If you missed Part 1 Please Click Here
We’ve talked about what happens when you don’ stay grounded in Christ. When you don’t keep who you are in perspective of who Christ is. We covered Isolation already and we ’bout to get offended. When we don’t keep our identity in Him secure, we risk having a strong spirit of offense. We walk around READY to be offended because we aren’t secure in who we are without outside approval.
My son was diagnosed with Autism about 5 years ago. It was a really dark time in my life. I took everything personally- TV shows, fleeting ignorance, everyone’s opinions. I wanted to explain everything to every judgmental side-eye and every scoffing smirk. I felt like I needed to be justified in every action and decision, the reality is, I should have been satisfied with already having been justified by the only One who matters. My offended spirit started before anyone opened their mouth. It started in MY fear, MY brokenness, MY tore up heart, but mostly my shaky identity.
I was in a season where, by the worlds standards, I was wholly and completely a failure. My marriage was floundering, my job was terrible, we were hopping around from family members and basements with an autistic toddler, and I had no idea how to be a mom to him. My emotional darkness started long before my situation was dim though- it started when I was trying to be defined by what I could do (being a wife, my job, my parenting ability) and not WHOSE I was. In retrospect I’m so thankful I didn’t have success in that season,or I could see myself being defined by the stuff. I wanted so much to have SOMEONE say “I’m proud of you”, when someone already was. I’m HIS DAUGHTER. I’m HIS IMAGE. that’s all I need. I could have saved myself a lot of heartache if I had gotten that in my thick skull a little sooner.
It shouldn’t matter whether someone else understands or not, THE ONE who understands everything does.
When we get our roles mixed up with who we are, we feel rejection at every turn. This world is full of a million different opinions on EVERYTHING. Literally. Just google “parenting styles” and you will see an opinion from every possible corner. Just because someone has a differing opinion, doesnt mean its a personal attack or rejection.
Moms, here me on this especially, just because someone parents differently than you, doesn’t mean you should be automatically offended. Dont start off on that same road I was on- ready to be offended. Don’t put all your identity in your kids, or you WILL be consumed by a spirit of offense. Every side comment about your kids’ behavior or body or brain or spirit or whatever, will crush you or enrage you if you don’t know who you are and know what your kids are and aren’t. This body we are called to is beautifully diverse. We have different personalities and gifts, why would we think parenting would look the same on all of us? <Small caveat… There ARE biblical standards for parental training and we DO need to follow those. Keep in mind there is also a difference between butting heads and loving accountability- receive loving correction if its due!).
Personal annoyance rant- What’s up with the mom-wars guys? Really? Is everyone so desperate to pick a fight that we are going to divide the church because of baby-wearing, vaccines, breastfeeding or GMOs? Seriously? Why would we let the devil have that foothold!? (rant done)
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” Col. 4:6
The next time you’re offended, mad, or ready to type that comment online- think- is this as big as the Cross? All these hurts- are they as big as the Cross? Really, we know none of them are. But its a good reminder for me in it all. When my heart hurts from a smart remark- is it as big as the cross? No, its not. It’s really not. I’m not willing to let bitterness into my heart and rip me and what God has for me up and just so I can feel justified and stew in my anger. how DUMB!
“Don not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.” Ecc.7:21-22
I only try to give as much grace to other people as was given to me. I should clarify, I’ve been given a lot of grace (mostly because I have a mouth that moves faster than my brain). Be careful what you say and be careful not to hold onto one person’s fleeting fault and emotion become a root of bitterness in you. Its hard to take out once its planted.
“Blessed are the merciful for they shall be shown mercy” (Matt 5:7)
Sounds good to me. Put on your crown. Know who you are. It doesnt matter what other people say if you are confident in whose you are.
So, this is the first of 3 parts where we will talk about what happens if your identity isn’t firmly founded in Christ.
When someone asks you to tell them about who you are, how do you describe yourself? Almost every single time the response is “I work at ______” or “I’m a mom” or “I’m so-and-so’s wife” or “I do x-y-z”. The reality is, none of those things describe YOU, they all describe things you DO. Your roles. Not your identity. Let’s put that out there first. You aren’t a job, you are a person with different qualities from everyone else. Every person is a unique concoction that makes them up- unique from everyone else. Not a single person on the planet was made just like you. (Really think about that for a second and you’re fixing to blow your mind). We are all so different, and yet can walk out righteousness in so many different ways. We have to be grounded in who we are IN CHRIST or else we will flounder- a lot.
