“I fight from victory, not for victory.
(Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited)
“I fight from victory, not for victory.
(Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited)
Ever been in one of those seasons in life where nothing feels stable? It’s like you’re trying to walk along the beach as the tide is rolling out, taking all the sand with it from under your feet. You aren’t sure where to stand because no ground is solid enough to support your weight. It’s an awkward dance, roaming the beach while the sand slides out from under you.
That’s sort of where life is for me right now. And it’s not just me. I know several people who are in similar predicaments. Life has thrown a curve ball they never expected. The job didn’t end up being a good fit. The job opportunity fell flat. People have passed away. New children have been born. New friendships are beginning, and some friendships are falling apart. New stories are starting, and others are ending.
Just about everyone I know is facing major transitions in their lives, and as I sit here this morning trying to knock out several thousand words on a novel, I’m tempted to despair. So much hurt and pain is happening right now. So many people are struggling with friendships and relationships and jobs and finances. People are scared and uncertain and feeling scattered. And I want to fix it. But I can’t. I can’t even fix my own problems. And some days it’s enough to make me want to give up.
That’s when I remember I’m doing this all wrong. In those moments I have to step back and remind myself who exactly is in charge here. It’s not me. And it’s not you either. None of us have the power to change much of anything in our lives, not without help. When we get to these points in life (and all of us do), we have to hold on to something. And the only anchor worth holding onto is God.
God doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6). He’s the same today as He was 10,000 years ago. He’ll be the same 10,000 years from now. Not like us. We change all the time, finding new and improved ways to identify ourselves or uncover value in ourselves. And because God doesn’t change, we can trust that He’ll always keep His promises (Numbers 23:19).
So life hasn’t turned out the way you thought it would. Join the club. Peoples’ lives rarely work out the way we expect them to. That’s not a reason to give up or stop believing that God can do something miraculous. That’s when God does His best work.
Maybe something you thought was certain fell apart, and you’re hurting. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to not be okay. Nobody is okay, not really. As long as the world is broken and people are broken, “okay” is just a word we say to cover up what we’re actually feeling inside. But just because we’re not okay doesn’t mean God isn’t able. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
It doesn’t always help to remember that God’s got everything under control. Sometimes you’re just so hurt and so frightened and so unsure that you just need to feel sad, and I get that. And that’s okay too. But don’t make the mistake of thinking God doesn’t hear you, because He does. And don’t confuse His patience or His perfect timing for tardiness (2 Peter 3:9).
Nothing in life stays the same. Everything changes. Our dreams, our preferences, our stories, our families, our friendships. God is the only stable ground. He’s the only rock we can stand on that we can trust will stay put. (Psalm 18:2)
Life may be upside down for you right now. Or maybe you can see the chaos coming toward you like a tidal wave that threatens to sweep away the life you’ve built for yourself. Don’t assume God doesn’t know. He does, and He cares. And He’s your only hope.
Knowing that God doesn’t change, that He always keeps His promises, that He offers hope to the hopeless, and that He is always good—maybe it won’t fix your troubles today. But maybe it’ll give you a different perspective on them. (Hebrews 6:13-19) Because it’s possible for life to be hard and good at the same time, just like you can be hurting and full of joy at the same time.
It all comes down to how you choose to see the trouble in your life. Yes, it can feel overwhelming, unfair, undeserved, and even malicious at times, but if that’s how you choose to see it, you’re missing the point. And you’re choosing to see God as an enemy who wants to hurt you, and nothing is further from the truth. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Breathe. Step back. Shut your eyes and listen to what God is telling you.
He’s got this. He’s got you, and all the little things (or big things) that you’re worrying about, He’s already figured out. And maybe He won’t give you a magic lamp and grant you three wishes. He won’t snap His fingers or wiggle His nose and solve all your problems. But you can be sure that however He chooses to act, it’ll be good, even if it doesn’t feel like it right away.
