So, today is my official last day of school; I graded my last test, and recorded the grades, and I’m about to drop them off and be all done with school. Man, do I feel great! What a moment.

But, I don’t feel great for the reason that you probably expect. I don’t feel great just because I’m done with classes and exams and all of that. I feel great because I’m finally resting in Christ and living out Gospel peace.

All week, I’ve been stressed to the max; I’ve been edgy and uptight and, not surprisingly, I have not been resting in Christ. The end result was an ugly week so full of sin that it’s a miracle I survived. So, what was wrong? What was keeping me from the peace that God calls me to seek and pursue?

The answer is that I had been living under a burden of having to be perfect. I’ve lived my life this week assuming that I must do all the right things, and if I don’t, God will zap me . Practically what this meant was this: If I didn’t study perfectly, then I would fail one of my finals. If I failed one of my finals, I might fail the class. If I failed the class, then God would zap me by not allowing me and Jen to go to Japan. It’s as if I pictured God with a menacing scowl and a big whip raised over his head and, just waiting for me to mess up, and the moment I fail at anything, he gets really mad and says, “That’s it! No blessing for you!!!” and starts whipping me with menace and cruelty and fury.

Now somebody tell me, does that sound like freedom in Christ? Does that sound like Good News (i.e. ‘gospel’)? No way–that’s NOT the gospel, and it’s NOT the truth. That is a lie from the pit of hell, intended to deceive me and destroy my love for God and generally make my life miserable. The truth is that God is so loving and kind and compassionate toward me that He Himself took the punishment that I justly deserved upon Himself, just so He could be in relationship with me . He has showered my life with blessings: a wonderful wife that is beyond comparison, a college education and a bright future, good health, incredible friends, abundant food, material wealth, and a thousand other daily comforts and blessings. Every day, His mercies are before me; every day I see His love for me proved over and over again. How could I have been so blind as to miss all this?

This whole thing also shows what an idol that this opportunity in Funehiki has become to me. I simply couldn’t bear the thought of giving it up to God, because I was afraid of maybe losing it. So I grasped it tight, too tight. I wanted to control my life. But in the end all I did was to I forfeit my peace. I want to put God back in control of my life; it’s the only way my life will ever be liveable.

Will I ever get uptight and try to control my life again? Will I make idols out of good things and stress myself out at the thought of losing them? Will I continue to believe that lie about God? Probably, from time to time. But, my hope isn’t in what I’m doing, remember! It’s in Him. So I’m ok.