copyright Barb Harwood
Friday, April 21, 2017
Living Vicariously Through Our Very Own Lip Service
One dangerous habit that defined me back in the day of my early adulthood was that of living via my spoken-word future.
I would talk incessantly about what I was going to do. The more I talked, the more “it” superficially took shape: avenues of study at higher institutions, environmental causes I would embrace, animals I would save, books I would read, adventures I would take, stories I would write. Plans and more plans.
I lived in the present within the mind’s eye of tomorrow: next Friday, next week, next month, next year. Always tomorrow.
And therein lies the danger. I wasn’t living in reality. The years went by and I wondered why, on January first of every year, I felt morosely let down. I realized I had missed, once again, the future-bound train to anywhere-but-here, because that train only existed in my words.
If ever I did actually accomplish even one of the things I had talked about doing, it was never as satisfying or fulfilling as I had conjured it. I was Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, to whom Ellen, his wife, laments,
“It’s just that I know how you build things up in your mind, Sparky, you set standards that no family man can ever live up to.”
But instead of facing into—and accepting—that personal accomplishments (actual or fancied) are almost never internally life-changing or overly gratifying as imagined, I kept up the the verbal head tripping. And the more I spoke of goals and scenarios, the more the talking fashioned whatever identity I craved at the moment.
I could could temporarily fabricate just about any temperament, personality, and form of success merely through lip service. For a time, it worked to appease and bolster my inner esteem. I was a hamster on a wheel that I was sure would get me to my own personal Nirvana. But as we all know, those wheels don’t go anywhere but the place they’ve just been.
This pattern began to change only when I discovered my true identity: I didn’t have to create it, choose it, pose for it or act a part. It was there, in Christ, fleshed out in His Word.
Along with my newfound identity in Him came eventual affirmation in Him (I say eventual because it is a process of shedding a worldly need for people’s approval and compliments and allowing Christ alone to be our portion).
For the first time, I understood who and what I am: the positive and the negative. God through Christ’s Spirit showed me everything, and it was an honest assessment. Only then did I know what to do and when, and begin to actually do it. Only then did God begin to silence me.
The ability to take action in the transformation of one’s life when empowered by a sincere longing to please Christ is concrete and real. True regeneration and redemption is possible because Christ Himself is the transformer.
We no longer have need of lip service; we live in Him and His Word, which is given to all who ask, seek and knock (Matthew 7:7). Our words now become inwardly transparent prayers to God.
That is how we get off the dead-end treadmill of talk and onto the active path of new life in Christ.
“For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God.” Ecclesiastes 5:7
“Then Job replied to the LORD:
‘I know that you can do all things;
no plan of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.’” Job 42:1-6
“From the LORD comes deliverance...” Psalm 3:8a