference. Hey, you know who’s not suffering here? The Israelites, because they follow God.

When I’m wallowing in my self-inflicted misery, whether it’s from using drugs or from eating too much, I must be honest enough to draw a line between my behavior and my discontent. What am I doing that is making me miserable? What’s the difference between the life I’ve got and the life I want. Then, I must be willing to do whatever it takes to reorient my life, following God’s will instead of my own. As a follower of Christ, I should be experiencing his peace. Following God may not mean that I find worldly success, never enduring any trials. It should mean though, that I experience life, joy, and peace, despite those trials.

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