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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Tuesday, October 27

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.
—Mark 1:15

Christianity really is counter-cultural. You go to school, watch TV, listen to the grownups, and here's what they'll tell you… If you want to be a good person, if you want to have the good life, then you'll need to develop self-control, self-determination, self-direction, self-identity and self-confidence. That's the formula for the good life. “I am in control of my self.”

But that's crazy. Who is the I that is going to control my self? Why make your self into a thing, an object to be manipulated? We are not things; we are not objects to be fixed. We are mysteries, wonders. Stop mending those nets. Surrender. Repent.

How do you grab all of the dials and instruments of your life—and life itself —and operate all the controls when you don't even know who is driving or where you ultimately want to go? All you do know is that you want everything to be right, whatever that means.

Ah, that's the forbidden fruit, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The hunger to be right, to win the argument. But no one has the truth in any absolute sense. We can only glimpse the greatness of God; we can only appreciate God's wonder as it is reflected in creation.

Fishermen know that. That's why they observe the signs of earth and sky and sea, accept and respect their wonder, and never make the mistake of thinking that the fisherman controls the weather. Neville Ward says, “to be united with Christ is to be making progress in seeing life as it is, not as the child within you wishes it to be, and receiving grace to love its real presence.” (The Following Plough, p. 22). Maturity in spiritual life includes our abandonment of absolutism and perfectionism.

That's a message that can be freeing. You don't have to know everything. You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to control yourself or your circumstances. Relax. Repent can mean relax. Stop trying futilely to fix your self. Relax and be who you are. Sure, some of your impulses need to be controlled, but that doesn't mean that you as a person have to be controlled, by yourself or anyone else.

Relax and receive life as a gift. Don't be afraid. Trust. You are just fine. You are a mystery. God loves you extravagantly. There's nothing to be afraid of. Let God run the world. Relax and do the best you can. Sometimes the fish bite; sometimes they don't. Sometimes it's calm; sometimes it's stormy.

Some ideas and phrases in this meditation come from Simply Sane by Gerald May, M.D.

Help me surrender, O God, to your wisdom and love, content to receive and respond to life as a gift, confident that you accept the offering of my self as a sacrifice, holy and acceptable to you, which is my spiritual worship. Amen.

These Signposts were originally published on in 2005.