Playing by the Rules

Do you have a theme for your year? Every January i like to spend some time thinking, dreaming and praying to get a sense of what the year ahead is going to look like and to settle myself into a truth that i believe will be key for the challenges and adventures ahead – a theme for the year if you like.

For any of you who’ve been following this blog for a while now, you may remember that last year’s theme was God’s faithfulness – and boy did i need to return to that wonderful truth again and again as my husband and i said goodbye to loved ones, moved countries, took on new jobs, renovated a house, found new friends and had a gorgeous little baby boy! Faithful is certainly one of the words i’d use to describe my Papa God in 2015!

So, looking ahead for 2016, i’ve stumbled upon a new theme for a new year. This one’s going to require more courage from me. My theme for this year is ‘Playing by the Rules’. Now that may not sound like it will need much bravery to see it through, so let me try to explain –

In Ezekiel 11 God tells the Israelites

“You have not walked in my statutes, nor obeyed my rules, but have acted according to the rules of the nations that are around you.”

As i read this verse a couple of weeks ago, it struck me that we are all playing by someone’s rules. No matter how we live our lives, no matter how independent-minded or unusual we like to think of ourselves, the reality is each of us is living life either according to Kingdom rules or worldly ones – there is no other option.

The more i think about it, the more i can see how big a temptation it is for me to live by worldly rules – rules that dictate how i spend or save my money (usually selfishly and in accordance with my bank statement), rules that dictate how i interact with people (often seeking to please people so i will be liked), rules that dictate whether i take risks or not (failure is something to be feared so playing it safe is often deemed more ‘sensible’). The temptation to live by worldly rules is strong because it makes me feel more in control.

Playing by Kingdom rules is much more risky. Now, don’t get me wrong – when i mention Kingdom rules, i’m not talking about the 10 commandments. I’m talking values far deeper and far harder than 10 simple laws. I’m talking about outrageous, over-the-top love like Jesus modelled, even to my enemies. I’m talking extravagant generosity, for my finances are dictated by the unlimited resources of heaven and my Papa who loves a cheerful giver is my provider. I’m talking crazy faith that laughs in the face of risk – for faith pleases Him, not performance, and so the fear of failure need not have a hold over me anymore. I’m talking unreasonable joy and unshakable hope and mystifying peace.

So, you see, my theme of ‘playing by the rules’ is no easy task – it will take courage to live in the grace that will empower me to live according to these rules. But oh, i want to go all out in playing by them. I don’t want to play it safe any longer. I want to be outrageous and unreasonable and unshakable and risky. And i want to do it all to the glory of God.

How about you?

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