EP42: It Ain’t Me (The 96% Solution)
When it comes to the best things that have happened in my life, 24 out of the top 25 were not directly and completely the result of my own efforts. That leads to only one reasonable conclusion: it ain’t me producing those results…
It Ain’t Me
It’s funny how some songs stick with you.
For me, one of those songs is It Ain’t Me Babe.
The song was written by Bob Dylan in 1964, and Johnny Cash released a version of the song a year later, in 1965, but the version of the song I love the most was from a band called The Turtles, who released their take on the song in 1965 as well.
Here are the opening lyrics:
Go away from my window
Leave at your own chosen speed
I’m not the one you want, babe
I’m not the one you need
You say you’re lookin’ for someone
Who’s never weak but always strong
To protect you and defend you
Whether you are right or wrong
Someone to open each and every door
But it ain’t me babe
No, no, no, it ain’t me babe
It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe
I’m Not in Control
I think one of the reasons I like that song so much is because it reminds me of one of the most powerful, liberating truths inherent in the Christian existence, which is this: It ain’t me.
What I mean by that is that is that it’s not me who ultimately determines the outcomes of the various things that happen in my life.
If that’s true – and I absolutely believe that it is – that means we don’t have to stress over every decision, challenge, problem or dilemma that we routinely face as a normal part of this thing called life.
Let’s assume you don’t believe that.
Because, if you’re like most people, you probably don’t.
You may have read “it’s not me who ultimately determines the outcomes of the various things that happen in my life” and stopped reading.
Or maybe you laughed out loud.
Or maybe you thought, “Wow, this guy is a complete idiot.”
Or maybe you did all three.
Thanks in Advance for Humoring Me for Just a Sec
For just a moment – no matter how ridiculous this may seem – I would ask you to humor me and to suspend your disbelief and your skepticism.
For just a moment.
As long as it takes you to read the rest of this, which won’t take long.
I respectfully and sincerely ask you to pump the brakes on your cynicism, and to stop and think about what it would be like if there really was some higher power watching over your life and actually intervening and interceding and working out everything – whether it felt like it at the time or not – for your good.
Can you imagine how much stress that would take off of you?
Can you imagine how much more relaxed you would be?
Can you imagine how much more joy you’d experience?
What the Source Doc Says
Of course, in terms of God’s ability to determine every outcome in your life, I’m not asking you to take my word for it. Here are a few scriptures from the Bible in support of that thought:
Proverbs 21:31: “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.”
Proverbs 16:33: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”
Romans 8:28: “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.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8: “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
There are many more examples of this idea – the idea that God ultimately determines every outcome – within God’s Word. I chose these four illustrations simply because they were the ones that occurred to me first, from memory.
Please Don’t Misunderstand
Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying here.
I am not suggesting that our efforts don’t have any effect on what happens in our lives.
Of course they do.
What I am saying is that the same God who created the universe and everything in it (Genesis 1:1) can override, reverse, correct, alter, undo, annul, amend, rebuild, restructure and adjust anything and everything that happens in our lives.
That is to say…
…when things don’t work out…
…when we fail…
…when we think we have lost something truly important to us…
God can still get involved and rectify the situation, no matter how impossible things may appear from our human perspective.
Stuff God Can Do (That Most of Us Can’t)
Further, as it relates to what we can do in our own lives vs. what God can do, we are so limited. As examples:
I can’t do “all things,” but God can (Mathew 19:26).
As one person, I can’t rout a thousand of my enemies, but God can (Joshua 23:10).
I can’t do more than I can even imagine, but God can (Ephesians 3:20).
I can’t defeat an enemy that outnumbers me by 450:1, but God can (Judges 7).
I can’t bring down the walls of a city, but God can (Joshua 6).
I can’t defeat three opposing armies by causing them to attack one another, but God can (2 Chronicles 20).
I can’t part a sea, but God can (Exodus 14).
I can’t cause the sun to stand still for a full day, but God can (Joshua 10).
I can’t create an earthquake to release someone from prison, but God can (Acts 16:25-28).
I can’t protect myself from being burned alive after being thrown into a fiery furnace, but God can (Daniel 3).
I can’t kill a heavily armored giant with a slingshot and a stone, but, with God’s help, I can (1 Samuel 17).
When I am worried about something, I typically can’t experience peace, but, with God’s help, I can (Philippians 4:6-7).
The Bible has a lot more to say with respect to all the things God can do vs. the limited things we humans can do, but you hopefully get the point.
My Personal Experiences
Of course, God’s Word trumps anything I could possibly tell you, but – even though that is true – I still feel compelled to share this with you.
I keep track of the things I consider “blessings” in my life.
My definition of a blessing is simply something really good that happened to me.
Behind me, as I write this in my office, there is a 4’ by 3’ whiteboard, and, on that whiteboard – starting in the upper left corner and extending down and to the right – there are 4” by 3” heavy-stock sticky Post-its. Each one of those Post-its contains a summary of one of those blessings.
Things like receiving an award, or some larger public recognition, from someone or some organization to whom I had no direct connection.
Or coming out of a situation that could have killed me – like totaling a motorcycle after T-boning a deer at 60 mph – almost completely unscathed.
Or having a large influx of cash fall into my lap from nowhere right when I needed it to save me from financial disaster.
Or having a pet miraculously healed by a receptionist at an emergency vet clinic, before we could even get into to see the veterinarian.
Or winning an all-expenses paid trip for me and three of my friends to attend the Final 4 NCAA college basketball tournament.
Or having my office wiped out by a sprinkler malfunction, which destroyed literally everything except for the handful of really valuable things that were in that office.
Or having a state police officer let me go without so much as a warning after being pulled over going 25 mph over the speed limit and after admitting that I had been drinking.
