There are times & situations when I don’t know what to do. There are also obstacles that seem to be unmovable. I can see where I want to be & what needs to be done, but I don’t always know how to get there or how to do what needs to be done.
These kinds of struggles can be experienced in our jobs, personal disciplines, education, relationships, finances, health, etc. So what to do?
Here are some things I’ve found to be helpful:
Pray more, worry less: ask for God’s intervention / interruption to do what seems to be impossible
God’s direction: what would God have you say or do in these struggles?
Active decisions: make intentional decisions to trust God, to speak faith filled words & to choose the high road.
There are lots of benefits to following Jesus! We have access to healing, supernatural power, prosperity, favor & lots more. As Americans who live in a consumer culture, it’s easy to fall prey to the deception that being a Christian revolves around getting ones needs met, full stop. While being a follower of Jesus certainly affords some perks, the reality of following Jesus is that we are to lay down our lives, love Jesus & love others, a very sacrificial lifestyle.
Let’s be careful that we don’t get seduced by ease & convenience at the expense of mature & committed!
I was talking with a friend this weekend about being mature. He made a comment that settled into my mind for lots of thinking. He made the statement that being an “older Christian” was the same as being a “mature Christian”. This is where I paused to think. I started to think about what it means to be a mature Christian and I thought about this in light of knowing lots of folk who have been Christians for multiple decades. Does time equal maturity?
If time and age don’t equal mature, what does it mean to be a mature follower of Jesus? Here’s a short answer: a person who is more & more Christlike is an increasingly mature follower of Jesus. If you’d like to ruminate on some sturdy ruffage on this topic, consider taking some time to read & digest Hebrew 5:11-6:8 🙂
Let’s endeavor to be not only aged followers of Jesus, but more importantly mature believers, full of Christlike fruit in our daily living 🙂
Our culture endeavors to condition us to be strong, independent & resourceful. These adjectives also appeal to our flesh in contrast to weakness, dependence & being needy.
I’m exploring this weakness thing having recently sustained a concussion from a snowboarding accident. For what it’s worth, I’d suggest putting the concussion experience on your “un-bucket” list because of experiencing weakness in one’s mental faculties.
With that being said, here’s some helpful ideas related to embracing rather than avoiding weakness:
admitting weakness is a starting point for welcoming Heavenly Help into our lives
leaning into the Holy Spirit is an adventure that exceeds anything I’ve ever experienced in the human context
When I come home from an Int’l trip, I’m often hungry for a hamburger or a salad – familiar food that are in my home culture. This isn’t to say that I don’t like ethnic food. I TOTALLY love to try new foods in various cultures. Some of the foods I’ve tried were not that tasty when I first tried them, but the more I ate them, the more I liked these different foods.
Sometimes I think spiritual food can be similar. I find that there are some spiritual foods that are tasty & appealing. For example, we like where the Bible says that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us in Phil 4:13. But some verses aren’t quite as appealing. For example, James 1:4 says that we should let endurance have its perfect work so that we can be perfect & complete, not lacking anything.
Let’s be certain that we let the Holy Spirit cultivate our appetites so that we eat spiritual food that helps us grow & become mature followers of Jesus 🙂
“Extra pickles & no onions” – my burger, my way ala Burger King’s mantra: have it your way. So much of our daily living is structured around being a satisfied customer. This is true to the point that we can almost be conditioned to believe that we get to have everything our own way, including our spirituality.
But alas, such a perspective in relation to following Jesus is inherently dysfunctional. Jesus said that whoever would follow Him must lay down their life & take up their cross. While there is tremendous satisfaction in following Jesus, walking with Jesus is also the path of total sacrifice. Maybe we can start our relationship with Jesus in ala carte mode, getting to pick & choose what we like, but becoming increasingly mature in Jesus is more about being consumed than being a consumer 🙂
Practice is an interesting word: it’s what we do to learn a new skill, it’s how we develop success, it’s how we make mistakes without quitting and practice has lots more benefits! But sometimes I struggle to practice trusting God. I struggle for lots of reasons:
hurts from the past,
my own weaknesses,
I can’t see the future,
I don’t trust people
So for me, trusting God requires practice. In relation to practice, these are a few helpful tips:
form: wrong form can create all kind of dysfunctions; the form of trusting God is actively deciding to lean on nothing or no one more than we lean on God (Prov 3:5-6)
consistency: I find that choosing to trust God is a daily & sometimes hourly decision; when I switch my trust off of God & onto something or someone else, then I’ve stopped practicing
character: it seems like we often trust based on outcomes & because God is sovereign, we don’t always get what we want & so it follows that we can have some resulting challenges to trust God; rather than trusting God based on the outcomes & results which can change in a blink, let’s decide to practice trusting God based on God’s character – Who God is (kind, just, compassionate, loving, righteous, holy, . . . . );
The Bible is such an essential ingredient in trusting God because the Bible frames for us God’s character and helps us recognize God’s presence & fingerprints in our daily living – thereby helping us to practice trusting God 🙂
What suggestions would you offer to help us practice trusting God?
Memories are important ingredients for learning & sometimes the lessons we apply from various memories aren’t very helpful. For example, I remember an occasion as a kid when my dad came home from a later afternoon walk with our new puppy & my dad was sobbing & totally busted up. I could barely figure out through his broken words & tears that our new puppy had been run over by a car & was dead. My dad explained that our puppy had darted in front of a car into a busy street during rush hour traffic and was run over.
To this day, the place where my dog was hit still has negative associations for me & I find myself subconsciously avoiding that intersection. That negative memory has shaped my behavior & I’d venture to guess that you may have some similar memories that shape your current behaviors & values.
