"For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait and hope and look for the Lord [in the end] shall inherit the earth." Psalm 37:9
During my morning reading of "My Utmost For His Highest" by Oswald Chambers I came across an interesting thought. In speaking about the importance of learning during the tests, "trials" and circumstances of life, Chambers pondered the thought that maybe what we are learning during those times is to "unlearn" what we already know.
Clearly in Psalm 37:9 David is continuing to distinguish between two perspectives. One perspective (the finite and worldly) states that getting the most out of this life at any cost (evil, deceit, etc...) is (and always has been) the social norm and those people will be cut off from God. The other perspective is that we need not fear our place and hardships in this life. The answer to true peace, joy and happiness (the state of being and not the emotion of being "happy") lie in trusting God, letting go of ourselves along with our desires, and living a life based on truth instead of emotion. We are being reminded that, "... those who wait and hope and look for the Lord [in the end] shall inherit the earth."
The American version of Christianity has been infiltrated by selfish thinking pawned off as "self-help". We are taught to trust in our savings accounts, IRA's, 401k's and Investments as our security. We are led to believe that life can truly be found in how comfortable we make ourselves. Many times it's much easier to thank God for what "He's given us" instead of waiting on His perfect plan for us. We are also led to believe that God is our version of "Aladdin" who grants our wishes and makes everything better (from our own finite perspective of what "better" even looks like). We've been fed motivating lines like "you can do anything you put your mind to!" or "if you just work hard enough you can obtain anything you want out of this life!" without proper perspective that this ability is a gift from God for His good to be done. We treat statements like those as if that they are the answers to what life is all about, pleasing ourselves and then thanking God that we've obtained our version of "heaven on Earth".
Now don't get me wrong, enjoying the fruits of ones labor, wonderful vacations, paying bills, saving money (not hoarding out of fear) and having a "nice" house are all GOOD things. But what we need to "unlearn" is that the habit or worldview of believing happiness, peace, contentment, joy and LIFE reside in a completely checked off list of the "To Do's" mentioned above (along with many other things we put on that list). Our true happiness lies in trusting that a life of abundance from an eternal perspective is found in following Jesus Christ. As Jesus clearly states in the gospels, "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?".
I read another quote by Madeleine L'Engle that I wanted to end with today. Her words really put this idea of "unlearning" into perspective. I want to note that we can just as easily become so "spiritual" that we forget we are also living in a "natural" world. In the midst of trusting the goodness of God we still manage to over-spiritualize things for our own sake and benefit. When we do this, we again make our own relationship with God about us and believe that if we please Him by forsaking "things" of this natural world He will somehow like us better. The thought of pleasing God in that fashion takes out the idea of His grace as we take on the Spiritual weight of proving ourselves to Him.
L'Engle states, "I would like to travel light on this journey of life, to get rid of the encumbrances I acquire each day. Worse than physical acquisitions are spiritual ones...that self which, coddled and cozened, becomes smaller as it becomes heavier. I don't understand how and why I come to be only as I lose myself, but I know from long experience that this is so."
We need to "unlearn" the theory that we will be fulfilled as obtain "bigger and better" things or that we have "made it" in life only if we cross off more "to do's". This is true in both the natural and spiritual life. The idea of unlearning is actually "addition by subtraction" as the Sports cliche says. Unlearning what we have been taught is "living" in exchange for the simplistic beauty of what God says is "living" is one of the truth's that allow us to trust God more deeply and eventually "...inherit the Earth".