Some phrases stick with you. This morning I found myself thinking about one short sentence whose ten little words help me remember massive amounts of correct theology. God regularly uses its premise to correct my wrong thinking about Him and His ways.
A pastor I know once said this phrase, and I pass it on with hopes that its truth-encapsulating reminder, memorable because of its catchy-ness, will help you, too. He said this:
You have to get your but in the right place.
You have to get your but in the right place? What? What did he mean? Just this: that Christians approach painful moments of life in one of two distinctly different ways. We either say:
- I know God is sovereign and loving and good, but you don’t know my situation. Or, we say,
- My situation is really hard right now, but I know that God is sovereign and loving and good.
Can you hear the nuanced difference? The order of the two phrases within the sentence matters. Flip-flopping the phrases makes an entirely different sentence. And whether we say the sentence only to ourselves, or out loud in word or action, we must get our but in the right place. Of the two options, #2 evaluates life during a trial correctly, and only as we believe its words in the very depth of our being, do we flourish.
When we live in the world of #1, we dwell in anxiety and fear. We harbor bitterness and jealousy and resentment. We wallow in self pity or regret. We lash out. We implode. We turn to idols to shore up our needy heart, and we live with a really sad chip on our “I’ve been cheated” shoulder.
Believing in your depth of depths
Getting your but in the right place — believing in your depth of depths that God is all-powerful and all-loving and all-good toward you, no matter your current painful situation — results in freedom.
You’re freed from panic that you must control your out-of-control circumstances. You’re freed from loneliness and desolation in your painful situation — for you know that God has not pulled His steadfast love from you. You’re freed, even in the midst of the pain, to bask in your Father’s resolute love toward you.
Situations are still really hard … but
Yes, you still honestly say, “My situation is really hard right now!” But you don’t leave off the second phrase. You end your sentence with, “but God is sovereign and loving and good.” You’re freed when you believe in your depth of depths that, “No matter the pain of my current situation, God is over-seeing, from His eternal overflow of love and goodness, my circumstance.”
He sees it all. He knows it all. He has not left me alone.
When do you need the Holy Spirit to remind you of this, to change your mind and heart? I’ve needed Him to when:
- the desire of my heart was not met.
- she got the desire of my heart instead of me.
- a rejection, a disappointment, a tragedy I wasn’t sure I’d live through happened.
- fear of the future began to nip at my heart.
- worry for someone I love consumed my thoughts and prayers.
When we begin to teeter on the edge of “Yeah, I know God is sovereign and good, but you don’t know my situation,” we must cry out to our Father!
Warning flags and true transformation
- Pray for the ability to discern when the warning flag is waving — the flag warns that you’ve begun to head toward the slippery slope of self pity. You’ve begun to de-throne God in your pride (you know what would be right in your life, and He doesn’t). Pray He’d stop you when you’re falling toward #1.
- Remember, this is about Holy Spirit transformed belief. This is not about hunkered-down self control or mind control, apart from the Spirit. Ask your Father to guard your heart against the self-righteousness that would say, “Well, I always know God is in charge and I never complain. I’d never throw a pity party!”
- Practice over and over. Fight the inclination to believe the original lie from the Garden (Satan’s veiled, and then outright, “God has cheated me. He’s withholding from me!”) Listen to yourself throughout the day … are you believing #2 or #1?
- Fill your heart and mind, instead, with God’s thousands of promises to be sovereign and loving toward you. Rehearse the truths, and ask Him to stop you short at moments when you begin to get your but in the wrong place. Ask Him to transform your heart and mind, that you might believe #2. No matter what.
For to flourish as a Christian, and to honor our Lord in truth and action, we must get our but in the right place.