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The Great Daisy Test

The great Beulah State Daisy test has another name – the “I Am” (or “I most want to be – hope to be – most look forward to”) test.  And it can simply be summed–up as this: if you talk with someone long enough, or know them well enough, you will understand their “I am” center, heart and driving force.  And even when we may not, as yet, have achieved it, our “I am” is still a powerful force of our dreams and aspirations!  Our “I am” is what we hold tightly to and will fight for when “push comes to shove,” who/what we serve – ultimately our master!

For children, while they may not have yet fully developed their “I am,” you can be sure their parents have one in mind for them – just listen to parents talk about their children!  They are smart, good in some sport, hard working … this is the “I am” the parents are attempting to lead their child into.  As a better alternative, the great lesson parents can teach their children is that we are basically spiritual beings with physical aspects, not physical beings with some spiritual components.  Happiness (or whatever we want to call it) will only be found within ourselves, in spiritual development; it will not be achieved, on any long–term basis, in physical achievements or possessions.  “Things” should serve us, not we them!

A small sampling of common “I ams” are:

  • Having money
  • Job – or being self–employed so you do not (supposedly) have a boss
  • Children (most often for women)
  • Fame
  • Being a person of leisure
  • Connoisseur or sophistication in some special way
  • Democrat or Republican
  • Liberal or Conservative
  • Possession(s) – cars, homes, etc.
  • Being popular
  • Power
  • Where we live – some people will move to be in a more desirable place (Florida, New York, Hawaii, Alaska …)
  • Retired (or the longing for retirement)

In short, our “I am” is the ultimate hope, help, answer (in a word our security) we look to in evaluating and answering the key questions of life.  Whether by word, or just attitude, our “I am” is what we boast about and what we want others to most notice and say about us.  “I am” is not simply an adjective in our lives – it is at a minimum the key noun and, more likely, the motivating verb of our life – the driving force, our God/god.  Since it is so important in life we really should ask if our “I am” can reasonably be expected to provide the promised “return” – in other words, if we give ourselves to this “I am” is the reasonably expected reward worth the great cost of the “heart” of our life?

Why called the Daisy Test?  The Daisy is a great picture – its petals highlighting and circling the center (our “I am”) with each petal starting, finishing and highlighting this center and core.  Likewise is the “I am” to our lives – what everything else is ultimately measured by and answers to.  When it is money (a common example), money is a key factor in our job selection, we see it as our potential to fame, it will be the major factor in the possessions we have, it will allow us to have leisure and fun, it is necessary for security in all aspects of life … virtually every decision in life (each “petal”) is “checked” against this most important defining issue our “I am,” the center of our life.

As intimated above, a key responsibility of parents is to foster and encourage a (dare we say “the” only) meaningful “I am” in their children, to ensure we help direct them to a God–centered, versus some temporary worldly and man–centered, life’s I am goal and mission statement.  Joshua wisely said:

As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. Jos 24:16

Unquestionably, one of the top few key foundational verses and truths of the Christian faith is:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:8 – 10

“I am” a Christian thus necessarily means:

  • by grace I have been saved
  • through a faith that God has given me (it is beyond any faith I, in myself, possessed)
  • I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus
  • to do the precise, specific and exact good works,
  • which God prepared in advance for me to do.

And, as a result, our greatest “I am” now is Jesus Christ, with EVERY decision made with Him in mind.  A job?  Ask Him.  Buy a home – which one?  Expect God to both show us and provide for it.  A spouse?  Dare we think God is able to handle something so big and personal?  The car to purchase and when?   Where to live?  When and whether to retire?  What to do now and when/if we retire?  If Jesus Christ is our true “I am” we will be seeking His word, will and way for everything in life – we will look to these for guidance and direction.  Seeking His word, will and way will be our key life disciplines, disciplines that will only be achieved by and through God’s grace!

As opposed to a misleading or false “Christianity,” true faith in Jesus Christ (making Him our “I am”) is, as the verse above clearly states, an “I am” of great promises – He promises to give us NOW and later everything we need and can reasonably want, the ultimate and only security!

