Patterns are necessary. They make life and take life, and are responsible for everything else in between. Patterns cannot be escaped; they are at the heart of nature, politics, mathematics, music, business, science, government, law, religion, art, architecture, fashion, medicine, weather, education, language, decoration, entertainment, technology and any kind of production process.
I personally love patterns - I see them in the words on a book page, or the colors in a painting, the numbers on the clock or the notes in a song. And as such a lover of patterns to my eyes and ears, I find myself looking for anomalies, hiccups in the patterns, spaces where a pattern ought to be consistent and it isn’t. The eye cannot help but search for patterns, and an anomaly can easily be identified when repetition is the norm. All creation expects repetition and is wary of anomaly.
OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN
And yet, though we can rarely admit it, as a whole, humanity is controlled by our own affair with repetition. We experience something we like, and therefore we expect it to continue. We endure a painful or traumatic event, but we need it to stop and NOT continue.
And as strong and necessary is our reliance on patterns in this world, they are also our downfall. The worst instances of patterns in our world are human habits, which include obsession and destruction, but especially selfishness. Slavery, addiction, apathy, abuse, murder, neglect, entitlement, control, violence, lying, adultery, theft, bullying, and the like. All the things that make humans dangerous to each other and awful creatures are due to patterns... in behavior. Humans describe themselves as “creatures of habit,” and this reflects the truth more than we’d like to admit. We are destroying ourselves and each other through repetition of destructive patterns, and as a whole, humanity is aware that we are hurtling quickly toward our own immense destruction and we choose not to alter the course, - we choose to change nothing. This kind of idiocy is in each of us. We scrutinize and belittle others for their poor choices, and we struggle with our own consequences of the same origins. We refuse to take responsibility for our actions - or inactions - instead, blaming someone or something else and never facing the reality of our own demise.
THE HEART PROBLEM
And what is the ultimate cause? Our own hearts are the problem. As written in the history of Israel, the only nation that has continually existed since the days of ancient Egypt, humanity admits that the problem is US. WE are the source of our own downfall and misery. “This is what the Lord says:
The warrior who is destined for destruction (cursed) is the one who relies on humanity for spiritual protection, who places his eternal hope in the temporary, and whose heart is turned to any way but God’s.” (Jeremiah 17:5) The author continues: “When it comes to dethroning (overthrowing, undermining), the human heart is the worst thing in existence; there is no cure. This is beyond comprehension.”
This attitude too has become a pattern, so much so that at one point, “When the Lord saw that human wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time, the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was deeply grieved.” (Genesis 6:5-6 CSB) God Himself mourned the future of humanity and our world because we had enslaved ourselves to patterns of destruction.
So what can be done? Are we destined for destruction no matter what? Can this issue ever be rectified? As long as you, the Reader, choose to do your own thing, day in and day out, as long as you make the decision to continue the pattern of your own choices instead of moving as God directs for each and every step, you continue the pattern that is keeping you in slavery, misery and hopelessness. You see no future because you have none. I have met countless “Christians” or “believers” or “lovers of God” who know nothing of a life that seeks and follows God through every single step. And as you read this, Reader, do not for one second think that you and I are exempt. As much as you may hope that you are following “the best you can,” that will never be enough. Do not make excuses for your choosing comfort over challenge.
And yet... as patterns enslave us, they also are the key to freedom. All humanity is subject to a pattern, a program, a continual series of only three weak points, three “Achilles heels” that will render us useless to God if we allow them to control us:
1) cravings of the body (bodily needs) "Lust of the Flesh"
2) cravings of the eyes (what you see and determine you want / must have) "Lust of the Eyes"
3) pure & simple pride (importance of self) "Pride of Life"
(1 John 2:16)
These are the areas that we just cannot protect against attack, no matter what we do. Every time we fail to achieve perfection (and fail to meet God’s standards), it’s because one of these three things has taken us down. And each of these weaknesses is an aspect of the real problem: SELFISHNESS. Just today I started an argument because I had to be right. I. HAD. TO. MAKE. MY. POINT. And what did it get me? Another life lesson. Another learning moment. Another opportunity to shove my pride and put someone else first. Another experience that proves that everything is not about ME.
Remember the quote stating how the warrior is destined for destruction because he does what HE wants instead of what God wants? That was only the first of two contrasting points. Here’s what NOT to do, and now here’s what TO DO instead. So what did the author determine? Is there a cure for this terminal diagnosis?
“The warrior whose security and confidence is in God alone - he will prosper (is blessed).”
