Is God more like a-hyphen or a (parenthesis) in our lives?

While on vacation in the Colorado mountains, I will be entering posts more frequently and continue on with the theme of living under God’s influence. My wife wisely advises me to ditch the the-os in title because it confuses her (and likely you as well). Will try the(os) instead to see if that helps clarify. But I do owe any followers or readers at least some explanation of what this whole living under God’s influence theme actually means to me.
You see, before I became pastor dan I was therapist dan for 3 decades in which I worked quite hard to help people understand themselves better. As a therapist or clinical social worker, my aim was to help people see their problem in a new way that would make it more solvable for them than before. Understanding people, helping them understand themselves in a new and more practical or healthy and even happy way, is still important to me. I came to believe over the course of my 30 years in practice that everyone is living under some kind of influence. I don’t mean everyone is addicted to something, but for sure everyone’s life is driven under some influence. We’re all DUI victims of some sort until we learn to become DUI survivors. If that makes any sense to you.
My current role as pastor dan was made necessary by this core experience in my prior role as therapist. The healthiest and happiest any of us are ever going to get is when we learn to drive our own lives under God’s influence. God is love, and God’s wisdom comes to us not in the form of any external control (imagine a hand reaching down from heaven and moving us as puppets here and there) but rather an internal, spiritual influence. We become filled with love when living under God’s influence. Or, to borrow the Greek word for God, Theos influence. The influence we can choose to live under is the-os influence; make that the(os) influence.
To me there is an important connection between understanding ourselves better (psychology) and understanding God better (theology). And it may first help to understand this: God’s influence over our mind’s thoughts and body’s behaviors is much like a hyphen or, now at least, a parenthesis. God’s parenthetical influence is easy to miss. It’s a bit obscure and doesn’t quite fit with the world’s own influence that we’re otherwise driven under. Our choice to leave behind our experience as a DUI victim and become a DUI survivor under God’s empowering influence requires us to read inside the parenthesis, or the other side of the hyphen if you happen to prefer that.
Perhaps less confusing? I can only hope so.
What this means in terms of my future blogs is that I intend to help us all, myself included, better understand ourselves by better understanding God. God being the subtle force of love and wisdom that comes to us sometimes parenthetically, experienced not as control but rather as an influence. A common thread in all my posts will be the understanding that God is not in control over our lives if, by that term, we mean our human life of mind and body. God will never do our thinking and choosing for us. We choose our own thoughts, make up our own minds, and cause our own consequences. God is, however, in control over our souls. There he is sovereign in this world. Which means that living under God’s influence is when our minds choose to listen to our souls and tap into that spiritual wisdom from our higher power. It’s not easy. The physical world impacting our mind tends to speak in shouts of control. The spiritual world impacting our mind tends to speak in whispers of influence. We see the physical world but cannot lay eyes upon the spiritual world. So we are easily drawn to the former. The latter becomes something on the other side of the hyphen or within the following parenthesis. Life under the influence is easy. Life under the-os or the(os) influence is hard. Hard but worth it in terms of our own health and happiness. Hard but worth it in terms of the benefits of being survivors, not victims of DUI.
Next post will contain more of my thoughts about making the hard choice of living under God’s (higher power) influence easier in the future than it was in the past.

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