“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
When I was a little girl, my Dad’s side of the family had reunions during the summer at Lake Tahoe. My aunt and uncle had a big cabin there and so all 20 of us would pile in. We toasted s’mores every night, ate my Aunt Beth’s famous salmon loaded with butter, darted through the trees playing make-believe and at the end of the week had a huge whipped cream war with the cousins and the uncles while the aunts took pictures and laughed. During these summer vacations, my cousin Talia and I had a tradition we always carved out a few hours for. We would open up the board game Life and set it up, adding on bits of paper with milestones we felt the game lacked, and we would play it over and over and over again. We would play maybe 20 times and record our results. Then the deal was to pick one of the game outcomes and spend another few hours writing out a life timeline based on the milestones we’d landed on. We would say what college we went to, what year we met our husbands, the names of our kids and what fabulous jobs we miraculously had straight out of college. We planned out every single detail.
“Palms up” has been a phrase that has been coming up a lot in my walk with Jesus. It’s the idea of letting go of control and receiving what God has for you. It’s the physical interpretation of the mental mindset that His plan is better than mine. But it’s one thing to think “palms up” over something small. I can say “palms up” when something minor derails from the plan I was expecting. It’s a hell of a lot harder to say “palms up” and to actually live “palms up” when it’s a big derailment or something that doesn’t fit into my definition of God’s goodness. But here’s the thing that gets me – is my ultimate goal in life to have everything go according to the plan I came up with when I was a little girl? Does life get defined by the age I get married, the number of kids I have or the amount of money I make in a certain career? That perspective has left me feeling empty and dry, over and over again.
But if I expand my perspective… not just to be open to small derailments or see Jesus in the beauty of a the world around me, but to completely alter the ultimate goal of my life, that’s when things really change. Saying “palms up” but still clinging to the timeline I created in a cabin in Lake Tahoe when I was 10 isn’t a real shift in perspective. That’s just an add-on to my plan. That’s like saying, “God, I am totally open to what you’ve got, but only if I still end up where I have set my course to go.” It’s silly and quite frankly, not leading me any closer to the heart of God. He wants all of me.
So to really change my perspective, my end-goal has to change. My life doesn’t get to be measured by Hallmark moments or big life events in the order I have contrived them. My end-goal, my whole life’s aim, my every decision has to be working towards knowing God and diving into His love.
This sounds like a nice theoretical goal, but it’s terrifying. It means looking at every other goal I have and tossing them aside– not because they won’t happen, but because they don’t get to be “goals” anymore.
In business, when you make a new strategy presentation you break it down into goals, objectives and tactics. Goals are the big overarching target you’re shooting at. Objectives are specific ways you’re hitting that goal – measurements of success. And tactics are the “how” of getting there.
Clearing my “goals” chalkboard off doesn’t mean none of them will happen. But it’s about reshaping their roles. God is my goal. Nothing else, because God was never made to share the spotlight. That doesn’t mean that things that used to be goals, like marriage or children or career, aren’t a part of the picture. But instead they become tactics. Let my marriage be used to get me towards the goal of acting more like the servant Jesus was. Let my children teach me more about the love and devotion of God the Father. Let my career be a vessel for me to carry the Holy Spirit in any situation.
- Do you feel you live each day saying “yes” to whatever God has? What do you do when what he has isn’t what you wanted or hoped for?
- What are things that have been goals in your life that need to be reassigned as tactics?
- What would it look like for you individually and us as a community to focus on God himself, with circumstances as tactics, instead of the other way around? (God being the tactic to get to our circumstance goals)
- What are areas in your life you might see differently if it was from God’s perspective rather than your own?