It is the rare human who stands out as an anomaly in the pattern, the occasional “free thinker” who, as Wikipedia states, “raises suspicions by differing significantly from the expected or majority.”
When everyone else is stuck in ruts or contained within comfortable cages, there are a few who choose to “walk among the gravestones” and rise out of the hopelessness. God is rising up these “flukes,” these anomalies. Eyes are being opened and minds are awakening - choices are being made to follow God completely, regardless of risk.
It’s not easy to follow wholeheartedly. It’s rare to see it in action, and even rarer to meet it in person. And yet it exists, and the revolution is beginning. We are on the cusp of revival, of waking the sleepers, the ones who have the truth but they never let it set them free. Guess what! Now’s the time!
So... now that you’re aware that things are changing, and you’ve had opportunities to change your ways, and may even now be struggling with making changes you know are necessary, WHAT WILL YOU DO? Please don’t choose the same old same old, because it’s a guarantee of misery. Things will NEVER get better on their own.
Here’s a thought: when your stomach is grumbling from hunger, how can you fix it? The only way is for YOU to EAT. You must find the food, prepare the food for consumption (if needed) and then chew up and swallow the food in order for your hunger to be satisfied. There is work involved, however simple. And you must do it again and again - you will continue to need constant nutrition until your body dies. It’s the same thing when the hunger in you is for fulfillment. Until you are fully consumed with Your Creator and the purpose for which you were created, you will be miserable. If you disagree, you’re lying to yourself.
I’ve seen and experienced much more than I ever expected to- and through this experiential knowledge I now recognize “things I never knew I never knew.” God has opened my eyes and heart to a flood of fulfillment because I finally let Him lead me. Every day is a world of opportunities to trust Him completely for every step, and to follow Him into the unknown. He provides, and almost never in the ways I anticipate. He directs me to speak or move or wait, and my ultimate purpose is to trust Him and do as He directs. He has NEVER, I mean NEVER, let me down. As I heard it said last Sunday, God provides us with experiences of His trustworthiness so that we can remember it when we are up against a rock and a hard place; this assures us that as long as He is our security and we invest everything that we are and everything that we have in Him, we are beyond secure and He will always take care of us.
There are many times when our family has no recourse, no food, no funds to guarantee where we will spend the night, no response within the community that obviously needs our services, and there are times we have no human help. I have learned that in order to survive those times, the old pattern must be broken. The old way of thinking says “I’ve gotta figure this out myself!” or “The world will end if __________ happens!” But the anomaly in me recognizes a pattern: “Wait- if God has been consistently providing and working things out, THAT’S the pattern I’m going to follow!”
If I were to write a self-help book, I‘d guarantee that the process I lay out is 100% effective, every time, no matter what. As long as the steps are followed, there is absolutely no way to fail. I’ll even share the secret with you, right here and right now:
TRUST GOD and OBEY HIS DIRECTION. EVERY DAY, ALL DAY LONG.
Yep, it’s that simple. But by no means is it easy. Living this way is the scariest transition in the world, and yet it is the most fulfilling and hopeful mindset in existence. It’s not complicated, but it’s multifaceted. It’s the simplest way of thinking compared to everything around us. And yet it’s also the least popular - its 100% success rate doesn’t rank on the world’s scale of “success” (AKA immediate reward) but it sure works wonders for those following God wholeheartedly. It takes a while to switch over to new thinking patterns but when it finally clicks, it CLICKS.
There is absolutely nothing better than having a close personal friendship with the One who created you. It’s unlike anything else. But don’t take my word for it - find out for yourself. If He’s the one you’re truly seeking, you’ll find Him. We’re not talking about things you want or wealth you desire. No utopian ideas for the world we always wanted. When it’s JUST HIM you want more than anything in this world, THAT’S what we’re talking about. No guarantees except MORE OF HIM. It’s a stretch, especially as Americans in a nation privileged from birth.
When we desire nothing but HIM, this leaves Him enormous opportunity to reach our hearts and clean us out for His purposes. He promised:
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:9-11, 13 CSB)
What patterns in your life need to change? What is God asking you to do that you’re not doing? Where are you moving AGAINST God instead of WITH Him? Where is fear paralyzing you? If you cannot answer these questions with confidence, START ASKING HIM FOR THE ANSWERS. This is crucial to those patterns changing. You cannot hope to change what you don’t know about (or won’t admit to!) because change is a choice. Will you accept it and trust your every step to the God who orchestrates the Universe, or will you continue to blindly walk on, tripping over yourself?
It’s your choice.