Thursday, July 10, 2008

the bus, the boat and the body bag

This is the first in a series of posts reflecting on Grace Walk, a book written by Steve McVey.

A memory popped into my head this morning. Twenty years ago, I was just transferred to a new department at Citibank—and after a few days on the job I was called into the big boss’ office for a staff meeting. He asked about my first week, and I replied by listing all the processes I thought we could improve in the months ahead.

Someone who was at the meeting later ran into the person who previously ran my department and said “Ed threw you under a bus.”

The wheels on the bus go round and round…

My nature—whether driven by ambition or a desire to improve the world—is to go into situations, identify what’s wrong and look for ways to fix it.

I do that with myself, too, especially when it comes to examining my walk with Christ. In Grace Walk, Steve McVey calls this the motivation-condemnation-rededication cycle.

You can see how that plays out in my blog simply by looking at the number of posts in a given month (yes, April and May were condemnation months!). McVey adds: When we transfer a worldly approach to success in the Christian life, we are in for a disappointment.

This resonated with me, a person who comes to work every day, writes a list, then measures success by how many items I can cross off before heading home. So this past week I’ve been trying to be more Mary, and less Martha. For instead of spending time with Christ, Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.

McVey concludes: I experienced peace only after I learned to focus on the person of Christ, instead of what I should be doing for him. Sounds like good advice to me.

Who’s driving that boat, anyway?

I also reflected this morning on an analogy that I heard a few years ago (probably in a church) that described Christian life in terms of driving a boat. It goes like this: the boat is going in one direction, guided by human nature. Once you become a Christian, it’s your job to turn the boat around toward Christ. The boat wants to go the other way, but if you hold onto the steering wheel tight enough, you can change headings. If you hold on long enough, eventually the boat will accept the new course… but if you let go of that steering wheel early—even for a moment—the boat will revert back to its former (sinful) ways.

So… for the past seven years I’ve been holding onto that steering wheel for dear life.

This type of thinking, McVey notes, underestimates the transformation that takes place the moment you accept Christ. In my analogy, once saved by Christ, my bearings changed too—and I became a new person… righteous and holy… a saint.

McVey offers this tip: Just say it out loud, “I am a saint.” Go ahead, try it. The underlying message: no person can consistently behave in a way that is inconsistent with the way he perceives himself.

Funny, I saw a flyer in the deli yesterday talking about self esteem, and how most people derive their self-esteem from factors other than self (grades at school, promotions, etc.) rather than by what’s inside them. Inside, I am a saint.

I’m not dead yet!

Being the saint I am, just had to include a quote from the Holy Grail.

But seriously… if I became a new man… a saint… what happened to the old Ed? Well, I’m still working on this part. McVey writes: you may not feel that your sin nature is dead, but God says it is.

Maybe chapter 5 will help me internalize this a bit more… we’ll see. (to be continued).

If you want to read more commentary on Grace Walk, check out what NaNcy has to say.


Anonymous said...

this is great! i love how you are able to write about this in the way you relate to what mcvey is saying.

it is a good way to relate to waht mcvey is saying and in turn relate with one another and God. it is a blessing.

i thought it was interesting how steve mentioned numbers in relation to his view of success in the business world.

i had a hard time really opening up yet with this because i am very leary of the word "success". i am not sure yet how i feel about using it to describe my walk as a Christian.

i find it has a very worldly meaning and might be good to leave it there. but, i am trying to put that aside and see what mcvey has to say. and i turn what God might have to say to me throuth this.

in other words...let it go and lay it down.


Kansas Bob said...

Very nice reminder that spiritual life hardly ever involves checking off boxes.

The longer I live the more I am convinced that walking in the spirit is a matter of which man is stronger.. the inner or outer man. The good news is that the inner man will get stronger if e will just feed and exercise him :)

Ed G. said...

KB - feed the inner man. I like that. If I could only stop feeding the other guy!

Thinkin Kristian said...

This was great. I am also of the same mind, very analitical which goes hand in hand with critical. You would be great in logistics. There is true talent and discernment in that but its a fine line that must be acompanied with grace....

I gotta read me some McVey!

Ed G. said...

Thank you for your comment. I've been offline for a few weeks, but will definitely swing over to your blog this week... i need to start writing again (keeping too much inside!)