Man's greatest moment of pride and character is when he is pushed beyond what he thought was his breaking point and succeeds.
I don't know who first coined that phrase but the man who made me and 45 other teenage boys memorize it was Jerry McDougall, my high school football coach. He is one of the winningest coaches in CT history. While I played for him we won two state championships and at the end of my JR year were ranked #13 in the country. He was the National Coach of the year. When he told us to do something we did it.
So I memorized that sentence and tried to live it. And it served me well for the last twenty years. Playing football in college, dealing with relational hurts, tackling the corporate world, even in ministry, those words echoed in my mind. I have willed myself to do things I didn't think possible. Gail will tell you I even claim to be able to will myself to not get sick when the rest of the family comes down with some nasty virus.
This belief that I can control outcomes has gotten me thus far. But...as the level of responsibility in my life increases, daily, it seems, controlling outcomes and willing myself to succeed has become exhausting. I am tired. My soul is tired. I am learning there is much I cannot control. Then I read this paragraph from Dallas Willard this morning:
"...pride is the root of disobedience. We think we are "big enough" to take our lives into our own hands, and so we disobey what we know to be right. This distances us from God and forces us to live on our own. Soul rest becomes impossible."(Willard, Renovation of the Heart: Experiments in Spiritual transformation p 145)
I have spent my life trying to control outcomes. I don't like the idea of giving up control. I know that is what it is supposed to mean to follow Jesus. You give control of your life over to Him. And all these years, I guess I thought I had done that. I have let God lead me....to an extent...but then it has been my job to insure the proper outcome.
Jan Johnson, co-author, Renovation of the Heart: Experiments in Spiritual transformation, suggests starting with this prayer as a way of "abandoning outcomes to God:"
" I trust you, O God. I want to simply rest in your life as you give it to me. Show me how to be at peace...Help me to look to the heavens and exclaim, 'Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. I'm thrilled O God to dwell in your house, O God, forever.'"
I'm, by no means, ready to give up but I want to 'simply rest.'
I don't believe God wants me to abandon the drive and determination I learned under Coach McDougall but at the same time I know God wants me fully surrendered to Him and to the idea that outcomes are His deal, not mine.
tags pride and character Dallas Willard Christ follower Christianity