I Did It My Way

My Way

. . . I’ve lived a life that’s full

I’ve traveled each and every highway

But more, much more than this

I did it my way . . .

“My Way” re-written by Paul Anka was popularized first by Frank Sinatra in 1969 and later become known as Sinatra’s signature song. The song is the story of a man looking fondly back on a life he lived on his own terms.  While never a major hit in the United States it was on the charts for over 120 weeks in the United Kingdom.

And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve traveled each and every highway
But more, much more than this
I did it my way
Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way
Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way
I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill my share of losing
And now, as tears subside
I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say – not in a shy way
Oh no, oh no, not me
I did it my way
For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way
Yes, it was my way
Ironically, the story goes that Sinatra grew to hate the song, deeming it both “self-serving and  self-indulgent”. You can here his criticism of it if you follow the link above and listen.
I think sometimes we are not so unlike Sinatra, doing things “our way” is great fun until it isn’t.

When “My Way” No Longer Works

Recently I’ve been reading the book of Galatians — which is really a letter written by Paul to the churches of Galatia.  (The churches in this area were established by Paul on either his first or second missionary trip.)  This letter is the story of churches filled with people who decided they were going to do things “my way”.

Paul is writing the churches because he heard that false teachers had twisted the gospel he had previously shared.  These teachers were leading the church astray. As a consequence of these false teachings many people were reverting to an old way of thought. They had fallen into a trap of thinking that insisted keeping the law was necessary for their salvation.  And, in this particular instance the false teachers were insisting on the necessity of circumcision to be saved. Paul, not known for his tolerance, immediately cuts to the chase in his letter and argues that the false teachings have changed and perverted the true message of the gospel.  Paul reminds them that salvation is found only through faith in Jesus Christ. And, not the law.

16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 

Galatians 2|16

Prior to the coming of Jesus, the law had once served a purpose.  But Jesus (as he’s prone to do) changed everything.

It’s easy to understand how this deviation might happen – in fact I imagine that many of us might be tempted into this old way of thought. Tempted to do things our own way. Rules can provide a clear guide for living and a false belief that we’re in control. Do this and don’t do that. Just check the boxes. Right?

If I insist on doing things my way and try to earn my salvation through trying to keep the law I will only find my efforts frustrated because I simply cannot obey perfectly.

10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”a]”>[a] Galatians 3|10

I’m not sure why it is we resist even to this day the message of the Gospel that is faith in Christ and only Christ. Why is it that we refuse the possibility of the most generous of gifts? Perhaps, because we know the limits, the boundaries of our own generosity and refuse to imagine what we know is untenable for our own self. Maybe, we think more highly of our ability to follow the law than we do the strength of our faith. I promise you friend, our own efforts will always come up short. They will miss the mark and reveal us to be the imperfect, faint hearted and selfish creatures we are. And, in the end we’ll still need faith in a Savior greater and more gracious than anyone we could imagine.
Sister, this morning I pray that you set aside any intentions you had of doing things your way. Put down those rules that will only bind and frustrate you; grow that faith and allow yourself to be carried by the grace of Jesus.
Be there,
Julia

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