Who/what/when/where you are isn’t a happenstance thing- It’s ON PURPOSE. He put you where you are for such a time as this, for such a mission as this. He made you, with your individual qualities ON PURPOSE. (small caveat- there are things He is working out of us too, we live in a sinful world and we need to seek after Him to be refined, but who we are is who He made us).
So much of the time we get side tracked on our mission. We forget the WHY we are doing things. And often it is because we don’t have a solid foundation of WHO we are. I struggled for quite awhile coming to be ok in this. I am not a quiet, demure, docile woman. I am loud, boisterous, a little crazy (not like I’ll hurt you crazy, more like I’ll make you socially awkward crazy). I had a hard time trying to make myself look like what I thought a godly woman/wife/mom looked like. But the truth is, righteousness comes in all different shades- loud or quiet, serious or silly, type A personality or the hot mess mama just trying to get everyone dressed. Every family looks different, and giving God glory is going to look different in each family. Another caveat- the Bible DOES give specific direction on godly character or godly parenting or marriage or friendship. Follow that, do what it says. Just remember it isn’t going to look the same on everyone.
Being a mom is a role, not your identity.
Being a wife is a role, not your identity.
Wherever you work is your role, not your identity.
Keep all of this in mind over the next few posts.
When we mix our roles and identity up, we end up shaky and ungrounded and in one of three camps: being isolated, being offended, or being a Pharisee (what?- just stick with me on this).
- Being Isolated.
Being isolated doesn’t necessarily mean being a recluse and never coming outside (although it can be). You can isolate yourself in a crowd, with your friends, with your family. One of the definitions of ‘isolated’ is ‘to become unengaged’. What happens when a part of your body becomes ‘unengaged’?……. It dies! If you wrap a rubber band around your pinky and the blood cant get there, it becomes ‘unengaged’, it dies. If blood cant get to a part of your body, it dies. When you are in the body of Christ, you CANNOT isolate yourself, you will slowly kill yourself. We are called to be one body, not one pancreas or one liver. We aren’t one self functioning glob of awesomeness. We are a BODY of different parts that are supposed to be working together. we can carry more together than we can apart.
So recently I did a Zumba class at my gym. I have done them in the past, but not in a long time. I am not a pro, and it showed. I have no rhythm, and it showed. The whole first half I kept my eyes on the instructor like my life depended on it, watching her every move, trying to mimic them as best I could (which isn’t saying much). After a bit, I started to realize I was getting the moves a little better, just by watching her and doing them over and over. I was starting to feel pretty good! Then I saw it…. That darn mirror…. Even though I felt pretty good about how I was doing, as soon as I stopped looking at the leader and focusing on how I looked compared to the other people in class, I started messing up the steps even more. I was focusing on the wrong thing.
It seems like everything falls apart in so many areas of our lives when we take our eyes off our Instructor (ehmmm…..I’m talking about Jesus….). There are seasons where I feel like I’m just starting, I can’t figure out what’s up or down and I feel like I cant keep up. But when you press into Him, and just keep going, you get better, stronger, wiser. IF you keep your eyes and heart on Him. The exact same season can produce growth or bitterness, strength or a waste of time- depending on what you do with it and where your heart is.
“Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds.” (Heb. 12:1-3 AMP)
SO MUCH in that verse that I love, but let’s focus on what it takes to do what it says- FIX YOUR EYES ON JESUS.
I’ve seen in myself, when I get focused on myself instead of Him, I get more afraid. More self-centered. Less aware of what He is doing. I miss out on so much and end up being a slave to my own mind. I want to walk in his promises for me, but I can’t do that if I am self-focused and not Him-focused.
“You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and character] is stayed on You, because He commits himself to you, leans on you, and hopes confidently in you.” (Is.26:3 AMP)
Back to me in Zumba….
In that same Zumba class, there were some girls who were completely on the other end of the spectrum. They were AWESOME, and they knew it. They moved at the right time, with perfect timing and shall we say “je ne sais quoi”. They stood at the front and stared at themselves, because they knew are awesome. Since they were in the front, and obviously knew how to do this thing, people followed them. And when the mini-zumbatrons got too focused on themselves and not what the instructor was doing, not only did they mess up, but everyone who was following them did too.
