Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Way of Life with God

Occasionally I read from The Message version of the Bible which helps me understand. I saw Galatians 5:22-24 before Christmas and was so touched that I placed these verses in every Christmas card and with every gift. Paul teaches a great way to live!

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely… Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.
I rededicated my life in 1998 and knelt beside my bed.  In my prayer I told God I understand why the answer to my prayer was “No, my child.” Please lead me and teach me from now on. From that day forward, I have felt the serenity mentioned in Galatians with gifts coming into my life. He helped me direct my energies wisely to lead the tennis teams at Wesleyan University. I had exuberance and conviction to learn coaching at a higher level for not only young women, but young men also. The job stretched me in ways I hadn’t even dreamed of before; and led me to depend on our Father in heaven. We, coach and students, learned to compete, but one t-shirt the women’s team made for me tells how much more we had together. It stated on the back “10-0, UNDEFEATED, INCREDIBLY GOOD LOOKING, AND DARN FRIENDLY TOO!” Our opponents were more than just rivals; we understood they were students too and a basic holiness permeates things and people. Because I turned to Jesus my paranoid loneliness went away. He not only gave me a job working with kids I came to love; he gave me the way to love them. He gave me new in-laws and new grandchildren that love me back.

But what if I had continued developing a temper and refused to love the kids; Galatians 5:19:21 tells me what would have happened. We would have been angry at every loss.
It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time; repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, thank you for the words of Paul of Tarsus giving us guidelines to live by. Forgive me when I forget them. Amen.
Sandra Hilsabeck-Hastings



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