Chapter 7 of Bob Buford's book, Halftime, is about taking stock of life. He recommends several actions which will help us take stock by getting our heads and ourselves out of the rat race and into Hebrew's (12:1) "race God has set before us." Buford says make peace, take (and value) time, be deliberate, share life, be honest, have faith and be patient. All of these are good and worthy of a morning or two to reflect and process. But I think Dennis Kinlaw (professor at Asbury Seminary) hit the key to being able to do all of these things in a reflection about life and evil. Kinlaw said, "Satan disguises submission to himself under the ruse of personal autonomy. He never asks us to become his servants. Never once did the serpent say to Eve, 'I want to be your master.' The shift in commitment is never from Christ to evil. It is always Christ to self. And instead of his will, self-interest now rules and what I want reigns. And THAT is the essence of sin." WOW!!!!
So ... here is my advice to me, you, all of us. Let go of self, ego, my way, my heart, my direction, my control ... what I have defined as me. Remember how evil operates (Genesis 3:1-7). People are portrayed as smart and self-reliant. God is portrayed as being a liar desiring control of 'our' destiny. Satan is portrayed as being 'wise.' Satan turns Adam and Eve toward self and toward finding THEIR destiny. God, knowing the answer already, asks Adam a question later in the chapter ... "Where are you?" He might have asked ... "Adam, are you still here, living in My garden that I have provided, or are you off finding YOUR destiny?" "Do you want to be LIKE Me (master of all you see) or do you want to be like you (a being created for God's glory and God's purpose)?" Let go of your/my ego!
Kinlaw's observation is interestingly relevant to some cutting edge science being used to deal with anxiety. Several researchers are using psychedelic means to deal with anxiety are finding that losing anxiety is accompanied by a loss of ego. It seems that the loss of ego (through very chemically-technical events in the brain) might result from having an experience that takes the person totally out of control, ensuring that they see their own smallness in how things really work. I am certainly not condoning using psychedelic drugs but I have known people who would try anything to get rid of anxiety and depression. For most of us, however, we might just be able to learn from the example of Adam and Eve. If we want to truly take stock of where we are at halftime, we must lose our ego. We must be honest with ourselves. We must trust in something/someone bigger than our meager self. We must see our smallness and how God's bigness is our path to significance. We must embrace, see, shout and celebrate one of the most freeing things we can learn in life ... "It's not about me!"
Those 4 words (with one contraction) are the key to taking stock. If God is the master and I am the follower, I now have a Scripturally-defined, important purpose. In Genesis 2 God places Adam in the garden to 'tend it' and 'watch over it.' Take stock ... how are you doing this? Is it YOUR garden or God's garden? Lose the ego ... grab on to all God has for you! That's my advice! Randy