I’m not saying anyone should follow a person over Jesus. I AM saying that when you know what Jesus wants of you, you still need to keep your eyes on Him because other people will follow your step. When you are a leader in ministry, its even more important to keep your eyes and heart on him, because people are following you. Right or wrong, they will follow you.
Follow Jesus! and Work it!
So, I have had this written for a VERY long time. But I keep not posting it because something happens and I think “Oh I don’t want them to think I am targeting them” or “They will be mad” or whatever. I’m so done with that. If you get mad, think about why you feel anger instead of alarmed.
So here goes….
We are people. We are unique. We are different. We bring different gifts to the body. But…
We are people. We are emotional. We make assumptions. And we are always right (or we think we are)
Disagreements are going to happen. Its not an ‘if’ it’ll happen, it’s a ‘when’ it’ll happen. How we handle them determines a lot though. We can cling to our ‘rightness’, but at what cost? We will be unjustly attacked, do we respond with grace anyway?
When we let little disagreements grow into our opinions, they cause cracks in our foundation. I don’t know much about construction (other than you take the thing and nail it to the thing and bada-bing- there’s a house)- but I do know the importance of a foundation. If your foundation is crumbling, it doesn’t matter how pretty or how many bells and whistles you have, the house is a waste of space. Unliveable. Dangerous. If Jesus is our foundation, our cornerstone (that might even be in the Bible somewhere…Ephesians 2:20), then we should seek Him first and His desires in every situation. That might look different at different times, but it is always to give Him glory. The thing about cracks in a foundations, is that they are subtle at first. But it leads to crumbling and ultimate destruction. So be on guard and stop the IMMEDIATELY.
We have all heard the verse “An house divided cannot stand” (Matt. 12:22-28), and you may think you know that point I’m getting at. You don’t. I’m not saying our own house cant stand if its divided against itself (which, although true, isn’t the point of the verse). That section of Scripture is Jesus telling the Pharisees that if he was from the devil he wouldn’t be casting out demons. If we are a house that is not built on and acting for the Lord, we cant do his work. If we are full of bitterness and anger or hating on each other (even in little snide remarks)- we cant do those awesome things! Not that we serve God to see signs, wonders, and miracles- but good gracious- I want to see people freed from addiction in His name! I want people to get out of their wheelchairs in his name! I was to be a part of that. I don’t want to be a dead of for people seeking hope and freedom in Christ. I don’t want to rob others of freedom because I wanted to cling to my hurt from another person.
The heart of the Father has always been reconciliation. Reconciliation with Him, first and foremost. Reconciliation with others second. Yes, there will be people who don’t receive and don’t want to reconcile, you aren’t responsible for them. We are responsible for our own actions and hearts before God. “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” (Phil. 2:14-16) Don’t nullify your work, or your church family’s work for that matter.
Lastly, If you are bitter. You are wrong.
We like to validate our bitterness with “Oh I’m not bitter….” and then list of justifications for our emotions (that are a lengthy list, just not bitterness). Generally actions or qualities of the other party. Like that changes things. Sure, be mad. But then seek reconciliation QUICKLY. The dictionary defines bitterness as “anger or resentment at being treated unfairly; resentment”. Pretty sure Jesus was treated more unfairly than any situation we have gone through and He still forgave. We can do it. “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled…”(Heb.12:14-16).
Don’t allow that in you! Don’t allow that in your church family! In any family! CUT IT OUT QUICKLY!
There’s a popular Christian song out right now that has a line that gets me every time.
“And I know if I’m good that you’ll heal me”.
Well, I’m a lost cause then. Because I am not a good Christian. I don’t mean that in a self-deprecating ‘tell me how wonderful I am’ post. I literally mean, I fall short every. single. day.
God’s goodness and choices aren’t based on how well I behave. Yes, there are natural blessings that come in walking in His desires for you, but His grace isn’t going to change if you don’t toe the line correctly this week. If you don’t get perfect attendance or post enough Bible verses or a 4 letter word slips out…. We seek and strike and go after Him fiercely. But sometimes we fall short. I struggle making time for Him. How horrible right? I struggle reading my Bible as much as I want. I struggle praying as much as I want. I struggle having pure and kind thoughts. I struggle being disciplined. I get tired. I get lazy. I’m human.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.“(2Cor. 12:9-10)
No matter what you fight against or struggle with, keep fighting and struggling- don’t give up, because He gets the glory then! I have seen over and over in my life, times when I mess up or fall short or whatever- and He STILL is gracious with me. when I am weak, and I trust in Him, He does mighty things. Grace is UNMERITED favor. Undeservable. Unearnable (What? It’s my post, I can make up words if I want). There’s nothing we can do to make Him love us less or more. He has already done it! We strive after Him because He is worth it. We seek after Righteousness because that’s what He wants for us. As a mom, I would much rather have my children try earnestly to do something because they love me and fail, over being completely perfect because they are afraid my love will stop if they mess up. His love won’t stop.
