If there was ever a word chock full of attitude it’s the blog word of the week: whatever. When I was growing up the equivalent phrase would’ve been ‘big deal’ – which I was not allowed to say. Now I see the wisdom in that discipline…it helped keep my attitude in check.
When I find myself using ‘whatever’ it’s typically in the context of a conversation where I’m frustrated and just avoid the argument and mutter under my breath ‘whatever.’ As if to communicate I don’t care anymore. Or that what the other person is saying has little merit. Or that I just don’t want to hear it.
And then there was the “W” that the younger generation added to it. It wasn’t good enough to just show a ‘baditude’ with words and eye rolls; now the hands had to get into the act. It became the modern day ‘valley girl’ talk replacing ‘like, for real’ with ‘WHATever.’
But then I discovered WHATEVER! And that’s where they ante got upped. It’s a word Paul uses in Philippians in directing our thoughts.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8
Not quite the ‘whatever’ we’re used to using. And what I love is how that verse starts…’finally’ – which means the next line comes at the end of litany of other instruction. It’s one of my favorite sections of the Bible and Philippians is
kmy favorite book. I even started memorizing it back in the 90s and still have a good deal committed to memory. But check out the attitude instructions in Philippians 2 & 3. The entire chapters. Go read it and you’ll see that AFTER all those other things we’re supposed to use to adjust our attitudes, the bottom line is summed up in verse 8. WHATEVER.
But there is one other aspect of WHATEVER that captured my heart decades ago. May 31 will be 31 years since I’ve been following Christ. Pretty crazy. And in the 90s when I was involved in a lot of ministry and was office manager at the church building I was really digging in deep. I made a covenant with God. Now before I go any farther let’s stop there a minute.
In Biblical times a covenant was a LOT more than it is today. It was a contract in a sense: a contract for your life. If you made a covenant and broke it you deserved one thing: death. So to enter into a covenant was to contract for your life with whomever about whatever.
It was with this frame of mind that I made a covenant with God and it simply said this:
“I will do WHATEVER it takes to be TOTALLY committed to You.” I have that written on the front page of my Bible. I was a younger believer and some friends and one of the pastors from church were helping me sort out a lot of false beliefs and confusion about things and as we cleared the clutter of my mind I came to the conclusion that God was worth my all. So I made the covenant. End of story. Or so I thought. God was really just getting started.
Over the decades since that day I have had to use that as motivation, as reminder, and as purpose. WHATEVER covers an awful lot. As in anything. Everything. It covers heart, mind, spirit, body, finances, profession, church membership, involvements, service…the list could go on. It cuts to the quick, blows past the fat and smoke screens, and brings me back to a gut check every time. And I am SO thankful!
It is what drives me in dealing with my eating disorder. My covenant with God won’t let me brush it under the rug or
downplay it. It doesn’t leave room for excuses or preferences. It is simply a Lordship issue. Every time. And it comes down to willingness. A favorite former pastor of mine, Chuck, used a phrase that has stuck with me to this day. “If you’re not willing, pray God would make you willing to be willing.” And a lot of times, if I’m honest, that’s where it starts. I know my heart. I know how selfish and prideful and judgmental and critical it is. I know it doesn’t want to ‘look out for the interests of others’ (Philippians 2:4) all the time. And it certainly doesn’t like facing my past and feeling those emotions and dealing with the ways I injure my body through my eating disorder. But it comes down to this: Do I mean what I say when I say I am a Jesus follower and He has my heart? That’s the bottom line. All or nothing. He either has my heart or He doesn’t. I am constantly finding corners of my heart – the deeper corners – that aren’t His. Yet. But they will be. It’s part of that ‘whatever’ thing.
“Whatever” is an act of surrender. It’s the living out of “Jesus take the wheel.” It’s the innocent trust a child has that Daddy will catch him when he jumps off the edge into the pool for the first time. It’s trusting that God will be waiting at the next step and simply wants me to take that step.
‘Whatever’ came into play last year. I had been watching a church service online for a couple years. It started when Scott was in prison. Then in April 2015 I visited for the first time and was intrigued. In person was a LOT better than online. I visited again, and then it became a once a month thing. Which led to twice a month. Which led to every week. All the while I was still going to my church but God was doing something in my heart through this other church as well. As I got to know some of the leadership and the things they were discussing I just started feeling drawn there. Then last summer I started ‘thinking’ about if God would have me change churches. ‘Thinking’ changed to praying in October and God confirmed very quickly. And I dragged my feet 3 months to be sure God wasn’t making a mistake.
It made no human sense. Why would I change churches from one I’ve attended for 7-1/2 years and that had seen me through so much to attend a church that is 3x the distance and 10x the size, all things I have intentionally avoided my entire church-going life? IT MADE NO SENSE! Yet I couldn’t fight the draw. I scheduled a meeting with the Executive Pastor before a Saturday night service and we talked about my concerns as well as a lingering theological question (trust me, I had been picking apart the church website as well as the denomination website), and there was just something in that conversation that clinched it for me. I made it official that night letting the leadership know that I believed God wanted me to change churches and I would start the process. I hadn’t told anyone at my church about it because I really just needed to hear from God directly on this. And what could I say when asked the question ‘why’ other than ‘I don’t know but I really believe it’s what God wants.’ I had nothing else.
Since that change – I made it official in January and just became a member in April – God has been moving. Things are coming alive for me. My heart is being awakened and energized like it was in the 90s. I have felt for a while that God wants to use me and my story on a large scale and I believe being at my new church is part of that plan. I am part of the new multi-site pioneer team and am learning their sound board to help serve in that way. I am having my eyes opened to LARGE events. What I used to think as large is not as large as it could be. It’s taking me out of my comfort zone and breathing new life into lungs that were in need of a breath of fresh air. And what is crazy is I wasn’t looking for it. I didn’t think about it or even look for it. It just happened. And all that has come with it is part of ‘whatever.’
When I get bogged down in dealing with my eating disorder – like with the dietician issue – ‘whatever it takes’ becomes my compass. When I fear the logical side of things – you know, when the brain gets in the way of the heart – ‘whatever’ becomes the springboard for action. And when it comes to going where God needs me, ‘whatever it takes’ keeps me on the road.
I have no idea what God is doing. All I know is I want to cooperate. I want my heart to beat with His, my ears to hear His voice, my voice to speak His words, my feet to go wherever He leads without explanation, and my hands to work out His love. And it that’s what it means to be ‘totally committed to God’ then that’s what I want. WHATEVER.