I’m not a big donut eater. But I’m traveling. As you’re reading this post today, I’m on the road yet again, but this time I’m on the way home. The editing conference in Atlanta was absolutely wonderful, and I’ll be posting about it in more detail later on. But yesterday morning, as my friends and I were getting ready to go to church, we decided that we wanted donuts for breakfast.
And I figured it would serve as a reward for pretending to be an extrovert for almost an entire week. So I jumped in the car and drove down to the nearest donut shop. I won’t identify which one, but I can tell you they’re all over the place in this part of the world.
I went through the drive in and asked for chocolate-glazed donuts. Now, I don’t know if it’s a family thing or a cultural thing or a regional thing, but to me a chocolate-glazed donut was a chocolate-frosted donut. Apparently, that’s incorrect, because when the Donut Gal in the window showed me the box of donuts, I saw chocolate cake donuts with glaze on them. I realized my mistake immediately and apologized.
Well, Donut Girl heaved a heavy sigh, rolled her eyes, and stormed back to the donut case to replace the glazed donuts with the frosted ones. When she returned, she wouldn’t even look at me and initiated a conversation with the next person at the window behind me.
Yes, I was wrong and caused her some level of inconvenience, but I did apologize. And the least she could have done was acknowledge that I was sorry. But then, I thought about her. I mean, she’s working in a gas station donut shop. She probably doesn’t get tips. She may not even get paid well, And she works with the public. So I can understand some irritability.
It was mainly the attitude that irked me. I’ve never ordered donuts in a drive-thru before. I’m also not a normal customer of this particular donut chain. But if I were, I would be upset enough about this experience that I might not come back. Donut Girl has a responsibility to her employer to represent him to the public, and she did a poor job of that yesterday morning.
People irritate me. They inconvenience me. They give me bad information and then act surprised when I deliver an incorrect product. And most of the time, my attitude stinks. I grumble and complain and roll my eyes. And while I don’t do that to their faces, doing it behind their backs is worse, because it’s evidence of what’s in my heart.
And I don’t represent a donut chain. I represent God (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). As Jesus-followers, God has given us a job to point the way to Him, to show people how to be reconciled with God Himself. That makes us God’s ambassadors–God’s representatives on Earth. And if I mistreat people, whether they’re wrong or not, that’s a poor representation of who God is and how He treats people.
So before I criticize Donut Girl for her attitude, I need to check my own.
How about you this morning? Are the petty details of life turning you into a grumbler? Do you let people’s faults (or perceived faults) get under your skin? Are you forgetting who you represent?
Don’t be like Donut Girl. Be like Jesus.
I don’t know how to rest. It’s not something that comes naturally to me, so the last thing on my mind is taking time off. But people weren’t made to run 24/7, despite what we tell ourselves.
As you read this post this morning, I’m heading home from a week-long vacation in Estes Park, thanks to some very dear friends who let me stay in their wonderful little cabin. I needed rest so desperately.
Rest looks different for each person. Some people need activity and socializing. Others need structure. For me, rest involved not talking, not wearing real pants, and watching cooking shows and nerdy movies for a week. After about three full days of that, I felt a bit more human. (If you’re an introvert, you totally get this.)
Everybody needs to rest. Everyone needs to take intentional time to refocus and refresh and restore themselves, and for a Christ-follower that means spending some real one-on-one time with Jesus (you know, in between cooking shows).
Even Jesus had to rest. So how did He do it? That’s what I asked myself as I started off on this journey. How did Jesus rest? And I thought I’d pass along what I learned from Jesus.
Jesus was the most popular guy in every town He visited. Crowds flocked around Him to hear Him speak, to be healed, to see Him. Can you imagine being surrounded by thousands upon thousands of people every moment of every day? I would self-destruct.
