By Jenny Trees, oneLifemaps Facilitator
What is the difference between formulas and ah-ha moments? A formula is a set of rules or principles. It’s an equation that someone has found to get them to a certain result. You can find formulas for success lining shelves in the form of self-help books. Unlike formulas, ah-ha moments draw us closer to God and are found when we open ourselves up to the journey God is leading us through. They occur through self-discovery and turning to God to hear His call and purpose for our life. It is by no means a bad thing for someone to follow tried and true techniques of those who have gone before, but the problem arises when I follow a prescribed plan anticipating my life to look like theirs in the end. Because God has carefully knit me to think, act, and even respond to Him in a very personal and unique way, when I try to be more like someone else, I am not appreciating all the work God put into making me the way I am.
When I try and live my life by formulas, I live with expectations that I will wind up with certain results. It’s like I am attempting to predict my future. Life doesn’t guarantee that result, no matter how hard I work to follow the rules of the equation. Formulas and planning are valuable tools; however, if I trust them over the Holy Spirit’s voice in my life, I am attempting to take the control of my life away from God. When I live knowing that I am uniquely created by God and waiting for the ah-ha’s of God speaking into my life, I live with an expectancy that God will act in big and intimate ways in my life. I live not knowing when the ah-ha’s will show up, but confidently knowing that God will speak into my story and it will connect in personal and intimate ways I never could have imagined. Therefore, rather than being disappointed when my formula-planned life doesn’t live up to my expectations, I find myself continually surprised by God’s revelations of Himself along the journey.
In the past, I used formulas to connect with God. I’ve heard over and over that if I wake up at 5:00 AM and do an hour-long quiet time, followed by a 1/2 hour of prayer, I will meet the requirements to be connected with God. But, God didn’t design us to all relate to Him the same way. There have been times that I have attended silent retreats expecting God to speak to me with a booming voice, if I just study the scripture hard enough, or read the chapter in the book thoughtfully enough. Each time I have walked away from the experience feeling that God has let me down. On the other hand, I have also had experiences in airports where in the middle of reading a random book, God has shown up in the most profound ways, revealing himself in the words of the book like I never could have imagined and connecting it to my current reality in ways that brought an entirely new perspective to my situation. Life changes for me in these moments.
The story of Abraham is a good example of this. God promised Abraham that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in heaven. At this point, Abraham had a choice to make: did he follow his own formula of how to get to God’s promise or did he wait for God to reveal His plan one step at a time. Abraham tried the formula, he took a step that he thought would get him to the conclusion he expected and he conceived a child with the maidservant, Hagar. After quickly discovering that this was not going to get him to God’s promise of becoming a great nation, he learned that he had to wait with expectancy for God to reveal His plan, which required an amazing amount of patience. When God reconfirmed the promise He had made of a child, instead of taking action into his own hands, Abraham laughed. Abraham had an Ah-ha moment. God was revealing Himself to him in a way no formula could have predicted.
The Listen to My Life workbook has been an incredible tool to look back at how God has met me in the most surprising and unpredictable ways. I love leading others through the materials, because the experience of reflecting on our lives is so different for every person. Everyone I have been through the materials with has experienced at least one ah-ha moment at different places along the maps. It’s not a formula, but a tool to reflect on God’s hand in our lives. Life is a journey to be lived, following God each step of the way. Instead of working so hard to get to the destination, and winding up down a path we weren’t meant to go, we need to figure out how to walk each step waiting on God.
“We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33:20
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Where can you free yourself from expectations that you need to find the magic formula to be happy or successful?
How can you turn to God with each moment and anticipate His action in your life?
Lord, we ask that you help us to walk through each day thankful for where you have met us along the way. Help us to move forward listening to your call on our lives and joyfully seeing you actively meeting us along the way.