FormulasI have a friend who says she loves the predictability and patterns in math. Many guys I know are like this gal. Chaos and surprises — even good ones — can put her on edge. Schedules, lists, and formulas make her feel safe.

Many like her approach life as a complex series of formulas with God as the key variable. They live by little formulas like: Gratitude + patience = joy; Prayer + faith = healing; and Giving + joy = God’s favor. They claim these formulas as ironclad recipes from God Himself on how to be happy, blessed, and free from disaster!

Soon these little formulas 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. Just discover the right formula for success!

Living life by formula is an easy trap to fall into. When life doesn’t turn out like we expect, eventually disappointment and frustration can well up into resentment and disillusionment. What we really create with all our formulas for living is a 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 — an 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 does!

When I quit spending my time doing “Christian things“ 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.

Scripture Reading: Philippians 1:12–14

Personal Application

To what extent can you relate to my friend and living by formulas?

Let’s abandon our formulas and live the adventurous life of faith in Jesus Christ!

Jim Grassi image and signature  Jim Grassi, D. Min.

We cherish any verse in Scripture that reminds us to keep focused and intentional about evangelism and discipleship. “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5