If you follow this blog you know that I’ve been “heads down” for this past year writing a book on healthy mindsets that give any of us the best opportunity to experience Jesus’ abundant life.
The book is entitled: 3 Truths & 7 Mindsets: Changing the way we think to experience Jesus’ promise of ‘abundant’ peace, joy, and purpose. Kindle Version link
Here’s the essence of my aim:
Each one of us desires to experience a deep, sustained sense of joy, peace, and purpose. It’s how God designed us. In reality though, these are elusive to most people, even those who are faith-filled and otherwise successful.
Why do these attributes escape our grasp? Is it because life is hard and not particularly fair? Or because we have unrealistic expectations that often lead to disappointment? Or regrets about our past and nagging worries about the future? Or perhaps it’s that we don’t really trust God and His sovereignty?
This book provides a simple, powerful set of principles to equip you to experience a deep and pervasive sense of joy, peace, and purpose regardless of your circumstances, your talents, your bank account, or even your achievements. Your ability to experience them is less about what you know and far more about what you believe (our truths) and how you think (our mindsets).
This is the journey I’ve been on for nearly two decades now – transitioning from the workaholic, Type “A” person who was intent to solve all of my problems by working hard and accomplishing everything I set out to do…to a Jesus-follower who embraces a small, healthier and more liberating set of truths and mindsets that are life-giving.
Jesus’ invitation and promise is irresistible, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matt 11:28).
I’d like to invite you on the journey with me…
I’ve had a few trusted friends read the book and there is one principle that seems to resonate with people more powerfully than I would have predicted: “do the next right thing.” At the risk that this musing is a bit longer than normal, I thought I’d share this excerpt in case it is helpful and it comes from a Chapter entitled, God’s in control…of the outcomes:
My default mode for too many years had been to take control of any situation and to ‘make things happen’ in life. Dependence on most anything was uncomfortable. As I’m learning to embrace (and love) this mindset and become far-less ‘driven,’ my dependence on God and His Spirit working in and through me also becomes more attainable.
I can hear your objections from where I’m writing: It’s easy to say, “let go and let God” but it’s close to impossible for most of us to put this pithy principle into practice. How does a human, even a Jesus-follower, who is taught from an early age to be independent and self-reliant in life genuinely take his or her hands off the steering wheel of life and let God ‘take the wheel’? It’s just not our natural inclination!
And yet, when we get this right, it’s amazingly liberating because we aren’t just relying on our own strength to accomplish whatever we set out to do in life. Instead, we’re plugging-in to where God is working and trusting him to equip us to help accomplish His purposes. Paul’s words in Philippians are encouraging and reinforce the notion: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).
Best-selling author Sarah Young, in her devotional, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence echoes this encouragement to the reader from Jesus’ perspective:
Follow Me wherever I lead, without worrying about how it will all turn out. Think of your life as an adventure, with Me as your Guide and Companion. Live in the now, concentrating on staying in step with Me.
When our path leads to a cliff, be willing to climb it with My help. When we come to a resting place, take time to be refreshed in My Presence. Enjoy the rhythm of life lived close to Me. You already know the ultimate destination of your journey: your entrance into heaven. So keep your focus on the path just before you, leaving outcomes up to Me.
Try loosening the grip of your hands and invite Jesus to live in and through you. Once you’ve chosen to embrace the three core Truths outlined in the previous section, you’ll have the confidence and assurance that God can be trusted with the outcomes.
Do the next, right thing
In case you misinterpreted this first mindset to say, “I don’t really have to do anything – just give it all to God” – that’s not the message! We still have to be diligent and responsible. We’re still on a journey of learning, discovering, and growing so that we’re well-equipped to be used by God at work, at home, in church, and in our communities. But we can pursue all of these things with a genuine sense of peace that God can be trusted with the outcomes in our pursuits and in our lives.
And yes, there are times in our lives when we get overwhelmed. We may have more priorities than we can possibly manage; a serious illness that prevents us from doing our work effectively; a semester of difficult courses in college that are challenging and seemingly beyond our capabilities; or perhaps even the pressure of a struggling business or a lingering job search as our bank account dwindles to dangerously low balances.
When there are more alligators in the pond-of-life than you can possibly manage – don’t endeavor to accomplish everything at once. This strategy tends to paralyze even the most capable people.
Instead, there’s a simple, game-changing principle that’s effective amidst overwhelming circumstances: just do the next, right thing! You may be tempted to ruminate on your regrets about how you got into this situation, but you can’t change the past. You also can’t influence the future much at all, even if you endlessly fret about it. Consider one question that most matters: what’s the next, right thing I can do to make progress today? And then pause long enough to invite God to give you clarity in identifying your priorities and next steps.
Eventually, as you make progress, you’ll pause long enough to poke your head up and realize just how far you’ve come and how many things you have accomplished – by simply doing the next, right thing. And very often, the best way we can see our progress in the face of difficult circumstances is by looking backwards at where we have come from instead of being daunted by the enormity of what lies ahead. Keep things simple – focus on doing the next right thing and learn to trust God with the rest.
When we get this right…
We wake up each morning, put our feet (or knees) on the floor and humbly pray, “Lord, I don’t know entirely what lies ahead, but I trust you with this day. I’m trusting and grateful that today’s activities – my appointments and even the people I meet – are in your care. I’ll choose to trust that good will come from whatever may transpire and I pray more than anything, that Your will be done. Help me to see the world as you see it – to celebrate what you celebrate and grieve what breaks your heart. And finally, Lord, I pray that you’ll equip me to be a prayerful and peace-filled observer of what you orchestrate and that I have the privilege of witnessing. I will rest well embracing the knowledge that you are sovereign and I am not, thankfully!”
If you do decide to download the Kindle version of the book I’d appreciate you taking an extra minute to rate the book (honestly). Thanks for taking the time to read this excerpt and I always value your feedback and thoughts!