Yes, sometimes people get healed- PRAISE GOD! And sometimes people don’t get healed- PRAISE GOD STILL! The apostle Paul lived with a ‘thorn’ in his flesh. We don’t know exactly what that thorn was but he said that it was “a messenger from Satan” that tormented him….ummm k thanks but no thanks. But He hadn’t done anything wrong in God’s sight- He had been forgiven. He was preaching and making disciples of all nations! We can’t look at prayers God says “no” to as Him saying we are naughty. Because its ridiculous.
Don’t be angry with God if He doesn’t answer your prayers like a spiritual bellhop. He’s not a waiter, He’s a Father. How a waiter serves: brings exactly what is ordered in a manner timely enough to satisfy the customer. If they are dissatisfied with the quality/color/temperature/taste etc, it is returned until they are appeased. How a father serves: He knows the needs of the kid, chooses food that will grow them. That they aren’t allergic too and wont keep them up all night (as much as ice cream for dinner makes you the COOLEST). While still working with a schedule for school or chores or whatever is needed to be done. The kid might not want vegetables and meet and cheese- but they need it more than chocolatey goodness. Kids can’t see their body grow, but a Father puts things in place to make that happen.
A few years ago, I was finishing up school and doing some externship work. I finished and we ended up being in this holding pattern for SO long on a job. We were living in a basement with an autistic 2 year old working the retail life begging God to hear us. I remember praying so hard, God, please let me get hired before Christmas- didn’t happen. I was hired on February 7. I remember that day. You know why? It was 7 days after the deadline for an application for therapy my son need. We were approved and it was paid for- because we were under the income limit at the time of the application- and fluctuating income afterward didn’t matter. He got free speech, occupational therapy, social group, preschool for two years. Because I was hired 7 days after the deadline. I’m sure some of you are thinking “must be nice”….it was!!! But in the time of waiting, we didn’t quit. We didn’t get bitter. We didn’t stop going to church because ‘we had stuff going on’. He kept us going. He kept providing for us supernaturally. He kept reminding us He is our provider, our Father. Not gonna lie- I struggled a lot in that season though- with fear, anxiety, depression, panic attacks. But those things didn’t win. Being with His people is strength when you don’t have it.
I don’t say this for a pat on the back- but to encourage you! These awesome things happen all the time, if you keep going and pressing in. Don’t give up before the blessing! Don’t give up because you stumbled! Don’t be discouraged because it looks different than you pictured. He is good! He desires good things for his children!
Just Keep Swimming.
What is peace? A mental state? An emotional state? Some form of Christian-ese zen?
Anxiety is something I have dealt with for a very long time. The gamut of it too- sleeplessness, panick attacks, consuming fear, depression. It’s overwhelming. We always hear the verse in Matthew ‘be anxious for nothing’, but not always the ‘how’ to do it? Being in the middle of anxiety, sometimes it’s so frustrating to hear that verse (what?!? Did she just say that?)
There is this common theme that peace comes when you just ‘let it go’.
What does the Bible say though?
‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.’ (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)
Peace is a fruit, a result of seed being planted and taking root and work and waiting and growing. The fruits of the spirit are evidence of Him working in our life. Who doesn’t want that?
We cant just lay back though, fruit grows in fertile soil- we get there by discipline and surrender. Reading His Word, praying with Him, Worshipping Him, and being with His people.
i can tell you honestly and consistently, whenever I slack in my relationship with Him, the first weapon Satan works on is my anxiety. When I fix my eyes on here, and not the ‘author and perfecter of my faith’ (Heb.12:2), I get overwhelmed with the stuff and not Him.
You see, peace isnt a trade off- you don’t pray once and walk in continuous peace. It doesn’t melt just reading a few memes with a verse or two on them. It doesn’t magically appear at lakes (why always large bodies of water?!)
