I like easy in all things: recipes, travel, exercise, conversations, studying, etc. In contrast, stuff that’s hard isn’t as appealing to me. So when Elisha told Naaman, the leper, to dip in the Jordan river to be cleansed from his leprosy, it was an easy solution to a long term painful disease. But Naaman was upset that Elisha didn’t do something different, maybe more difficult, complicated or rigorous. Ultimately, Naaman obeyed Elisha’s directive & was healed from leprosy.
Obeying God is often a matter of doing one easy step, realizing that coaching the mental game can be more challenging than the actual obedience.
When the dust settles, take the easy step of simple obedience to God, regardless of the mental games & gyrations.
“He’s too heavy. This is a stupid idea. It’s awkward to carry him. There are too many people. This won’t work. I’m tired. We might drop him. We’d have to rip open the roof.”
There’s a paralytic dude in Luke 5 whom Jesus heals. But this story isn’t quite that simple. Indeed, when I thought about what happened to get this paralytic dude in front of Jesus, it pretty much floored me (no pun intended). In these verses, some guys decided to carry the paralytic to Jesus for healing. But it turned out to be more complicated than the simple steps of: pick up, carry & get him healed.
The men who set the paralytic dude in front of Jesus decided that nothing would deter them from getting the man in front of Jesus, NOT:
his paralysis which made him heavy & cumbersome
the crowds that made it impossible to get the paralyzed man in the door (or possible window)
hoisting the paralyzed man on the roof
tearing open the roof
lowering a paralytic from the roof to get him smack in front of Jesus
Perhaps it may take some extra effort to help get someone in front of Jesus, but be certain that an encounter with genuine Jesus is worth any effort, sacrifice or inconvenience 🙂
There are lots of things that can be difficult: being consistent with exercise, missions trips, hostile or dicey conversations, regulating ones eating habits & lots more. I don’t like to do tough stuff, nor did Jesus. I say this because of His words in Gethsemane, “If possible, please take this cup from Me.”
So how do we go about doing tough stuff? Here are a few suggestions & I’d be keen to get your ideas in the comments as well!
Keep the end goal in mind: what is your desired outcome?
Be wholly present in the difficulty because often these struggles need our whole attention, energy & talents
Pray: divine help is always an upgrade!
Surrender to God’s will even when it conflicts with your desires 🙂
This picture is from a pretty shady neighborhood in Phnom Penh Cambodia. When you go into this apartment complex, it can be super creepy & intimidating. But it’s full of people & this is why it’s great because Jesus loves people!
Doing love well is an essential ingredient to following Jesus based on John 13:35. But it’s not easy, sometimes. It’s not easy to love a drug addict mom who neglects her kids to feed her addiction. It’s not easy to love when your body doesn’t feel well. It’s not easy to love someone who can be prickly & cantankerous. It’s not always easy to love.
But this is what Jesus says is the defining mark of those who follow Him – that we will be recognized by our love for one another. Let’s choose to love & let God love others through us, even when it’s not easy 🙂
Kind of impossible: a few years ago I was trying to make my husband a banana cream pie (my first attempt) & instead of toasting meringue (which my husband hates), I topped it with homemade whipped cream & then I tried to toast the whipped cream. Suffice it to say that we had banana cream soup & not pie. I learned from this adventure that it’s impossible to toast whipped cream without some scientific intervention.
Just because something is hard or difficult doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. Indeed, in my relationship with Jesus, I’m learning that most of what He asks from me always seems to meander through both areas of difficult & impossible, thereby forcing me to grow in trusting Jesus more than trying to do what He says in my own strength or wisdom
With Jesus, things can be difficult be never impossible, except maybe for toasting whipped cream ,)
There’s nothing supernatural about doing things in which you already have natural talent & ability. For example, to some people, my ability to absorb or pick up a language may seem supernatural but to me, it’s very natural because God has given me some talent in this area & it comes to me relatively easily.
The flip side of this is that those things at which I’m not as gifted nor talented are a struggle for me. For example, if you talk with me about business stuff (strategic planning, organizational structure, operational systems, etc), I’ll look at you like a deer in headlights. I know full well that when I “get” to put on the business thinking hat, I’m entering a supernatural zone, requiring God’s steady hand, help, wisdom & engagement. Just because we aren’t naturally gifted at something doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want us to be involved in such areas. Always remember that our “supernatural” is God’s natural 🙂
When my kids were in preschool, I went to the parent intro day & I learned a great lesson watching one of the teachers who was working with a 4 year old. The 4 year old was having a difficult time trying to do some work with her scissors & when the teacher circled around the room to check on everyone, the little girl said to the teacher, “I can’t do this!!” The teacher was super patient and stooped to help the little girl, but said very firmly, “Honey, never say, ‘I can’t.’ Instead say, ‘I’ll try’ or ‘I need help’ but never say, ‘I can’t.'”
This lesson has helped me in more situations than I can count. We often say in our minds or actions, “I can’t” when something is really difficult, or when we’re tired, or when we can’t figure out a problem, etc. We truly may have reached our limit, but with Christ nothing is impossible and we can do whatever He tells us to do. We can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us – Philip 4:13!!
I get asked the question alot about balancing family, travel, ministry, church, work, etc. and I think its a GREAT question that I also frequently ask. I’m comfortable to share my thoughts on the balance topic, with the foundational understanding that I don’t see myself in any way as an expert on the subject, nor would I even pretend to be all-knowing on this really important question. With that being said, here are some of my thoughts:
for me, balance is often a moment by moment & decision by decision activity
being flexible is essential for balance
focusing on what is most essential helps me to keep my balance
balance sometimes means that I have to re-shuffle schedules, plans & activities (with this re-shuffling, its important not to get cranky about a change of plans)
for me, margin is essential for balance – when I fill time & energy to the maximum, I find it hard to concentrate & make good choices
balance requires wisdom – a gift that God gives to us when we ask Him with faith
Balance – a very good goal that requires agility, wisdom & nimble choices 🙂
You have to be really smart for Greek & I’m not sure I’m of such a high intellectual caliber to get it. I’m in my 3rd semester of Greek & my class meets weekly for about 2.5 hours on Monday nights, translating parts of Romans. Again, you have to be really smart for this class. Tonight, I’m not feeling very smart. Its probably because I’m tired, at least I’m hoping this excuse will make things look better in the morning. I just don’t feel very smart. Do you know that Paul doesn’t use verbs in some of his sentences? That’s about all I want to say on this topic.