What does it look like to embrace our best lives? The world throws so much our way, and the "paths to happiness" come in wide varieties. With all these options and pressures, it's tempting to live in my feelings and see where I end up. The issue is I need a foundation for integrity. When I make choices because they're easy, exciting, or popular, I land in confusion. Where do I find my compass? At every turn, I look to God. His Word tells me what I need to hear, even when it's not what I want to hear. At the same time, He provides me with comfort, empowerment, and empathy.
You might have questions like, "Will God keep me from fully enjoying life?" or "Could I have more freedom if I stopped caring about what God says?" I've been there, and I'd like to explain why the answer is a resounding "No."
A functional society requires boundaries. I need a set of "dos" and “don'ts" to succeed. Thinking for myself doesn't mean making things up as I go; it means evaluating which values are the truth. I have faith in God because I've seen Him in my life, and I trust the Bible because of its extraordinary, consistent evidence. The principles of the Bible make sense in tangible ways once I actually apply their relevance. I see the negative impact when I don't follow God's guidance, which encourages me to listen to Him even when I don't understand why. I could pursue the same principles on my own, but I would fall flat without the example, forgiveness, and purpose of Jesus. I need that grace and truth to lead me forward rather than getting pulled by the many directions of the world.
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” - 1 Corinthians 10:13
The craving for input is a driving human instinct. It sometimes feels like my mind is a big suction machine searching for something to devour. No matter how much I learn, entertain myself, or do new things, I still have times of internal emptyness. That is when I realize the difference Jesus makes. Everything material can turn into a destructive habit or become obsolete. He won't. Filling my mind with God eases my anxiety about things I can't change. What I can control is how I place my trust in God. It's a challenge, but I am able to break free from the lies of consumption when I gain momentum from God's promises.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” - Philippians 4:8
One thing I absolutely know when I read the Bible is that God has always wanted us to experience joy. He didn't create us for a superficial, passing feeling but for all-consuming joy. Evil led us away from that joy, and now we also know darkness. Sin causes pain, and pain pushes us to sin. When I look at the things God tells me not to do, they stem from pain. Why would I hurt someone? Because of anger. Why would I lie? Because of fear that things won't work out the way I want. Why would I turn from purity? Because I want to feel good, seek validation, or doubt my future for a healthy relationship. The reasons not to do these things are obvious, but I only grasp self-control when I focus on what to do instead. When I look outside of myself and love others, I experience meaning greater than my inner conflicts. I rise above harmful strongholds when I open myself to the joyful experiences God has in store.
No one who has read the Bible can call it a list of "no-nos." It is a continuous story of God's love, which shows abundant ways for us to produce good, despite the struggles we will face. It is far from a book of fear but is all about overcoming and embracing the life God gives us. Here are just a few of the many verses expressing God's will for our good:
Romans 8:28Psalm 32:8Jeremiah 9:24Jeremiah 29:112 Timothy 3:16Psalm 19:7-9
Because of God's direction, I don't have to constantly overthink how my decisions could turn out or if I'm doing the right thing. Of course, the Bible doesn't directly address some issues, but I can pray for peace about my choices and find rejuvenation when things don't go how I plan. I don't have to know it all because I rely on God, and He has the best for my future. And when I mess up, He won't toss me aside but will call me back to remind me I'm wonderfully made to do great things. When I place my hope in following Jesus, that is when I enjoy my life more than I ever see coming.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.