Changing a tire, smoke alarms, sermon advice, editing with writing, parenting struggles, matching clothes, staying patient, . . . . these things barely scratch the surface of areas where I need help. Admitting that I need help is a very big struggle for me. So when Jesus said in John 14, that He would send His followers another Helper, I always thought, “That’s nice. I hope some folk benefit from that help.” I never really thought I needed “help” until I began digging into Jesus’ words to His disciples at the Last Supper in John 14-16.
Having studied and prayed about Jesus’ words in these chapters, I have become unraveled and undone, full stop. So I wrote a book about this & you should buy it, now (pre-order) before it becomes back-ordered. Actually, order at least 5 books because it’s awesome for small group discussions, book clubs and giving away as gifts
I’ve frequently thought of faith being this clean, powerful, superhero, handsome, supernatural ideal. Like if faith was a person, it would be stylish, muscular, manicured, well appointed, organized & timely – maybe like Captain America in The Avengers. Indeed, when I read about the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, they all seem powerful, competent, effective & generally great role models, mostly.
In actual truth, when I look at these heroes more deeply as well as my daily attempts to live a faithful & faith-filled life, it often feels messy, murky & muddy. The outcomes of faith are very appealing but the walk & work of faith isn’t quite as pristine & manicured. It seems to me that faith is both a walk & a process. We love the results but sometimes we want to escape the work, uncertainty, mess & process that precede the outcomes.
Just because faith can be messy, murky & muddy doesn’t mean we should quit. Indeed, the process is worth the results
Noah waited in the ark 150 days during the flood cataclysm. When I read that recently, it caught my attention & I began to imagine what that was like for him, surrounded with his family & the animal hordes traveling with him in the ark. I would suspect there was heaps of panic initially, probably fear, anxiety, uncertainty & likely some worry to boot. Being “trapped” in the ark while the earth was deluged from above & below, water thundering on the ark with animals & humans pitching back & forth – this doesn’t sound very appealing. But the other option, drowning in the deluge, wasn’t such a whippy alternative. So the people in the ark could chose, initially between living or dying. Clearly, they chose to stay alive. From that decision, then they needed to manage their fear, uncertainty & anxiety, pausing 150 days in the ark.
Sometimes we find ourselves in “pause” mode & maybe see / hear disasters happening all around us. In these situations, I find my salvation alone in keeping my focus on Jesus & my mind set on the Holy Spirit – Rom 8:5. Listening to & watching the circumstances around us can be debilitating. Make the long term decision to keep your thoughts & focus on Jesus, no matter what
The other day I surprisingly arrived early for a party & was waiting on the fringes for the festivities to begin. There weren’t many people there yet, which was good for me, so I could get my introvert self in socializing mode. As I was prepping myself, this random dude walked over & was super friendly. Initially, I don’t think I was very cordial, doing that introvert porcupine thing. But as we talked, I learned that the guy had studied Biblical Greek – YAHOOO!!!! Furthermore, as we talked, I learned that he’d also studied Biblical Hebrew – an added boon!!!! He was WAY smarter than me & I totally enjoyed talking with him & learning new stuff.
The party turned out to be totally enjoyable &
when I finally left, I felt God wink at me with a pleasing smile.
Seems to me that God enjoys blessing us with stuff He knows that we will uniquely enjoy – making a deep connection with us not only in big things but also in seemingly small perks along the way.
Have you ever waited to acquire something you wanted? It seems to me that waiting & wanting go together like peas & carrots, almost complementary. Things that I’ve waited for & wanted include: a new coat, a camera lense, opening nightcare in India, surgery on my shoulder & lots of other stuff.
Recently, I read about sin waiting for & wanting Cain in Genesis 4, related to the tension between Abel & Cain about their respective sacrifices. God confronted Cain in verse 7 and told him, “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Sin was waiting for & wanting Cain but God told him that he needed to master sin & not be mastered by sin.
I honestly think that sin also waits for & wants us as well. Sin wants to control us, creating chaos & destruction in our lives if we cave in to it’s desires. Cain surrendered to sin and lived a vagrant and tormented life. Let’s learn from Cain’s downfall & master sin rather than let sin master us. Indeed, Romans 8:6 says, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” Just because sin is waiting for & wanting you doesn’t mean that you have to be it’s victim. Let the Holy Spirit strengthen you on the inside to overcome the seductions of sin!
All the while these big events are happening throughout the world, here in Denver we have a snow day, so my kids are enjoying sledding and the boon of some extra free time. Personally, I like the shoveling exercise & the opportunity to reflect upon both big and small events.
Whatever is happening for you today, let’s remain committed to pray for the community in which we live, the city / town where we work & our nation. Let’s not be afraid of the future and let’s keep our focus and confidence in our all-knowing and all-powerful God, who loves us far more than we could grasp with our finite minds.
Our heavenly Father demonstrated the immensity of His love for us by sending His only Son in the flesh to live out the human experience, expressing genuine love throughout His life.