August 21, 2022
Welcome back to my Precepts series—inspired by meaningful thoughts, insights, and discoveries I have during each week, and intentionally designed to help make your life just a little bit better. I recently read the classical spiritual adventure story Beyond Ourselves by Catherine Marshall, and was inspired to share many of my thoughts and notes with you in today's special article, which contains Precepts developed directly from her book. Enjoy!
You can find the Precepts series in its entirety here.
Precept 38: 12 Steps Of Transformation
In the last set of Precepts, I described the “simplicity” of salvation. In Beyond Ourselves, Catherine Marshall does a great job outlining the actual steps to a more full spiritual transformation after one has been saved. The first seven steps, really, are the process of salvation. The rest are what occurs after that.
- You admit helplessness in one or more specific areas of your life.
- You believe that there is a power greater than yourself.
- You make a decision to turn your life over to the care of God.
- You make a searching and fearless internal inventory of yourself.
- You admit to God, to yourself, and to another human being(s) the exact nature of your wrongs.
- You proclaim that you are ready for God to change you, clean you, and forgive your shortcomings.
- You humbly ask Him to do so.
- You make a list of all the people you may have harmed, and you become willing to make amends to them all (note: all your guilt and shame is now left at the foot of the cross, so your predominant emotion here and your motivation for writing past wrongs is love and empathy, not guilt and shame).
- You make direct amends to such people when possible, when to do so would not injure them or others.
- At intervals throughout the year (e.g. each day, week, or month), you continue to take personal inventory, and when you are wrong or have done wrong, promptly admit it and repent of it.
- Through daily prayer and meditation, you continue to seek to improve your conscious contact with God, praying for the knowledge of His will for your life and for all the power to carry it out.
- You try to carry this message of hope and salvation to others and to practice these principles in all your affairs.
I recommend you read that list one or two more times, slowly. It is simple. It is free. It is truly transformative and will make you feel as though an enormous burden has been lifted from your back.
Precept 39: Trust
Though we live in a logical, materialistic, scientific era, we still operate on a day-to-day basis under some semblance of a banner of faith. Each time we eat a meal in a restaurant, we trust some unknown cook behind the scenes and eat that food with the faith that it is not contaminated. We enter a hospital for an operation and sign a release giving permission for surgery. This is an act of faith in an anesthetist whose name we may not even know and a surgeon who holds in his hands the power of life or death. We accept a prescription from a doctor and take it to a pharmacist, acting on faith that the pharmacist will fill the prescription accurately.
Those are just a few examples, but it is quite obvious that if we were to insist on “proof first, faith second” in our daily lives, organized life as we know it would grind to a screeching halt. Just imagine if every time you got into the car, you had to have someone climb under your car to prove to you that, say, the brakes were properly engaging. Since our lives are really only possible when we have great amounts of faith and trust in other people (or machines, or robots, or computers, etc.), it should not seem odd that the same law should apply to our life with God.
Faith in God is simply trusting Him enough to step out on that trust.
The adventure of living has not really begun until you begin to stand on your “faith legs” (as Catherine calls them in her book) and – for yourself, for your home, for your family, for your health, for your business, and for your world – begin to trust God fully and place the reigns of your life into His hands, engaging in what another of my favorite authors, John Eldredge, refers to as “benevolent detachment,” which involves waking each day and proclaiming, “God, I turn everyone and everything over to you.” I teach you more about that, and how to trust more here, here, and here.
Precept 40: Crickets
If you actually carve out time to pay attention, to engage in spiritual disciplines such as silence and solitude, and to listen for God's still small voice in the silence, somewhere deep in your spirit, beyond the reach of scientific probing and measuring, there is a place where God can impress upon your inner conscience a kind of subtle and sometimes quite obvious knowing: often experienced as an inner voice, a profound thought, a firm direction or a realized solution. God is in charge of and knows everything. He loves you and wants to be your close father and friend. So that means sometimes these thoughts can often be related to seemingly mundane tasks, such as “Don't put that in the dishwasher,” or “Read that book,” or “Don't take the highway to work today.”
Such “random” occurrences make me wonder whether God does not, more often than we know, act to save us from potential accidents or disasters in life, or at least act to provide us with more direction than we may think we're actually getting. Problem is, many of us do not practice the art of listening to that inner voice, especially when it comes to small everyday matters. Sure it may seem like it's just some cute lil' Jiminy Cricket conscience bug squeaking in your ear, but in reality, it could be the voice of God directing your path. Because we are often not tuned in, we often miss these inner messages.
Still, maybe sometimes it isn't the voice of God and is just the cheese you ate last night, the words of a song ringing in your ear, or the result of some pill you just popped. In her book, Catherine recommends four “tests” through which to check the reality and wisdom of this inner voice: that of seeking wisdom from the Bible, asking for the advice of trusted friends who are also seeking God’s leading, paying attention to the circumstances or fruits of that decision or previous similar decisions, and finally, applying to our own discernment and judgment, what she calls “sanctified common sense.”
If a strong inner suggestion is from God, it will often strengthen with the passing of time. If it is not, in a few days or weeks, it will often fade or disappear entirely. Ultimately, do not rule out God’s help with even the small details of life. After all, “how you live your days is how you live your life,” and each of these small details eventually makes up the totality of your life. After all, if you do not “let” God into your everyday life, you may not be equipped to hear His voice or heed His intervening calls when crisis strikes.
That's it for this week! If you have questions, comments, or feedback below, please leave your thoughts. I read them all!