WEEKLY PREACHER’S POST: The Sanity Prayer – Reasonably Happy

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen.

What is my part and what is God’s part? My part involves: Acceptance, courage, acceptance (a second time), trust, surrender.  God’s part is: bestowing grace, providing wisdom, transformation of hardship into peace, and ultimately making all things right. The result of my cooperation with God is serenity, peace, reasonable happiness in this life, and supreme happiness in the life to come.

One wise sage said:  “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life—unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment…Perhaps the best thing of all for me is to remember my serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations.”
That’s been a lot for me to swallow, but I know in my heart of hearts that it is true. I came home last night riled up about a situation, which I realize an outside observer would find obviously predictable. But my expectation was that this time it would be different. I hadn’t intended to start writing this post last night, but had some time so I got started. And ran squarely into the Serenity Prayer and the truth that my serenity is directly tied to my acceptance of what is, and the surrender of my expectations.

I can hear a few of you saying to yourself, “That is a lazy way to live your life and lets us and other people off the hook for what they’re supposed to be doing or not doing.” What I am gradually coming to realize is that this is the harder way to live because ultimately I can’t blame anyone or anything on the outside for my internal peace and serenity. I will continue to strive for God’s best and be willing to put in the work, but ultimately the results are in God’s hands, not mine. At the end of each day, any serenity, and a reasonable level of happiness will be related to my letting go and letting God.

Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20) Once again, I find Eugene Peterson’s translation of Scripture inspired. This how he captures the gist of Paul’s thought: Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

When I read Psalm 23 with the surrender of Galatians 2:20 in one hand and the Serenity Prayer in the other, I see in an even deeper way the promise that God will do for me what I can’t do for myself as I trust God and accept life on life’s terms:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

This is the promise…
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen.
Hope to see you Sunday.
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