I’m Bill Haslam, and here’s more of how God’s enabling me to live deeply.
There are so many things God needs to work on in my life. It’s like from week to week I realize, ‘There’s another room that needs tidying up.’ But one clear way He’s working: I’ve been so overwhelmed recently with God’s faithfulness. And I say that in light of my own unfaithfulness. I’ve now been following Jesus for 45 years. That’s a long time. Yet I still find myself thinking, ‘Really? My repeated lack of faithfulness, again?’ I mean that in the sense of walking faithfully with Him, but also the sense of ‘I really trust you, Jesus. I trust your way is better. I really do believe that better is one day in your house than a thousand elsewhere- than all those thousands of things I could be doing rather than walking with you.’ I’m so overwhelmed with my moment to moment lack of faith that that really is true, yet also so deeply impressed and re-impressed by His repeated faithfulness to people like me. It assures me that, as Psalm 63 says, my soul will be satisfied- I can rest in Him, even and especially when I struggle. All this other stuff that feels like it will satisfy me? It really won’t. But my soul one day really will be satisfied. The things I’ve been a part of accomplishing in public office carry a genuine sense of satisfaction, but they still don’t satisfy in the ultimate sense. Here’s what pursuing satisfaction in that way does to you: A lot of the people I served as governor with spent their whole time as governor figuring out how they could be president. I mean, being governor is arguably one of the best 200 jobs in this country. You had 50 people in those jobs, and most were unsatisfied, thinking, ‘I bet I could be president.’ I was with a person recently who’s done extraordinarily well financially, and he was remarking, ‘You know, it’s just not all it’s cracked up to be.’ Well, that’s true. But believers are assured, as we experience God’s faithfulness, that there IS something that truly will satisfy us. I challenge you to find anybody pursuing all those other things we think will satisfy us, who affirms they really do- you just can’t find those people.
I just keep telling God, ‘All my life, you’ve been faithful- you’ve been so, so good to me.’ Through a variety of life experiences, that’s the core truth I keep coming back to. It’s interesting- I’m teaching a class at UT this semester, and we have various people who’ve been part of historical moments come in to speak about them. Each event generally happened decades ago. I can remember how it was a big deal, but I’m struck by how often the students have never heard of the event, or if they have, they’re like, ‘Really? The Cuban missile crisis was a thing? Arguing about whether the United States should own the Panama Canal was a thing?’ My point- I can look back at my life in the same way. I’m one of these people who keep a journal. Almost every morning I’ll write down something. Then I can go back over time and look at that journal, and I can see those things that I was wrestling and struggling with, and I’m like, ‘Really? That was a thing?’ Because I can see over time God’s faithfulness in how the circumstances played out. One reason I do that is because today, I still get in the middle of those struggles – thinking ‘What am I going to do here?’ – and anxiety creeps in. Even though Paul says to be anxious for nothing but in everything, by prayer and supplication, give thanks, God’s aware of how hard that is. Every time something comes up that we care about, at least if you’re like me, you get wrapped around the axle really, really, really fast. It’s just helpful to be able to look back and say, ‘God, you were there. You asked me to jump off the cliff, but you were holding my hand the whole time.’ It’s also about realizing that God carrying you through every time doesn’t necessarily mean where He’s going to bring you is where you wanted Him to bring you. That best friend does die of cancer. That job that you wanted doesn’t happen. But there’s a sense in looking back of realizing, ‘Yeah, you were holding my hand the whole way.’ He reinforces that certainty that ultimately, He’s there, and all is well.