My sister Sarah went to a small college where you actually got to know the professors.
Her Eastern European History professor was her favorite, Professor Petrovich. He was Yugoslavian, and he was the official interpreter for President Jimmy Carter whenever Yugoslavian President Tito was in Washington D.C.
Professor Petrovich was also a character, and was almost always late for appointments.
One day he was really late, late for a plane flight. He raced down the freeway at almost ninety miles an hour. A police car began to chase him with sirens wailing, but he kept going. Soon half a dozen police cars joined the chase, and they pulled him over.
He jumped out of the car and yelled at the officers, “I am the interpreter for the President of the United States. I’ve got to catch a plane. If I don’t, it will be a humiliation for President Carter and a dishonor to President Tito. I’ve got to get to the airport now!”
The officers looked at each other, rushed back to their cars, and escorted the professor to the airport with lights flashing and sirens wailing, as though they were escorting the president himself. It was the ride of the professor’s life.
After he told my sister this story, he concluded in his thick accent: “Sawah, the moral of the story is, ‘When you lie, lie B-E-E-E-G!’”
I love that story and I love that moral
Oh, I don’t suggest we tell lies, small or b-e-e-g. The issue wasn’t the size of the lie; it was the failure to examine it. The urgency of the professor’s claim forced the officers to act without examination. No one wanted to embarrass the presidents.
Our lives are completely controlled by what we most deeply believe in our hearts. But sometimes—I’d say many times—we believe lies.
The more we examine a falsehood the less likely we’ll believe it. If someone tells us our shoe is untied, we’ll look down and see the truth. But if that same person yells “Fire” in a crowded theater, the urgency of the moment will cause many to panic.
Because the shout is unexamined.
We all live with unexamined beliefs. One of them is that we think we believe when we don’t. It’s time to examine what we think we believe.
Confusing “Beliefs About” with “Beliefs In”
There are two types of beliefs: beliefs about and beliefs in.
What we believe about is information, cold and infertile facts, motionless and dead. I believe about Mt. Everest, that it is [about] 29,000 feet high; and I believe about air, that it is [about] 21% oxygen. I accept these facts, but they are lifeless and sterile.
What we believe about is like unread books on the dusty bookshelves of our mind. They may be an enviable collection, but they are unopened and unproductive.
What we believe in is our reality; it is an inner force, something fresh and insistent, an active, pregnant pressure. What we believe in births an inner life that propels us.
What we believe in is like movies played on the screen of our hearts, moving us to tears and laughter. What we believe in becomes the script of our lives. It is our reality.
It’s possible to confuse beliefs about with beliefs in. One of the biggest lies we buy is we think we believe in God’s love when we really only believe about it. And it is the difference between living a cold, dusty, barren life, or living a hot, vibrant, fruitful life.
Identifying beliefs about and changing them to beliefs in
When we merely believe about God’s love, circumstances control our lives. A public humiliation, a job dismissal, or hardship will cause inner anxiety, anger, or shame. Because what we believe in is our reputation, paycheck, or security.
When those are taken, we are left with the dusty bookshelf of believed about books.
What can we do? Let’s let the urgency of our anxiety, anger, or shame move us to open that believed about book of God’s love and begin to read it. Let it stir our imagination.
What would our lives look like if God really did love us? What would our lives look like if God really used every circumstance to bring us more life, to fulfill his purpose for us, to plant, water, and nurture real life in our hearts?
Every circumstance would be water, every twist and turn of events would be nurture, every change of fortune would be an adventure; the adventure of our lives.
By the way, Professor Petrovich really was going to meet the presidents. His claim was audacious; it was urgent; and it was reality. Even more so, God really does love us. His love is audacious; it is urgent; and it is reality.
He loved us enough to step out of the reality of a joy-filled heavenly existence and step into our world of injustice, pathos, and pain. He loved us enough to absorb in himself the world’s injustice, pathos, and pain; so we can live lives of joy beyond belief or imagination.
We are not meant to sit on sofas in dusty libraries of unopened books. We are meant to have the story of God’s love projected on the screens of our hearts, setting our hearts on fire.
Christ didn’t come merely to give us a plane ticket to heaven. He also came to give us a wild, audacious, urgent ride to the airport; sirens are wailing, lights are flashing, and we’re speeding through the adventure of our lives.
Frankly, it’s one heck of a ride.
- What do you think? What are your beliefs about that can become beliefs in?