When Jesus got tired (because He did), He made time to separate Himself from the noise and chaos of the crowds. He got away. (Matthew 8:18)
Does that mess with your head? Yes, Jesus spent time with Father God, even though Jesus Himself is God. Don’t try to make sense of it. It’s not something our puny brains can understand. Just realize that Jesus took time (frequently, according to Scriptures) to talk to God, to be quiet with God, to listen to God. So we probably should too. (Luke 5:15-16)
Jesus had best friends. He loves everyone, and He loved all His disciples, obviously. But there were three (some people believe four) guys who He just enjoyed spending time with—Peter, James, and John. And when Jesus was seeking God’s will and needing support, He turned to those three men. (Matthew 17:1; Matthew 26:36-38)
You may be an introvert who needs your space, but that doesn’t mean you should become a recluse. God puts people in your life for a reason. Granted, that doesn’t mean you are required to spend every waking moment with those people, but you shouldn’t cut yourself off from human contact. God didn’t create us to be alone.
This is one of the funniest moments in the Bible for me. Can’t you just imagine the storm? The disciples were just minding their own business when a massive storm kicked up on the Sea of Galilee, and they all freaked out. They went running to Jesus, and they found Him asleep. (Mark 4:38)
Dude, Jesus must sleep like I do. When I’m out, there’s not much that can wake me up.
Jesus took intentional steps to rest. He made it a priority because He was human too, just like us. So if Jesus was intentional about rest, why aren’t we? Do we think we can do more than Jesus?
Sure, this week has been great, but I can’t just drop everything and run away to the mountains for an entire week whenever I want. You probably can’t either. So that means I need to learn how to integrate these strategies into my daily life. That means I need to start seeing myself and my goals from a more realistic perspective.
Rest is something we all need, so it’s something we can be intentional about. I don’t know about you, but I’m taking steps to make sure I rest. That way, I can always be at my best, and I can always be available to do what God has called me to do.
Have you ever sat in a chair that couldn’t hold your weight? There’s nothing like that terror as the legs wobble beneath you, and you freeze, paralyzed with uncertainty, because if you move at all, it might collapse and hurt you. At the very least, you’ll look like an idiot. My friends, welcome to faith.
That’s an encouraging thought, right? Faith is like a cheap plastic chair that you aren’t sure will hold your weight until you sit in it. That’s what it feels like sometimes, and honestly there is some truth to that concept.
If you rest your whole weight on a chair that’s too flimsy to support you, it’ll collapse beneath you. That’s just the way gravity works. That’s also the way cheap plastic works too. And to a certain extent, you won’t know if it will hold you until you try sitting in it.
Yes, sitting in a plastic chair takes faith. But faith doesn’t have to be blind, and anyone who tells you differently doesn’t really know what he believes in.
Personally, I know there’s a lot of me to hold up, so I usually test a chair before I sit in it.
That’s not a lack of faith. That’s just common sense.
And I think that’s where a lot of folks gets confused, because faith and common sense don’t have to be at odds with each other.
Even the Bible says that we’re supposed to think about what we believe and why we believe it (1 John 4:1). Jesus never commanded us to turn our brains off. In fact, He said the opposite. (1 Peter 5:8)
Instead of answering, let me ask another question. Do you understand everything anyway?
Faith isn’t an exclusively religious concept. Everyone has faith in some form or another, whether we’re talking about relationships or job positions or the integrity of a plastic chair’s design.
Most of the important questions of life can’t be answered without faith. Granted, maybe your faith is in science, but science can’t explain everything either, which is why some supposed sciences are accepted on faith. (And if you’ve been paying attention to the scientific community over the years, you’d notice that science continually proves the Bible is true. But that’s another blog post.)
The point is, you don’t have to sacrifice common sense to have faith.
If a cheap plastic chair doesn’t look like it’s going to support you, don’t sit in it. If a pastor on YouTube is promising success and prosperity if you donate to his organization, you don’t have to do it if you don’t think he’s on the level. If a charity demonstrates a lack of ability to monitor their accounting, you aren’t required by faith to give your money to them.
Don’t turn your brain off. God doesn’t ask you to be blind. He’s gone to painstaking lengths to prove who He is through His Word and through the experiences of people who’ve followed Him.
So ask Him questions. Ask His followers questions. Examine Him. Get to know who He is for yourself, not just the picture that other people paint. He’s waiting for you.
Try it His way and see what happens. You might be surprise how common-sensical following Jesus actually is.