Helping to Pass and Improve in the Daisy Test

We do not, however, take and pass the Daisy Test once and then move to a “real” life until we die and then seek Jesus again (even though many false “professors” of the Christian religion may say otherwise) – finding and staying in our specific and precise I am is a daily challenge, trial and discipline for there are surely many competitors for and enemies to even the best “I am!”

While relatively few would risk their lives (talk is cheap – actions most clearly show our true “I am”) in making Jesus Christ their “I am” (“I am a disciple of Jesus Christ – this is the driving passion and force in my life – that which I really want most to be better and better at!”), it is likewise true:

  • The vast majority of the world’s population, past and present, “believe in God.”
  • Almost all of these people have judged themselves OK and acceptable (or better) before God.
  • A small minority of these folks read their respective “Holy Book” regularly.
  • It is common among professing Christians to say “the Bible is the word of God.”  If they, in fact, believe this, then the only reasonable conclusion is that few really care what God has to say since not many read the Bible regularly, expecting and looking, in it, for help and hope on a daily basis (in the everyday issues of life).  Reading our Bible regularly has no value as a means to please God, it is to find the truths of life, to set us free from the many dead–end “I ams” seeking our attention and devotion.

We are told:

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. 2Co 13:5

But, against what or whom can we examine ourselves?  Either we use the Bible or the world (or a part of the world, maybe even other professing Christians) for this task and assessment.  We can examine and judge ourselves by any other people and we are doomed to failure – thus, the regular reading of the Bible is absolutely necessary for this task.  What does the Bible tell and show us?

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” Jn 14:15

We will only know what to obey if we read the Bible regularly.

“Remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love.” Jn 15:9 – 10

This “remain” means when we find ourselves having drifted away from His love we must repent and return (for God did not leave us, we left Him!) – but we will only be shown and reminded of our position when we read the Bible regularly.  Compared to others (even in the church) we may look great, but comparison with others is an illusion and mirage.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Jas 4:7 – 8

This submission is through a desperate desire for the Word of God which we find most clearly in the Bible – what others say, including preachers, can be helpful, but reading the Bible regularly is the only sure way and place to find the “pure” Word of God.

This is Life!?

The Bible, God, Jesus Christ, “what I command,” “Submit,” “test yourselves” … won’t make sense unless and until Jesus Christ is our personal “I am,” the center and heart of our lives!  For we are clearly and succinctly told:

“You shall have no other gods before me.” Ex 20:3

Unless we view everything first and foremost from the perspective of eternity, Jesus Christ and what He says then the Bible will not make much sense.  When our families are the center of our focus, when all important decisions are made in the light of the family, or job, retirement, recreation, comfort, money and investments … something has to take center stage  … then we fail the test (if we faithfully examine ourselves in light of the Bible) because Jesus tells us:

“No servant can serve two masters.” Lk 16:13

Too often we mistakenly equate being religious and spiritual with being a true Christian that can withstand the examination the Bible tells us we must regularly make.  But life is confusing.  Like a long trip that requires frequent reference to a map, life’s necessary map is the Bible which is of value only if we refer to it regularly and frequently, not now and then or when we find ourselves lost!  Yes, life, at its best, can be confusing.  The Bible is our guide, but it is not a Ouija board or fortune teller we turn to for magic answers.  Sometimes, when we don't know what to do (even when we are reading our Bibles regularly) we are still left like Peter (when Jesus asked the Disciplines “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jn 6:67):

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 
We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” Jn 6:68 – 69

We have to trust, based on our experience, that God will guide us in the right direction (an assurance we would be foolish to depend on if He is not our “I am”).

Life is Dynamic – There Are No One–Time Fixes!

As hinted to above, the snake–oil of “Christianity” is the idea of a one–time fix (“repeat this prayer after me and you will be saved!”).  But, in reality, life is dynamic and ever–changing, requiring constant attention and examination.  Inanimate things (cars, house, clothes …) require attention – how much more living relationships?  Marriages, to grow and prosper, require frequent examination and “realignment.”  Jobs, retirement, recreation, money and investments … to do them better, to put the best into and get the most out of them, require a discipline of examination and adjustment.  How much more, then, should we expect it necessary to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith; to test ourselves and our personal “I am.”

