Photo credit: Krizean Josh Victa
“A thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect—life in its fullness until you overflow!” – Jesus
(John 10:10 The Passion Translation)
Ah, New Year’s. I love this time of year.
If I inclined to invest this time of year, I’d buy my stock in paper and pen companies. Because at New Year’s, everybody starts making lists.
Look at that paper fly! Cha-Ching, there goes my stock, y’all …
Lists of things to do. Lists of things to stop doing. Lists of places to go. Lists of things to acquire. Lists of habits and qualities to cultivate. Lists of resolutions to make. Lists of destinations to visit. And, yes, lists of investments to make.
There’s a funny thing about lists, thought. I don’t know about you, but when I see them, I get overwhelmed.
It might not be an instantaneous sensation. More like a slow trickle of anxiety that gets bigger and bigger the longer the list gets. You know what I’m talking about?
I know how much work is involved here. I know how much money I’ll need. I know all the factors that go into those lists. Above all, I know how bad my track record is at checking off the boxes. All of a sudden, I’m having a full-blown panic attack … and the list isn’t even complete yet.
Fortunately, this year, I didn’t even bother going through this painful ritual.
Yes–it’s January 1st, 2019, here in Dubai. And there’s not a list in sight in my iPad, my phone or my old-fashioned Leucchturm paper journal. I don’t make resolutions anymore, and for that matter, I hardly make plans.
I don’t have to, because God sends the right things to me at the right time–and I have an unshakable faith in this endless divine Flow.
Stepping into God’s flow is so much easier than trying to plan everything out in advance. I mean, when have we really ever been able to predict what’s going to happen? Even though we want to?
You can paddle upstream agains the current, or let it carry you effortlessly downstream at top speed. I prefer the ride, thanks very much
It’s not possible to enjoy the ride of Flow, however, if you’re 100% committed to struggling instead.
I’ve observed over the past few years that there really are only two approaches to life: Struggle and Flow. Both approaches are a conscious choice, and our choice will dictate how we approach this business of setting goals in the New Year, or anytime of year in general. It also affects how well we do at achieving them.
Most of us land squarely in the Struggle camp. We can’t help it. We’re born there. Even if our family had means when we were growing up, chances are, they still did a good job of indoctrinating us with the idea that life was hard. Opportunity was scarce. And the best chance we had to make anything happen was to try really, really, really hard. And when necessary, jump over tall buildings or shoot a rocket to the moon and back.
Life, too, seemed to reflect this belief. We had to try really hard at school, fight for our college acceptance letter, fight even harder to stay employed so the college bills would be paid. Along the way we experienced difficult relationships, difficult church situations, difficult health events.
We took the pain as it came, shouldered the burdens as best we could and told ourselves this is normal. Life is destined to be a struggle, and we just have to put up with it–and ask God to help us endure to the end while we hope for a blessing or two along the way.
Am I wrong?
I may be exaggerating here, just a bit, but if you scratch beneath the surface of most of what we’re taught about life, you’ll discover that Struggle is a core human expectation. I call this the “Lifestyle of Struggle”–and I believe it’s a key reason we make New Year’s resolutions that we already know we won’t keep.
Photo Credit: Krizean Josh Victa
But there’s another way to do life.
It’s not a way most of us are born into. It’s a way we only discover on the journey, by God’s mercy, and hopefully one we begin to realize the Bible teaches as we grow in our faith. If not implicitly, it’s implied by how the Apostle Paul and others speak about the abundant life in Christ.
This is the “Lifestyle of Flow”–and it’s the opposite of Struggle.
Where Struggle says, “Life will be hard and I just have to endure and hope God shows up,” Flow says, “God has already made me a conqueror in Christ, and I’m going to simply show up every day and respond to what God is doing that day, and expect miracles to ensue.”
Flow doesn’t overwork. It doesn’t worry. And it doesn’t overcompensate for perceived inadequacies. Flow simply wakes up and says, “God, I am ENOUGH in you. Now what do you have for me today?” Then it expects the next thing to unfold–whether it be relational, health or financial–with no drama.
This is not to say there won’t ever be challenges, suffering, or setbacks. But someone living from a place of Flow knows the uncomfortable is just a mirage designed to obscure the endless abundance of God that will undergird the situation, if we let it.
Flow doesn’t expect money to be hard to get, or speak like it is. Flow expects to be abundantly provided for–to have enough to live comfortably and also give away. Flow expects relationships to be simple and harmonious. Flow embraces a healthy lifestyle as a natural part of caring for God’s temple–and genuinely enjoys the foods and practices that build the body up rather than tearing it down.
