Mark Affleck

I Was Living In A Mansion With An Asterisk*

July 22, 2017
Spiritual Growth

Money!   Success!   Power!

Those threads were the pervasive focus of my early days as a Christian as I mounted a relentless chase of prosperity at the exclusion of almost everything else. I was the boss of my life and had not fully surrendered it to Christ. I was living in a mansion with an ASTERISK, and it was horrible.
Years later, after yielding to my life without reservation, I started to grow spiritually and learned to trust God for everything. That includes the trials and tests of life which actually made my faith stronger. The growth was incremental, but steady and full of blessings and joy to be sure. Every growth spurt produced significant development of my spiritual character.
But here’s the footnote…
No matter how strong or how much spiritual rhythm I produced, there was always an ASTERISK following me around like a stone in my Nike’s. It went something like this:
Yes, God…I believe in you and trust you, but there is no way I am worthy of your abundant life. Never. Not me.”
This ASTERISK in my life increased with each new “mistake” I made or bad thought that crossed the cinema of my mind. This negative cycle created and reinforced a damaging self-perception that I could never live a Christ-like life.
But it was a LIE!
Our real identity is in Christ. The TRUTH is that God is always with us and never leaves our side, whether we sense him there or not.
The pain produced by living with an ASTERISK was toppled by this transformation of truth. And that meant less looking back and more looking ahead. Less pessimism and more hope. Less cynicism and more confidence. Less destructive comparison and more contentment.
My personal ASTERISK had two parts:

  1. “Catastrophizing” the negative parts of life.
  2. Being suspicious of others.

Both are traceable, I think, to growing up in a home with an alcoholic father that etched on my soul a deep sense of fear and abandonment. I could never trust anyone and always felt that however nice someone might be acting…eventually they would turn on me. I was always suspicious of everyone’s motives, even if they were family or close friends.
And then God rescued me with his truth that events on our “life timeline” that produce an ASTERISK may be unalterable, but he can and will shape them and us for good. Over time I started to believe this to be true because he taught me that the ASTERISK we affix to our identity is not permanent if we remember his promises:
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:18
“Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:22
“Because God in His mercy has given me this ministry, I am not going to become discouraged and give up.” 2 Corinthians 4:1
My ASTERISK keeps getting smaller and smaller and smaller. And the same thing can happen to you.

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