Copyright 2015 AC Williams LLC

Don’t be afraid of commitment

While I was camping in the wilds of Colorado last week, I woke up in the middle of the night and had to go to the bathroom. At home, it’s pretty easy to get out of bed, tromp downstairs to our 100-year-old home’s single bathroom, and then return to bed. But when you’re camping?

First, it was freezing. Either low 40s or high 30s, so I had lots of layers on, and lots of layers always make it more complicated to navigate when you’re bundled up inside a sleeping bag. But I didn’t just have my sleeping bag. I also had a gigantic fluffy TARDIS blanket that I’d cuddled up with inside my sleeping bag because even with all my layers on, I was still freezing. Second, once I managed to get out of the sleeping bag, I had to put my shoes on, unzip the first layer of my tent, unzip the second layer of my tent, and get up off the ground. I needed my flashlight too and my extra sweatshirt. Once all that was accomplished, I still needed to hike then 1/8th of a mile (or so) to the vault toilets.

That was just to get there. Getting back into the sleeping back took just as much work. The lesson I learned? No matter what you’re doing when you’re camping, whether it’s sleeping or cooking or walking or even getting up at night, it takes commitment, because everything you do takes 10 times the work.

Copyright 2015 AC Williams LLC

My tent set up at Happy Meadows Campground, west of Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verses are Colossians 3:23-24.

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

Our world today is scared of the word commitment. Granted, it is a scary word and an even scarier concept–to be devoted to a principle or an ideal or a person or a company. It takes a lot of trust and a lot of forgiveness sometimes, and it takes a lot of work. A lot of work.

Being committed to something, person or object, requires that you care about it more than you care about yourself and your personal ambitions. Being committed means that you’re not selfish. When you’re willing to go all in for someone or something, it means that no matter the cost, you’ll do what’s necessary.

It’s important to do what God says matters, but there isn’t really a Bible verse that says what job you should work or what career you should pursue or what college degree you should get. God’s given us each our own skill sets and dreams and desires, so we each need to do what we think He’s calling us to do as individuals. The end goal just should be to glorify Him in all that we do.

See that word? Whatever? Whatever you do, do it like you’re working for God. Whether it’s work or church or family or friends, whether it’s your relationship with your parents or your kids or your spouse, whatever you’re doing today, do it the way God says is right. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you. Maybe you think it will open you up to ridicule or make you a target. But if God says it’s right, do it. It doesn’t matter what people say.

That’s what being committed means. You do it even if it isn’t fun. You do it even if it means more work for you. It’s not about what you’ll get out of it. It’s about how much glory you can give God before, during, and afterward, trusting that the reward God will bestow is worth far much more than anything you can earn down here.

God’s looking for people who will do what He asks. You can ask questions. You can have doubts. Just don’t give up. Don’t let the amount of work facing you convince you that it won’t be worth it. God makes everything worth it.

The soap dispenser that doesn’t work

Last week I was in Las Vegas in the strangest hotel I’ve ever stayed in. This week, I’m in Chicago, at one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed in. So I’m afraid my trade show illustrations are going to continue for another week. And again, I’ve got a story from a bathroom!

I was in the airport in Atlanta (yes, I had to fly through Atlanta to get to Chicago from Wichita), and their faucets and sinks and towel dispensers were all motion activated. I got the faucet going and shoved my hand under the soap dispenser, and it made a thunking noise. But no soap came out.

I tried it again. And again. And again. No soap.

I figured it must be empty, so I moved to the next sink. Same thing. Water ran fine but no soap. Just a thunk-thunk-thunk-wheeze. So I moved to the next sink.

Same thing! I had to go to two more sinks to get to a soap dispenser that worked, but at that sink, the water faucet didn’t work!

Just looking at the super nice ladies room in the Atlanta airport, everything looked fine and in perfect working order, but half the soap dispensers weren’t working.

768022_64244093Today’s verse is 2 Timothy 4:7.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

The difficult part about following God is following through. You can say you’re committed to God. You can say you’ve dedicated your life to Him. But when real life hits, it’s not as easy to do it as it is to say it.

It’s easy to look like a Christian, but it’s not as easy to do what a Christian does. It takes dedication and commitment to Christ.

On the outside, you can look all shiny and perfect and in working order, but when the time comes to actually do the work you were designed to do, you might choke. Because it’s hard. Doing what God’s called us to do is the greatest adventure you can ever imagine, but it’s not easy because our world is broken. It’s worth it, yes, but it will never be easy.

