Are You Trying to Make Life Work?

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love
him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Rom. 8:28

Some folks just love math. I have a friend who says she loves the predictability and patterns in it. Chaos and surprises—even good ones—can put her on edge. She loves schedules, lists, and formulas. They make her feel safe. Regrettably, she says she’s spent most of her life with very little, if any, sense of adventure. Things could get out of control…

I have known folks who actually see life as a complex equation and God as the magic ingredient in all of life’s formulas. They even discover “little formulas” in scripture: Gratitude + patience = joy; Prayer + faith = healing; and Giving + joy = God’s favor—foolproof guarantees from God Himself on how to be happy, be blessed, and avoid disaster!

Who can resist promises like that? Soon these little formulas can carry over into everything, and suddenly we expect life to work like math: “Work hard + good job + tithe + God’s blessing = financial security; or Prayer + Bible study + obedience = God’s protection and blessings. All I have to do is discover the right formula!”

I know it seems so crazy, but it’s actually an easy trap to fall into. When life doesn’t turn out like we expect, like the picture we have in mind, we just work harder to control the variables or change the formulas—sure we’ll eventually get the problem fixed. Eventually disappointment and frustration can well up into depression, resentment and rage. We may even progress to reason, “Since I can’t seem to make things work, and math always works, it must be the people in my life who are messing things up.” We decide they’re the “variables” that need tweaking. Then we become manipulative, desperately trying to get things under control before they completely fall apart. What we really create with all our formulas is a big formula for disaster! And this is exactly where my good friend found herself one day:

“Thank goodness I finally came to the end of myself and realized I had made a mess of it all. I needed a savior. Not a once when I was a little girl or when I was 16 and got baptized kind of savior, but a Lover of My Soul—everyday kind of Savior! I was lost, desperate and broken.


Late in my 30’s, as a pastor’s wife and working mom, I gave up. I quit trying to make life work, to fix everything. God opened my eyes to my destructive and controlling behaviors, and He set me free. He lifted my burden and used some wonderful people in my life to teach me how to love freely and accept love, how to dream and be adventurous, how to approach each day, not with a steadfast plan for success, but with curiosity and a sense of awe. They taught me how to pursue God and experience His incredible love And love me He did…and does.
When I quit spending my time doing the ‘Christian thing’ and started spending time with Christ, He began transforming me, healing me, opening my eyes. I learned that walking with Jesus is not ‘safe’, but I can trust Him. I learned that the unexpected can be absolutely wonderful. Chaos can be quite entertaining. This world is messy, with very few guarantees, but I have a Savior who willingly and lovingly works all things for good. I learned that God works ‘outside the box’. His blessings are ‘just because’, His grace is free, His security is eternal, and His peace passes understanding. No formulas, just love.”


Let’s quit trying to arrange life and trust God for our security. He loves us, has a plan for us, and wants to give us real peace.

The Power of Truth:

  • “Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:30 (MSG)
  • “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Suggestion for Prayer:

Approach Jesus with curiosity and awe. Trust Him to manage your life.