I think it’s super important that our experiences and memories teach us valuable take aways, but let’s be sure that we choose the right lessons.
Some important memory lessons could include:
mistakes and failures are merely practice and lessons for some great success, likely just around the corner
communion: Jesus told His disciples at the Last Supper, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” – may we never forget the infinite love Jesus expressed in His sacrifice for us
forgiveness – practice makes perfect
fond memories can be helpful motivations for endurance & perseverance 🙂
Back in the dark ages when I was in high school, we had this film kind of thing in my US history class where the teacher would put on a cassette tape with a microfiche slide show & when the tape beeped, he’d advance the microfiche to the next slide. Being the very intelligent & cheeky students that we were, we quickly learned that our teacher had a slight hearing impediment & we could fake the “beep” and he’d advance the film to the next slide, thereby finishing the pictures before the tape was done explaining what we were supposed to be looking at. Needless to say, this was heaps of fun for us & quite flustering for him – oh the joys of being mischevious 🙂
Sometimes I think I try to do the same thing with God – beeping to move the lesson forward at a more rapid pace, so we can get finished with the lesson & move onto something more pleasant. Beep.
Let’s trust that God’s timing, God’s lessons and God’s pacing are all working together good things in our hearts, for God’s glory & our maturity – smile 🙂
I just had the privilege to catch up w an old friend & it was delightful to chat over coffee & remember some fun times together. It was also interesting to see how each of us has changed, grown and matured.
In all of or relationships, there are things that can bug us about the other person & clearly we have plenty of our own weakspots that can be very bothersome.
Let’s give each other grace to grow & then enjoy the journey. Only Jesus is the completed human masterpiece. The rest of us are works in progress 🙂
A few of my kids went to school this morning after a heated conversation. Both had tears in their eyes & it rips me up as their mom to see this tension and strife. Which makes me wonder how God “feels” when we are yucky with each other. The truth is that any relationship worth it’s weight will have to work through conflict. So here are a few pointers to help with this challenge:
benefit of the doubt: assume the best rather than blame the worst
double standard: be mindful that you don’t just the other person by actions but ourselves by intentions
breathing space: sometimes a “cool down” can bring some clarity and options that aren’t available when we are in the heat of a conflict
be generous: seek to understand before being understood
forgive well: practice makes perfect
conclusion: sometimes the best outcome is to agree to disagree without being disagreeable 🙂
This Summer, I’m undertaken the adventure with my children of training their weekly domestic organization skills, translation: house cleaning. To make progress on this adventure, I’ve organized some checklists so that it will be clear to the responsible individual when they’ve adequately completed their assignments. Needless to say, the checklists aren’t popular & sometimes, they don’t even like the domestic organization adventure, imagine that ,)
All of that is to say that I guess it’s not really that strange on occasion that we may not like some of the things that God does. At bare minimum, Hebrews 12 tells us that God disciplines us because God loves us. Discipline, correction and training aren’t always pleasant but most of the time, we like the outcomes, just not the process. So let’s stay in love with Jesus, keeping walking with Him through various processes, training and development. For me, staying in love with Jesus helps make everything better, even training my kids through the exciting domestic organization adventure 🙂
I’ve been thinking about going through some difficult times & situations which aren’t very fun. If you’re like me, I tend to want to avoid these difficulties. However, when I think about Joseph in Genesis, he went through some extremely ugly situations – sold into slavery, unjustly accused, imprisoned, ignored & more. Nevertheless, even though he went through lots of “uneasy” & uncomfortable, he didn’t quit & decide to take an easy path.
But many times, what is not easy, is essential to realize God’s potential for our lives. So if you’re in a non-easy season or situation, be encouraged that God is cultivating your potential for something really amazing!!
As a mom with 3 wonderful kids, I’m super high on my kids. I think they’re amazing, funny, intelligent, kind, wonderful and they can almost walk on water, almost ,) With that being said, I’ve noticed that my gentle efforts to wake them up every morning are sometimes not as effective as something less gentle – we call this the defcon 5-1 approach 🙂
While it’s unfortunate, it is also true that we sometimes learn the best and grow the most through hardship and struggle. Even though I want to insulate my kids & protect them from every single hardship & struggle, this isn’t always what is in their longterm best interests. Perhaps God sees us with the same perspective, knowing that we often grow and mature the most when we wrestle with hardships and struggle. Perhaps this is why James says that we’re to be grateful for adversities – ouch!
We’ve all had the experience of driving along & someone flips us off or does something rude that was stupid. We have a choice with these kinds of petty actions – we can let them stay small & fade into the past or we can get wound up about them & carry them into the present. Small things need to stay small, be that rude comments, gestures, attacking words, etc. Don’t magnify things that need to stay small. Of course I’m not advocating being a door mat, but I think that we can easily get caught up & distracted on things that should stay small.
On the flip side, let’s be sure to magnify important things like genuine love, Jesus’ presence, grace and forgiveness. Let’s stay focused on letting the Holy Spirit continue to work in our lives to make us big people! 🙂
Stay tuned here as well for updates about my upcoming Saving Moses trip to Angola next week!
Have you ever been short changed, only to make this discovery when it was too late? This used to really big me, so I would do my best to remember to stay & count my change the moment I received it. The important part was to STAY & count the change.
I’ve been thinking lately about making some important changes in my life & I’ve come to the conclusion that commitment precedes change. A person who doesn’t commit often never changes but they will frequently change their surroundings to avoid commitments that would require them to change. I know that sounds convoluted, but simply put: change is often a consequence of commitment & a lack of growth & maturity is often a reflection of non-commitment.
If you want to avoid being short changed, be sure to hang around & count your change ,)