Those who love their spouse welcome the examination and improvement of their marriage.  If we appreciate our possessions, we do not resent the time and effort it takes to examine how we can better care for these items of value.  The proof that we treasure a relationship with Christ is if we welcome, appreciate and hunger for frequent examinations aimed at improving this relationship.

The Paradox and Good News

Any fair reading of the Bible makes it clear VERY early and VERY often that what God expects and requires is more than any person can hope to do or accomplish – yet He apparently demands it!  What are we to do?

  • Humble ourselves and admit we can’t do it – then, and only then, will we find the truth and reality that gives grace to the humble. Pr 3:34, Jas 4:6 & 1Pe 5:8
  • Repent, by grace, turn and go in the direction God leads us in.
  • Seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness above anything else in life.

Then, we will experience the promised paradox of the Gospel – that we (because of and through the grace, Holy Spirit and power God gives us) will be even better parents, spouses, workers … than we would otherwise be if these were our “I ams” (with Jesus Christ being secondary). We may not have as much money when Jesus is our I am, but we can be sure we will be more content with even less if that is God’s plan for us. Our “tastes” will certainly change, but we will like our new tastes much better than the old that now are often things that shame us about our pasts (“… what was I thinking …?”).
When we have found (or more correctly grace has revealed to us) life is no longer considering what we can do, but it is seeking to find what God wants to do through us, by His grace, THEN we find:

Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. Jn 3:21

And where and when we fail to take advantage of God’s abundant and ever–present grace we lose – not God!  But, this will only be accomplished with God’s grace of faith – the grace that precedes all other “special” graces.  For

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. Heb 11:6

With this in mind, we seek grace not as an obligation or even to please God (though it will), but as our greatest gift and privilege!  When (if we do) examine ourselves we should STOP IMMEDIATELY doing anything for the purpose of doing it “for” or to please God!  Rather we need to understand the real message of grace: what is of our good, God makes possible by His grace because what is good for us pleases Him.

What does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD'S commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? Dt 10:12 – 13

Nothing we do benefits God – He does not need us to do anything.  To think otherwise is to have a teenager’s immature mind–set thinking everything his parents tell him is for their (the parent’s) good and purpose, making him unnecessarily unhappy.  Parents are not perfect and sometimes act naturally for their own benefit and purposes – God, on the other hand, does not need us to do anything to help and aid Him – any motivation we make in this direction is offensive to Him and is certainly not a proper purpose!  Thus, a regular discipline of seeking His Word, will and way for everything in life, achieved only by and through God’s grace, is a longing for it for our ultimate “own good.”

Unless we consciously realize and return to this truth over and over, every day, we will not live in the freedom of Galatians 5, but instead find ourselves again in the first part of Galatians, being rebuked as God says to us:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all  …

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.   I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?  Gal 1:6 – 3:3

We should not naively think we can set our course, even to a great “I am,” once and stay the course without daily attention and seeking of fresh grace to return to it day–by–day.  It is a constant fight against the world’s many I am pulls – they never let up and we will only overcome them with both daily grace and appropriate spiritual disciplines (most notably daily reading of God’s Word, prayer and seeking His grace for everything in life).

“God’s abundant provision of grace” Ro 5:18 is available but, that said, we must take it in order to be beneficiaries of “the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us Eph 1:7 – 8.  This requires we be disciples of (disciplined in) Jesus Christ – that we examine ourselves honestly and regularly to see where and how we have “fallen away from grace” Gal 5:4, repent and return to grace – only accomplished by resetting and redirecting our personal “I am” to Jesus Christ and seeking all the means He has provided to find, live and do the precise and specific good works He has laid out for each of His followers!  Take the Daisy test regularly:

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. 2Co 13:5

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 1Jn 2:15 – 17

This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God … He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1Jn 5:3 – 12

Any teaching that says we lose anything by making Jesus Christ our personal I am is a false gospel for only in this can we hope to have a meaningful life, death and eternal life!  For, as Jesus promised:

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. Jn 10:10