Everything. Not only the beginning of our world, in Creation. But the way we live our lives and view our personhood.
How you brush your teeth in the morning. Whether you brush your teeth every morning. The color of summertime grass. The density of structural concrete. How long your commute to work took this morning. And your commute home this evening. Whether you even have a job. Or not.
Remember, all of these things start with God. How they end up is, in some grand theological mystery, due in part to the decisions, mistakes, and wisdom that you and I bring to our little patches of reality.
Yet how often do we get seduced into thinking that our actions towards every event in life are more important that the One Who set it all in motion to begin with? Whose sovereignty keeps it all controlled even today, even if our definition of control isn't His?
It's about at this spot where reformed theology becomes important, because I don't believe that any of us chooses Christ. God chooses us. Otherwise, God wouldn't be sovereign, would He?
And if God isn't sovereign, He's not the center of our universe.
Not that many of us remember that He is anyway, while we go about our daily lives. How often to we try and hammer little nuggets of God and His truth into our lives only when it's convenient, or helpful, or absolutely necessary, like in times of crisis?
Instead, shouldn't our lives - every bit of them - be flowing from His truth, His laws, His provision for our salvation, His plan for our sanctification, His promise of the Holy Spirit, and His eternal Kingdom?
I'm not talking about simply trying to fit Sunday church into your schedule. Or volunteer service opportunities.
We know we're not supposed to plan stuff and then ask God to bless it. But don't we spend an awful lot of time and energy living life with our holy Savior being an afterthought, an addendum, a pesky prickler of conscience, or an ambivalent go-with-the-flow kinda fun-loving Guy?
"Oh sure, it's all good!"
The older I get, and the more I realize how ill-equipped I am to live my life despite a college education and an otherwise proper middle-class upbringing in the world's greatest nation, the more I value the perspective of self-denial (Luke 9:23) and a lifestyle of permeating worship.
Not the singing and praying and sermonizing of Sunday morning liturgies, but cultivating a God-centric action plan for the way I think and act that recognizes the His primacy and truth in all of Creation.
Not even in some big, heady intellectual exercise or browbeating no-fun asceticism. Granted, what God has purposed for our good won't always jive with what our culture says is good, and some onlookers to my life may figure I'm a pretty dull, bitter, deprived individual.
Yet to the extent that I don't focus my lifestyle on the culture around me, won't I be better able to remind myself of the things I know and am supposedly still learning about God and what His intentions and gifts are?
Something like "where my treasure is, there my heart will be also?" (Matthew 6:21)
Don't think I'm pontificating on something I've mastered. Or that since I'm further along in this lifelong exercise than you might be, I figure I'm qualified enough to slap you upside your head for not doing as good a job at this as I'm doing. None of us will master this before we get to Heaven, and after that, I'm not sure it will matter, since we'll physically be with God. And who knows how much further along I am in this journey than you or anybody else - and how many other people are even much further along than both of us put together.
It's a race that we run, yes, but we're not competing against each other. We're competing against a culture that the Devil hopes will seep into our souls. Yet how often is it easier to just flow with the culture downstream, when we're supposed to be going upstream? Pegging our journey in sanctification to the culture around us doesn't give an accurate reading of our progress. We're supposed to be pegging our journey in sanctification on Christ and His perfection.
Which doesn't change, like our culture does.
Indeed, the more I read, watch, hear, and experience religious stuff at church, online, in books and magazines, and even those few times when I make a stab at sharing my faith, I become increasingly cognizant of how cluttered our thinking has become in North America's evangelical community. Cluttered, and distracted, and many times downright mis-directed. It's like we're looking back at God along this journey, when we're supposed to be looking forward to Him.
Which is another grand paradox to the Gospel, too, isn't it? Everything starts with God.
Yet He is our leader, the One to Whom we look towards.
Kinda reminds me of the old benediction, "Go with God."
Go! With God.