a+b=c. We view life as formula, if we can manipulate and account for each variable we control life and arrive at the desired outcome. We take our vitamins every morning to assure health and prolong life. A woman I know works hard to put out ‘positive energy’ believing the force of her thoughts will create favorable results. For all her gyrations, her life is chaotic and unfulfilled. Though we exercise and eat the right foods, the old lady next-door inhales a pack a day with coffee or bourbon and she turns 80 next week. The forty-year-old marathoner drops dead or is hit by a bus.
Christians ascribe to the same formulaic approach to life. They exercise, eat the vitamins and use the bible to put god into a box. Some tithe trusting God to fill their storehouses to overflowing. Many of us have lived good lives so that God would like us and grant us pleasurable lives. We work hard at turning out good works thinking God will pay back our sweat equity. We have A and B figured out but C never turns out as expected.
I live in relationship to God the father. I do not serve a wizard who rewards according to mathematical equation. That is both the scary and the stirring reality. In the midst of a broken world we never can be certain of outcomes. Having a Father that moves in relationship with me as I move through my days gives them a positive spin. Still I have no guarantee.
Years ago I went through severe financial difficulty. Pray as I would no relief came. I never landed the miracle job. I went to bed calculating how I could rob Peter to pay Paul always realizing that I owed more than Peter had ever amassed. I had plugged in my formula and God had not provided as expected.
I try to imagine how it is that God raises me up by looking at how I raise my daughter. There are days that I allow her junk food and Mountain Dew, movies and late bed times. I allow it because I know she will not need significant sleep or sufficient sustenance. At other times, state testing for example, sleep, vegetables and protein are important. By the same token our relationship moves according to periods of play and periods of trial in our lives.
In Christ we have a relationship that surprises, delights, upholds and strengthens. God will move as He sees fit; not in response to a bottle rubbed for wishes or a good deed done to bribe the Judge. If there is a formula that works it is that we give up trying to control and manipulate and we rest in the providential care of God.