One of the things I wish I could have expanded on this weekend is the danger of simply accepting all of life's circumstances as "God’s will". This is a little tricky…and requires that we walk it out circumspectly. At the close I mentioned:
“Is God testing your character right now? Your destiny—your calling—will be dependent on how you allow Him to shape you. The philosopher Heraclitus wrote, “Character is destiny.” What prison are you in that’s shaping your character right now? Is it a prison of your own making…or is God working something into you now that will determine your destiny…because it’s forming your character?”
There are a couple of caveats here.
First, it would have been good to spend more time discussing “prison of your own making”. This leans into some of our core philosophy in recovery ministries at Vineyard Community Church—our Growth & Healing Community—as it relates to renewing our mind (Romans 12:2). For instance, because of abuse issues in our pasts or poor authoritarian models, we can easily have irrational thoughts and believe certain scripts—or lies—about ourselves and God. Knowing the truth about who we are in Christ is crucial as it relates to emotional wholeness and healthy self-esteem. When we create our own prisons—and those can also be from unforgiveness, boundary-less lifestyles, outright rebellion, or a host of aberrant behaviors—it is disingenuous to blame God for our circumstances. In the prodigal son parable, the son “comes to his senses” one day and sees the ridiculous consequences of his life-choices. The exit is different in a prison we have self-created.
Second, when circumstances go south, we can’t forget we are in the middle of a metaphysical combat zone. There is a real malevolent being who operates like a spiritual Mafioso. We need to understand when it’s time to fight and a time to stand our ground when "the day of evil comes", as Paul writes. In other words, beware of simply falling into Christian fatalism; Paul will have none of that in his description of spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6. You don’t have to take all of life’s slime lying down. Of course, discernment is key here. But there is a time to fight…and to fight the right thing.
Circumstances aren’t always what they seem.
And alas, there are only so many minutes in a weekend celebration.