Peace is the result of Hard work and pressing into Him, not surrendering to our surroundings.
walk it out friends, you’ve got this.
I sounded like a jerk in the title there didn’t I? Don’t shoot the messenger….
Even fools are thought wise if they keep their mouth shut, and discerning if they hold their tongues. (Proverbs 17:28)
I fully see the irony in what I’m about to say (as im posting this publicly)… Just because you have an opinion, doesn’t mean you have to share every opinion. It doesn’t make you ‘righter’ by making sure everyone else knows you’re right.
We are in this age of ‘be bold’ and ‘be blunt’ or ‘speak the truth’ (people tend to forget the ‘in love’ part of speaking truth). People who come up with quick one-liners and sarcastic commentaries (Ya I’m talking about myself here too) get the likes and shares and acknowledged. But quick one liners don’t necessarily help your purpose.
the Bible says a gentle tongue is a tree of life (prov.15:4). We are supposed to speak life! (Insert Toby Mac here….) complaining and berating how everyone else is messing up the world by ________ (parenting,driving, voting, posting, dressing, living, ANYTHING) doesn’t accomplish the goal. It makes people mad. Don’t be that guy.
Hear me on this too… We serve and love a HOLY God. He has so much grace for us it seems unreal. We are supposed to be accountable to our brothers and sisters. We are supposed to strive to please the Lord. Be that person, help people, point out things people might be missing, keep His people Holy and filled with wisdom.
but do it in love.
and venting or whatever is very different than a judgmental heart. When your heart is to help and love- it comes across. When you want to be right, that comes across too.
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2 NIV) He is right. Even if you have jumped His bandwagon, He is the one who has it all figured out. Not us.
I’m merely commenting many of us could think before we speak (or type).
Enjoy His day!!
There is great word picture I have heard so many times (most recently from Dave Ramsey): Think of a pond. Water flows into it, but there’s no outlet. It doesn’t go anywhere. I just sits. What happens? It STINKS. It gets GROSS. Instead of being a place that draws life near it, it becomes something to avoid. So basically…… Don’t be gross. Don’t let stuff flow into you, clutching them so tightly that they don’t dare leave you. On the other hand, think about water than flows. It brings life. It has POWER (it can even erode rock). There is life in generosity and power in what it can do.
Generosity isn’t something that happens when you hit a certain level of income, a certain schedule, a certain place in life. Its a life-long attitude and a discipline that needs to be exercised. There will ALWAYS be excuses to not be generous. I’m too busy. I just can’t with the kids. I didn’t get enough sleep. I haven’t had enough ‘me’ time. This one gets to me. I look at Jesus and the only ‘me’ time he had alone was when he was praying. Yes, there needs to be balance, and yes there needs to be health for your own family. However, it can’t just be an excuse.
Being poor isn’t an excuse to not be generous. I say this from experience. Having no money doesn’t mean you have nothing to give. You are still able to listen, you’re body can still work, you can pray, and you are still able to share what you have. I stayed with a tribe near Arusha, Tanzania, many years ago. We would go do deliveries to families with tons of kids and sick or dead or absent parents. Yet they offered us whatever they had. They didn’t have food stamps or WIC or even a grocery store. Yet shared what they had. I think sometimes when people have a low income, there is a only receiving mentality (even as Christians). After all, the Bible talks about giving to the poor a lot. However, the Bible never says the poor are exempt from everything else- tithing, offering, giving, blessing, working, sacrificing. The poor should be excited at the measure of grace they have received and let it overflow (I’m saying this from living it!).
I’m not going to lie, I have been this person before- you watch someone’s blessing and that green little monster brings out the 3 year old in you. The internal dialogue isn’t always pretty. “Must be nice. Why do THEY get that! I have been working so hard and what have THEY done! I deserve it. They don’t deserve it. [insert personal mumblings here]”. What is it in our human nature that doesn’t want to just be happy that the Lord blessed someone? Or conversely, something bad happens and we ask “Ugh! Why me!?!”
I used to struggle with this so much. You know what it is? its a joy stealer. Its a division causer. its a judgment starter. It is a little crack that the enemy can use to get a foothold and tear you down. It makes you bitter, when you look at someone else’s life and expect that their blessings would be right for you. Which is not always true. Ask me how I know…
“Do you begrudge my generosity?” (Matt. 20:15)
“Every good and perfect gift is from God our Father.” (James 1:17) Its interesting that it doesn’t say every good and perfect gift comes from the Father, if they deserve it. Or if it is deemed worthy by everyone around them. or if they struggled long enough for it. or if they have been good enough. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. Directly. Not my call. And I’m so thankful for that.