Above all, the person living from a place of Flow just naturally expects that good things will unfold, that the right opportunities will come, that they cannot be missed and that they will not require striving or great feats in order to obtain.
Think that sounds like pie-in-the-sky? I did, too, until I made the intentional switch of my operating system. Over time, I realized that as much as I said I wanted the struggle to end, ultimately I didn’t want it badly enough to really do what it would take.
It was easier, ultimately, to continue the thoughts and behaviors that resulted in low self-confidence, poverty, poor health, obesity, endless relational drama, fear and isolation. Those were thoughts and behaviors I knew.
Struggle was familiar. I knew how to do that very well. Flow was something I never experienced. It was scary to imagine dropping my default expectations of pain, sadness and drama in favor of a life completely free of that.
I had to make a conscious decision that I would no longer live expecting life to be so hard. And I could only do that when I was good and ready to make a change. But once I decided I was so fed up with Struggle that I would do whatever it took to change …. I found the switch to Flow much easier than expected.
I decided I would not act like I was broke, alone and in pain. I would behave as a person who had all the financial resources in the world, all the amazing relationships I could ask for, and an incredibly high level of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
Oddly enough, when I quit showing up in the world expecting financial lack, broken relationships, purposelessness, health problems and chaos … I quit receiving it.
For years I have asked God how long it was going to take before my life transformed. In 2018, I truly discovered that I was not waiting on Him. He was waiting on me.
When I quit expecting Struggle to be my portion, thing truly began to change. I began to shift my thinking and my actions. And my experiences in life changed, too.
I landed an amazing job in Dubai through miraculous circumstances, and it has begun to prosper my life. Drama left my circle of friendships for good, and I’ve forged the most amazing relationships of my life. God has guided me into my purpose, and the terrible health problems I used to have are gone–without massive interventions from healthcare providers. My body is healing and becoming stronger than ever. And I don’t wake up anymore to discover that “the other shoe has dropped” in the middle of the night.
Last week, on Christmas Eve, I signed papers on a beautiful little apartment in one of the nicest neighborhoods in Dubai, just ten minutes’ walk from the beach. It was the perfect apartment for me and showed up, without any drama, within 24 hours of me telling God I was ready to finally find my home here.
Boom. Just like that. One phone call, and through a series of small miracles, it dropped into my lap. That’s the power of living in God’s Flow.
It was also my expectation … but only AFTER I realized I was actually living with an expectation that finding an apartment would be difficult and scary. One I recognized my underlying expectation, I decided to switch it up. And change followed almost instantly.
I decided to expect that that apartment to show up, within my budget, in that exact neighborhood. I quit expecting to have to wait three years, look at three thousand properties, fight with landlords, live in a cardboard box first, or go into debt in order to get it … despite the fact that people suggested I could expect all those experiences here in Dubai before finding my place.
You get what you expect. What are you expecting this New Year’s 2019?
Jesus died so that the curses of this fallen world could be broken over our lives. Totally and completely broken! I believe this is not just applicable to our spiritual lives and our destiny in heaven, but our physical lives too. I do not believe it is God’s will for any of us to live in squalor, confusion, depression, loneliness or poverty.
God is waiting to deliver us from the deepest, most long-standing battles of our lives, and to do miracles we don’t even believe are possible right now. But we must come to Him and lay down our commitment to struggling throughout our lives. If Struggle is a choice, then we can surely choose something else.
“I am come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly” doesn’t really say anything about Struggle. Will there still be battles to fight? Is this still a fallen world? Yes. But I believe God wants to redeem our earthly lives beyond our wildest imagination, if we’ll let him.
Will you let Him transform your experience in 2019?
Flow and Struggle cannot co-exist. Before you can step into Flow, you must step out of Struggle. And this is a conscious decision.
So this New Year’s, tear up those lists, forget the resolutions, turn on your favorite music and dance instead. Go to God and prayer and tell Him you want to give up Struggle forever and open your hands to receive everything He really wants to send you.
(NOTE: You’re probably actually not open to receiving everything yet … I certainly wasn’t! … but if you ask Him to open your heart to His biggest blessings, watch out! He’ll take you on the adventure of a lifetime while He prepares your heart for so much MORE!)
Make 2019 the year you step into a life where the things you need show up when you need them, and doors open for you, without you having to push them.
You won’t be guaranteed a bed of roses … but I believe you’ll discover, as I have, a new place of freedom and rest where there burden isn’t on you anymore.
Let Him deal with the Struggle, so you can enjoy the Flow.