Not too long ago I threw up in a very public place. In front of a lady. She is a member of our church. Boom. It is sometimes easier for me to filter the bigger crises in my life through biblical theology, than it is the smaller inconveniences and embarrassments. For example, if someone steals my car, I think-- "God is sovereign and will provide." When my family suffers, I think-- "God is good and is doing something here." My theology orients me to the circumstances, like it's supposed to. But if I lose my car keys, fall down the stairs (in public, of course), spill my coffee all over the place in Starbucks, or puke in front of a church member, my theology often evaporates and I am left alone to merely balk, complain, or become frustrated.
These small moments have become opportunities for a serious disconnect in my theology that allows me to react to my circumstances without responding to God who has orchestrated these very events of my life. This is no small problem. It means that I function more like a Christian when the occasional crisis hits, but more like an atheist when the much more common annoyances bump up against me. Maybe the impact in each moment is dramatically different, but over time the accumulation of my atheistic responses to life's smaller frustrations leads to a deformity in my piety.
How might God be glorified if I responded to him in the midst of my ever-so-common annoyances instead of reacting blindly to the circumstances themselves. How much more happiness and peace would I experiences in life if I allowed my theology to embed itself so deeply in me that I could truly see all things working together for my good and glory of God?
This was something God was pressing on me throughout last week when I was walking through a winding path of trivial trials. Nothing big, just a lot of small things "going wrong." It became clear that I needed to address this disconnect between my theology and my experience. I needed to not just know, but really experience that this is the day that God has made for me. He has made it for me to draw near to him, learn humility from him, dependance on him, and to reflect his beauty in my responses to all I walk through.
Maybe you've experienced this as well. Here is how I am addressing the problem.
Preaching to Myself. What has proven to be the most helpful method for making an experiential connection between my doctrine and my life is to spend time in the Scripture in the morning, uncover the truth of God in the given passage, and then preach this truth to myself (something I'll be writing a lot about in the future). This "message" is something I carry with me throughout the day, and it is always amazing at how relevant these truths are to what I and other are going through on that day, or during that week.
Good Books. I have also found a great help in books and sermons. For example Vital Godliness by William Plumer, Holiness by Bishop J.C. Ryle, and Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit by Matthew Henry are just a few of the books used by God for my growth in this area. Recently, I have been helped by The Soul of Life (selections from Calvin's writings), A Gospel Primer for Christians, and A Praying Life.
Good Examples. And finally I need to feed off of the growth in others' lives. I need to pay attention to the words of my brothers and sisters in Christ to see how they are experiencing God in the details of life. I'm thankful for godly friends, the elders at Redeemer and the people who make up our church. In them I see God at work, and I know they are finding God in things big and small.