Blessings can be our talents and abilities too. Have you ever thought “Ugh I wish I could sing like that… I wish I could preach like that…I wish I could encourage someone like that…. “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with youra faith; 7if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,b do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” (Rom. 12:4-8) Of note, He doesn’t say one is better than the other. Just do what He has given you to do!
There is so much freedom and joy when you take your eyes off of other people and their blessings, and fix them on Him. There is genuine joy for others’ blessings. He shows you how He has blessed you and when you have nothing you’re comparing it to, there is contentment. I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phill. 4:11-13)
Sometimes blessings are a direct result of hard work too. You reap what you sow. If you aren’t working, aren’t trying, and wasting all your money, why would you be bitter for being broke? If you aren’t seeking after God, reading His word, spending time with Him, why would you think that your relationship with Him is going to be super strong? You cant fake the funk on that one. If you have put in that work, walk in the fruit of it.
Don’t begrudge your own blessing either!……. Why would I begrudge a blessing for myself? Ever felt guilty? unworthy? ashamed to actually walk in a calling on your your life? I recognize this isn’t a thing everyone deals with, but it is something I have to submit to Him regularly. If every good and perfect gift is from Him, why in the world do I feel guilt? Thats something Satan uses, its a tool. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy. That includes our joy in Him. And the fruit that can come from it.
If you’re reading this, you’re blessed. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11) Keep in mind too, the answer isn’t always ‘yes’ for what we ask for. Just look for what he’s already covered you with. He knows us so intimately. He knows what we need, he knows what we want, he knows what we can handle. Walk in that!
Sometimes I like to daydream or think about things. About how clean I will get the house…tomorrow. What great shape I will be in…. next summer. About the great faith I will have… when I’m older. Its great to have goals and focus, but I’m not thinking about the work it takes to get there. If I want to be in shape, I need to exercise and eat right. Repeatedly. Consistently. Long term. It must be a priority over other things.
There is a lot of commitment and dedication that has to come when you’re reaching a goal. That makes perfect sense to us for physical goals. For things we see, its easy to believe. But we don’t always make that connection when it comes to our walk with Christ. Something happens and we act like we’ve been smited (smoted? smitten? whatever) and throw our hands up like God has no idea whats going on.
We want to be powerful people of faith, but when life happens and our faith actually gets tested we respond in a million ways other than confident faith (blogging to myself here). Do you get filled with fear, anger, hopelessness, sadness? Do you back away, circle up the wagons, and huddle in your own little corner? Do you lash out at whoever gets close? It HURTS. But these things force us to make a choice: trust more or fear more. When we are taken to a place where we need to trust, we grow. But to actually do it, we have to work.
Faith doesn’t just bubble up out of you one morning before breakfast. It grows with hard work. By reading Scripture (DAILY), talking to Him AND listening for Him, worshiping Him, and being with His people. You can’t grow in godly character without knowing God’s character. You can’t know him without spending time with Him and seeing what He has done and is doing.
Every single great sports film involves that great little montage of the main character(s) working hard with the inspirational music in the background, going from a motley crew to a finely oiled machine. You know you get excited for them. You’re cheering for them. You know they can do it if they stick with it! You feel victorious with them!
We want our struggles wrapped up in a nice 90 minute piece, critically acclaimed and full of witty banter. We want our problems to have a nice expedient solution. But what about when it doesn’t happen like that? When that dream job isn’t achieved? When the love story didn’t last 60 years? When the miraculous healing didn’t happen?
“Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave in the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double minded and unstable in all they do.” (James 1:2-8)
Sometimes it’s easy to read a verse like this and think in big generalized statements, rather than personal. Consider it pure joy…when that coworker is a jerk to you for no reason. Consider it pure joy when your job isn’t your job anymore. Consider it pure joy when your kid is sick and you can’t fix it. Consider it pure joy when____________. Everyone has a situation. Why can we have joy when it seems like we shouldn’t? Because He promised us that it will help us grow, that we aren’t alone, and that He loves us. God doesn’t lie, so we can rest in that. There is no situation that God doesn’t know is going to happen. He knows before you get there and He doesn’t allow anything to happen that His grace can’t cover.
Get to work! You got this!