Erwin McManus begins chapter 3 by attempting to connect with this common experience in our lives. He then goes on to write; "You can't escape that there are hopes and passions inside you, waiting to come alive" (p. 60). Stop and consider that reality for a moment. If money was no object and you had no responsibilities holding you in place, what would you do? Do we believe that God has the power to make our wildest dreams come true?
The life of faith is a life of mystery. God doesn't hand us a detailed map of our lives, rather He sent Jesus and tells us to follow him.
For most of us, walking with God is a mysterious journey of faith and discovery. I wish that the moment we entered a relationship with Jesus, God would send us a memo that spelled out everything. Erwin, this is what you need to do and give your life to. Here is what you're going to be really good at, and attached is the paint-by-numbers version of how to create the life of your dreams (p. 61).A life like this would lack faith and the vital experience of trusting God in the unknown. It would also hinder us from taking the risk to discover the life God created us to live because everything would be just handed to us.
I like this thought:
If you're going to engage in a journey with God, if you are going to follow the God who created you, if you're going to explore mysterious, dangerous, unknown, uncertain places—then you need to know how to reinvent yourself. You have to learn how to adapt (p. 63)Over the last few years I have reinvented myself. My political views have been radically changed, my understanding of Scripture has been transformed, plus I got married. Change always occurring in life. One of the things we must decide is whether or not we want to direct that change.
What a wonderful truth to remember; "Your circumstances do not determine your opportunities" (p. 66). There may be all sorts of circumstances set against us, but no circumstance can complete block us from faithfully following after Jesus and the life God created us to live. We can take initiative back and begin to live the life God created us to live.
Erwin McManus goes on to write; "Your circumstances do not equal your opportunity, because your opportunity is shaped not simply by your external factors but by the internal factors of who you choose to be and become" (p. 68). Part of faith is choosing the path of life, the path God laid out for us to follow, rather than quitting because of the circumstances which are set against us. Daniel and Esther, the two people he focuses on in this chapter, persevered even though deadly circumstances were staring them in the face.
This require humility. "Part of learning to reinvent yourself is learning how to be teachable, resourceful, and flexible" (p. 70). We are able to reinvent ourselves through the help of other people. We should never allow our pride to get in the way of surrendering to God's will. To become content with who we are is to establish a roadblock to becoming the person God desires us to be. Humility helps us understand the areas of our lives that we need to change and the voices we need to listen to in order to make that change possible.
Here is an important lesson to remember; "You either adapt when you face circumstances you cannot control, or you allow them to become the boundaries of your life" (p. 72). Obstacles, tragedies, and unforeseen circumstances make up the journey of our lives. If we are going to rise up these things and live the life God created us to live then we have to be flexible. We cannot allow the circumstances of our lives to hold us back, but rather we need to seek wisdom as we look for a way around those obstacles in our lives. It is by being teachable and seeking out the guidance of other people that God will direct our paths around the roadblocks of life.
As we follow Jesus and seek to do the good works that He has created us to do we need to be teachable and we need to be resourceful:
But when you become resourceful and start pulling out the stuff God has place inside of you and start drawing on that creativity, intellect, talent, and experience that God stored within you and start becoming resourceful, then you become extraordinary and begin to develop your own uniqueness (p. 73).Each one of us has a unique set of talents, experiences, education, and resources at our disposal. When we allow these things just to set and collect dust all we have is potential, but when we decide to use these wonderful blessings God has given to us then we begin to influence our part of the world for God's Kingdom.
I like this; "Improvisation is not the result of shooting from the hip but knowing where you're aiming" (p. 77). It is easy to "just wing it" because our lives are full and we don't always have time to prepare. This isn't bad, especially when we have enough experience and resource to draw upon. A good jazz improvisation is beautiful because of the experience and talent of the musician. The musician knows what he is aiming at. Improvisation and flexibility should never be an excuse to be lazy and not to prepare, for true improvisation is the result of being so prepared you are able to handle the unforeseen circumstances that come your way.
While we need to be flexible we should never surrender our identity or core beliefs.
If you want to reinvent yourself, you have to know who you are and who you long to be and not violate that on the journey. At the same time, you must strengthen your core in order to be flexible in every other area of your life (p. 82).When it comes to adapting and reinventing ourselves we first need to have a firm foundation to build upon. Several years ago when I encountered my crisis of belief and considered walking away from faith I had to come to grips with what I truly believed. What I discovered was that at my core the belief that I never doubted was that Jesus was the Christ the Son of God and that he was killed and resurrected. There are a lot of things I don't understand or don't know, but it was this foundation that I began to remodel my life upon and I have never looked back. Jesus is the core of my identity and all the changes that happen in my life must fit with him.
I think this thought is a great way to bring this chapter to an end; "While our dreams may be different, and each of us has a unique path to walk, this I know is true for if Jesus Christ guides your life—your life can never be simply about you" (p. 85). What more can I say? As we seek to reinvent ourselves and to adapt our lives to the circumstances of our lives we must constantly remember our lives are about Jesus. He is the source of our lives and when we surrender to his will he will get us to the place he wants us to be.
Erwin McManus, Wide Awake, Thomas Nelson (2008)