I already know this is gonna piss some people off. Those who take offense are the very ones who need to read this a couple more times. They’ll be alright, once the swelling goes down.
Many systems of religion existed before Christianity and I would guess many of them will follow in the centuries to come.
I was raised in the church and have no problem with having faith in a Higher Power, the Universe, or God. In the words of the Doobie Brothers, “Jesus is just alright with me.”
He really is.
In the days of antiquity, mankind was afraid of everything. Being at the behest of predators, parasites, wild swings in weather, and trying to make sense of a world that was beyond our collective grasp, ancient man created and assigned deities to everything.
The Greeks, not wanting to offend an entity they either did not know or forgot to acknowledge, dedicated a statue to The Unknown God. We now casually dismiss most of those outdated systems as mythology but at one time, they were religions.
It had to be a great comfort to attribute a reason for the crops being pummeled by hail as the wrath of an angry being to whom we had forgotten to make sacrifice. It was the Blame Game, taken to another level.
That game has not gone away.
I’ve got an example I like to use when it comes to prayer, as it relates to maturity and common sense.
There was a little boy who was born into a family as all boys are. As a baby, his mother and father had to feed him, change him, and bathe him. It was a comforting feeling to be cared for and taught by those who’d preceded him.
When he was 2 years old, his father would sit out cookies and a sippy cup of milk at snack time.
When the boy reached the age of 5, he could ask permission and, with some help, pour his cup of milk.
By the time he was 10, he knew when it was snack time and could do it all himself.
At 16, he was working and could actually purchase the cookies he liked best, plus some of his mom and dad’s favorites.
After graduating college, the little boy got married and started a family of his own. With his wife pregnant, he would soon be guiding his own children in the ritual of snack time.
The above gives a linear account of a child maturing and a bit more responsibility being introduced as his understanding and coordination matured. So, at the age of 30, should the little boy call back to his parents’ home and ask his father’s permission to break out the milk and cookies at his own house?
It’s a ridiculous question but this is how many people of faith tend to operate. Always wanting a safety net and someone else to blame if the milk gets spilled and the cookie bag has been invaded by ants, they ask their Heavenly Father permission for things they could do on their own.
There is a time to pray and ponder and meditate and wait. But then, there is a time to take all your years of experience, go out and immediately get it done.
There’s a saying we have in the game of dominoes: “Study long, study wrong.” We can miss out on some time-sensitive opportunities in life by overthinking and waiting too long for something to which we already know the answer.
Being a morally upstanding person with Christian values and beliefs, I don’t need to ask God to cosign on my plans to rob the neighborhood bank. I already know that to be covered in the Ten Commandments and that it won’t get his stamp of approval.
Here’s the key: All I need to do is tell the Lord “thank you” for the life, health, strength, and maturity to seek out and take advantages of opportunities. Sometimes, I may need to pray for understanding on a matter that has eluded me, but otherwise, as an adult with grown children and a grandchild under my belt, I know the mechanics of right and wrong.
By removing the safety net of excuses (“I guess God just didn’t want us to have that,” “The devil is fighting me on this,” and “Another opportunity will come along, God willing”), I am able to take responsibility for my actions. I have faith that the Good Lord has already provided me with the guidance I need, allowing me to be humble in the fact that I don’t know everything, but bold in the fact that I know what I know and can learn what I don’t.
Once the crutch is removed, we will be able to proceed with the expectation to succeed on based on our own moves forward. Don’t worry; as long as you’re not doing something morally reprehensible or completely out of step, God is willing to back your play. Just don’t use faith as a cover for your fear. Failure to prepare and take advantage should not be blamed on any Higher Power, just the lack of power and faith in yourself.
Now, fix it.