You can go to Bible college. You can go to church every day. You can know the Bible forwards and backwards. But that doesn’t mean when God tells you to do something uncomfortable that you’re automatically going to jump in with both feet. You might end up exactly like that soap dispenser in the Atlanta airport–looking good but not actually functional.

If you want to achieve God’s best for you in this life, you have to be willing to do the things He tells you to do when He tells you to do them. You have to be committed. You have to finish the race you start.

People don’t get recognition for stopping a race in the middle of the run. I have friends who run marathons, and they train and train and train and train for ridiculous hours to get their bodies to the point where they can run a race. After they train, they don’t stop in the middle of the race because they get tired. Even if they finish last, they still finish.

Welcome to the Christian life. Following Jesus isn’t easy, and He never promised it would be. But He did promise He’d never leave us, and that it would be an awesome life. You’ll just never experience it if you aren’t totally committed to doing what He’s called you to do.

So think about your commitment level. Think about where you are in the race you’re running. If you’re still breathing, you haven’t finished it yet, but you may not be running anymore. You might not even be walking. You might have stopped somewhere along the road because trying to get to the finish line is just too much trouble.

It’s not. You’re just seeing the finish line through the eyes of someone who isn’t running the race. To someone who doesn’t care, finishing the race will never matter.

Don’t be a soap dispenser that doesn’t work. Don’t be a race-runner who’s standing still. Be committed. Follow Jesus where He leads you, when He leads you, how He leads you. It won’t be easy, but it will be awesome.

A giant wolf spider who took up residence in my bathroom cabinet, Haven, KS

Running from trouble gets you nowhere

My house is full of spiders. Granted, it’s not as bad this year as it’s been in previous years, but it’s still pretty bad. I snapped this cell phone shot of a wolf spider who was living in my bathroom cabinet.

Believe it or not, I almost left him alone because wolf spiders are the natural enemies of brown recluses, one of the most poisonous spiders ever. And my house is loaded with brown recluses. Seriously. I have a ton of them. But they are recluses for a reason and usually run away .

In any case, the wolf spider didn’t make it. But in case you’re wondering what this has to do with anything, I was sitting at the computer in my hotel in Bellevue, Washington, and a spider came crawling down the wall. And I’m pretty positive that it was a brown recluse. At least, it looked like one, and it behaved like one.

And I couldn’t help but laugh because the rainy, cold Pacific Northwest was the last place I thought I’d find another brown recluse. I usually only find them in the hot, dryness of summer in Kansas.

But it made me think about something. When I see a spider now, I squash them. Or I spray them. Or (in some rare cases) I leave them alone. But I made the decision years ago on how to handle them and have taught myself through years of experience how to deal with them. So whenever a see a spider, I know what to do.

Now what if I hadn’t done that? What if I hadn’t trained myself how to handle spiders? I’d go running and screaming every time I saw one, no matter where I went. So I’d run and scream at home, and I’d run and scream at my hotel in Seattle. The spiders aren’t going to change. There are spiders everywhere. But how I respond to them can.

It’s just like troubles in our lives. We all have them. They just look different. But when you run away from them, you’re just going to find the same problem farther down the road. You can’t escape them. You have to learn how to face them.

A giant wolf spider who took up residence in my bathroom cabinet, Haven, KS

A giant wolf spider who took up residence in my bathroom cabinet, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Lamentations 3:30.

Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them
    and accept the insults of their enemies.

Dealing with people who don’t like you can be really difficult. And I’m not saying to fall down and allow people to beat you up. That’s not the point.

Sometimes, it’s better to be the one who backs off. Sometimes, it’s better to be humble. Sometimes, it’s better to be the one who takes it on the jaw.

As Christ-followers, we’re strong enough to take it. God gives us the strength to go through anything. And we need to remember that in this life, we’re going to have trouble. We aren’t going to find the perfect solution to living on this Earth because this isn’t our home. And if we keep packing up and moving on to every new situation that comes our way, we won’t learn the lesson God is trying to teach us through the struggles He has allowed into our path.

You’ve heard that the grass is always greener on the other side? It’s not. It’s the same grass. It’s just your perspective on it. Grass is grass wherever you go, and it’s subject to the same problems and difficulties everywhere.

So if you don’t learn how to handle the problems you’re facing today, you won’t know what do to when the same problems pop up a few miles down the road.

So stop running. Face your troubles head on. Let God help you, let Him make you strong, and let Him show you what you need to learn.

Spiders come in every shape and size, but they all squash the same. Learn how to deal with the small ones, and the big ones won’t be that scary.