Superhuman Life No.112
Beginning a Guided Life
by Ernest O'Neill
Most of us don’t want to be robots. We hate work that could equally well be done by a machine, and we don’t like being treated as if we’re machines that just keep on doing the same thing again and again. Yet many of us find ourselves living our lives just like this. We end up in jobs and even in leisure-time activities repeating the same actions again and again, day after day, week after week, and year after year. But still something inside us rebells against this because we feel it takes away our free wills and makes us seem like robots.
On the other hand we don’t like the insecurity that results from having no structure to our lives. Most of us have experienced the boredom that set in when a teacher at school could not create order in a classroom: the period seemed to drag on and on. We like, too, the safety and reassurance that comes from having a steady job and an ordered workplace. We find we’re most contented when we have this combination of order and freedom, overall structure plus personal liberty, planned direction and freedom to extemporize -- that makes humans happy.
This seems to be the meaning of profound definitions of providence like “we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” We remember how a kindly father or mother, coach or teacher would know us better than we knew ourselves; we know how they used that insight and wisdom to lay out a plan for us and then to gently nudge us back into it whenever we got off track. As we look back at our own lives and see the apparent chance events or encounters that changed the direction of our development, we begin to discern a “divinity that shapes our lives, rough-hew them though we will.” Even when we badly misjudge and disastrously mistake the way ahead there have occurred unforeseen events that helped to get us back on track. When we couple this with the way our particular personalities or abilities have forced us to do things we would not have chosen, it becomes obvious that our lives are governed by something or someone wiser and gentler than a robot-maker who wants mechanical slaves.
In fact our own experience of life is very consistent with the whole truth that the man Jesus of Nazareth explained on earth in the first century. He made it plain that He Himself is the only Son of our Creator, that he existed before he came to earth and continues alive in the infinite world of eternity. He then said that we were his body – you an eye, me a hand – here on earth so that he could live a life through each of us individually. Such a reality is consistent with much of what all of us have found in our own experience of life.
Often we’ve sensed something or someone within us that guided us to do certain things or say certain things that we would not have normally said or done on our own. At times we’re been surprised at our own courage or boldness and felt almost grateful to whatever it was that produced such stamina and endurance. If this is the reality of life – if this is its actual explanation – if this is why you and I are here, how do we work WITH this rather than against it ? How do we let this Son of God – this Christ in whom we have been created – how do we let Him live in and through us – how do we do what he does ? Obviously by acting appropriately – if the maker of the world is actually in us, then it’s just good sense to expect him to make his will for us clear. This is the heart of living from the inside out – it just makes good sense to spend time each day reflecting on the sheer reality that you’re here to do something that your maker can do only through you. He’s going to explain this only to you – and he can do it only if you listen and are intent on hearing. This is why it’s good to have some time near the beginning of your day to think about his existence and what he thinks about you. As you start to do this, you’ll get to sense what he is like and what he thinks.
At the beginning you’ll be aware of your own mind doing the thinking and sometimes you’ll wonder if you’re imagining what he thinks. But gradually you’ll find thoughts and attitudes surfacing from your sub-conscious that seem unusual for you. They seem to come from somewhere deeper than just your mind. As you examine them and try to see if they’re sensible, it’s good to find out more about the kind of things this Jesus said and did when he was on earth, so the Bible is a good protection against being deceived by false imaginings. Of course the best way to deepen your understanding of your maker’s plans for you is to DO what you think he wants you to do and say. Jesus once said “if you do my will you’ll know what I say is true”; so align your life with what God seems to be guiding you to do. He can correct you at times through confirmations from other people or through difficulties that you come up against. So outward providential circumstances can help you to find your way – sometimes making it easy and at other times strengthening your character by making it hard.
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