The biggest lie I’ve ever believed is this: If you follow the rules, things will go your way.
I wonder where we pick this lie up? Is it implicit in the way we praise children for obedience, or was it something I just assumed to be true as a child? I really don’t know. But early in life I decided I wanted to be good, and for the most part, I was. I made good grades, I didn’t get into trouble. I went to church and youth group, I was President of the Christian club in high school. And because I was good, I thought life owed me. I did the right things, so I thought life would always go my way.
Amazingly, that lie seemed to be true for a little while. I was lucky in love and married well. We struggled in the ways all young couples do, but my life was going the way I thought it should. Then we decided to have a baby.
Pregnancy doesn’t care who’s been good, and when I had a miscarriage, my understanding of how the world works imploded. I was the opposite of patience and grace while I waited month after month for those two little pink lines again. I had done everything right, I didn’t deserve this. I practically demanded God give me a baby in return. It didn’t work. In the year between the miscarriage and pregnancy, I was so angry, confused, and hurt, I could barely open my mouth without spewing emotion. I often joked, “If this is a test, I’m failing.”
Looking back, in many ways I did fail – not because of my emotion, but because of how I viewed God. I saw God as the Great Arbiter of Gifts, not as a Person who wanted a relationship with me. I was measuring God’s love by what He gave, not by who He was.
My view of God was destined to implode. It needed to implode, because it was untrue. At some point in every life, you do the right thing and things don’t go your way – even when what you want are good, natural, right things, like babies or a good marriage.
The notion that rule followers have an easier life is a lie. Sure, sometimes you reap what you sow. But sometimes you reap what others have sown, and sometimes you sow and sow and sow and never reap any fruit. God didn’t promise me a life of ease and prosperity because I’ve followed the rules. In fact, he promised the opposite – the first will be last, one will sow and another will reap, and following all the rules doesn’t count for squat in the Kingdom of God.
In other words, God promises life isn’t going to be fair.
I used to follow the rules and expect God to make life go my way. Now I know God loves me, and He always wants good things for His children. These days, I don’t pray for things to go my way. Instead I pray for the grace to handle whatever life throws my way. I don’t want my view of God to ride the tides of circumstance. I don’t want to look at what’s happening to measure what God wants. Instead, I’m asking God to make me a better, more faithful person, regardless of what is happening in my life.