Or having a friend (who was told he was ineligible for a heart transplant because of his age and because of how near death he was, and who did not believe in God or in prayer), after I insisted on praying for him, then almost immediately have a series of freak circumstances play out that resulted in him receiving a new heart just a couple of weeks later, after he had just been told the odds of him ever receiving a transplant were virtually zero.
There are many more of these illustrations I can share, but I wanted to give you some examples of the things that have actually happened in my small, insignificant life.
The 96% Solution
To the point, I analyzed what I consider to be the top 25 blessings that have happened in my life.
And, of those 25, 24 of them involved something happening beyond my control.
That’s 96%, if you’re keeping score.
In other words, 96% of the very best things that have happened to me in my life were not the direct result of something I did.
To be honest, before writing this post, I had never done that analysis.
I thought the percentage would be high, but not THAT high.
Wow. Even I’m in a little bit of shock over this.
Not Saying That… Am Saying This
To be clear, I am not saying that I had nothing to do with what happened in each of those scenarios (although in a few of those cases, that actually was the case).
What I am saying is that there was some key element or aspect in each of those situations that was entirely beyond my control.
And that is where God does what He does: in those spaces beyond our control.
What caused that police officer to let me go when he should have taken me to jail?
Who lined up all the insane events that had to happen for my friend to get a new heart?
Who allowed me to nearly fully recover in just a few months after totaling my motorcycle so badly that my helmet looked like it had been attacked by a psychopath with a pickaxe?
God vs. Random Chance
If you’re a non-believer, I understand that you’re probably thinking, “Those are just random, freak occurrences.”
You probably believe I am attributing to God what actually should be attributed to luck, or chance, or a fortuitous roll of the dice.
And, if I only had a few of these things happen to me, I would be hard pressed to argue with you.
But what if I had 25?
Because the reality is that I have had over 40 significant “blessings” in my life, and the vast majority of them did have some key, critical element that was beyond my control, or, in total, the blessing was entirely beyond my control.
So, back to the original point, it ain’t me who is ultimately causing or creating the vast majority of the very best things that have happened in my life.
Faith Not Luck
You might think I’m just unusually lucky.
I know I am not.
What I am is a person of faith.
A person who believes in the God of the Christian Bible.
Beyond that, there is absolutely nothing special about me.
It REALLY Ain’t Me
In fact – please allow me to be brutally candid here – my guess is that YOU are a far better person than I am.
The reality of the matter is that I am not a very good person.
My life is full of sin. I do things I know are wrong fairly often. I am not “nice.” I am not even remotely politically correct. I am hypercritical of others. I am insanely opinionated and outspoken. I don’t care that much about the feelings of others. I do all kinds of things that average people find off-putting.
Honestly? I think most people who know me don’t like me all that much.
And I’m OK with that, because I think that makes sense.
Why I Am Telling You This
I share with you a few of my shortcomings (trust me, there are MANY more) because I want to make crystal clear that God has not intervened in my life because I am special.
Or even above average.
He has intervened because I have faith.
I Believe; Therefore, I Receive
I sincerely believe that God has intervened in my life to the extent that He has simply because He is true to His Word, and I have been a student of His Word for many decades.
I have been laser-focused on the development and amplification of my faith for a very long time.
That 96% of the very best things that have happened to me feel as if they were not the direct result of something I did on my own would suggest that that focus has paid off.
Continue to Suspend Disbelief
Earlier, I asked you to suspend your disbelief for a moment to consider what I wanted to share with you in this blog.
I thank you for doing that.
But the truth is that you can continue to suspend your disbelief forever.
Because the hard reality is this: odds are fairly good that you’ll never experience anything like what I’ve described herein without faith.
Faith is Step One
If you don’t believe, you’re pretty much guaranteeing that you will never receive anything of note from God.
Here are a couple of scriptures consistent with that:
Matthew 9:29: “Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you.””
Hebrews 11:6: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
That is, faith is a precursor to God showing up in your life.
You simply have to believe.
I know how horribly cliché this is, but that fact that it is cliché does not mean it’s not correct, so I am going to say it anyway: You have NOTHING to lose by placing your faith in the God of the Christian Bible, and you have SO MUCH to gain.
So, why not have faith?
Why not believe?
One Final Ask
If you made it this far, I have one final thing to ask of you: give God a chance.
All I mean by that is this: close your eyes, take a deep breath, and simply say (out loud or to yourself, it doesn’t matter) this:
Dear God, I want to believe in you. In my human mind, that makes no sense, but I understand that my capacity to understand you is limited, so I ask you to overlook my doubt and my skepticism. I ask that you would reveal yourself to me. I ask that you do something that gives me a glimmer of hope that you are real. I want to have faith. I want to believe. I want to experience the incredible joy and freedom that can only come from having a relationship with you. I thank you for hearing my request. I thank you in advance for whatever it is you’re going to do.
That’s all I ask.
Just do it, and see what happens.
You Win Either Way
Maybe nothing happens, and you can be all the more convinced that you were right in the first place: there is no God, and people who believe in such things are delusional and weak.
That wouldn’t be the end of the world, right?
Having even more confidence in one’s view of the world and of life is never a bad thing, right?
Or, in the alternative, perhaps something actually does happen…
…some situation you thought was lost or dead turns around or comes back to life.
…something happens that feels completely out of the ordinary or inexplicable.
…something happens, and you feel something inside your heart, your spirit and your soul that says, “I know that didn’t happen by chance.”
And, because of that, you – just maybe – catch a small glimpse of what it might to like to have God involved in your life consistently.
And your faith begins to grow…
You have so much to gain, and you have absolutely nothing to lose…
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