overcoming unexpected problems

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Category : God, choice, hope, living a life of faith, taking action

“From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked.” (Nehemiah 4: 16-18)

When you live a life of faith things aren’t always easy.  In fact, sometimes living a life of faith means you run smack into the unexpected problems.  That’s where Nehemiah found himself.  He was living a pretty comfortable life.  He had the King’s confidence.  He lived in a palace (his job was to eat food – which is great as long as it’s not poisoned).  I bet he even had cable TV.  But God called Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

Not an easy task.

Nehemiah gave up all of the perks of royal life to go back to Jerusalem and work in ditches to rebuild walls.  He gave up comfort for bickering nobles.  He gave up food so he could stand watch with the other Jews.  He gave up wealth and power so that he could worry about invasions and attacks.

Sometimes a life of faith gives you more problems than if you just did your own thing.

Being faithful is rarely easy.  There is often a price.  Almost everyone God called to do amazing things in the Bible had a harder time than if they had ignored him.  To most of us that feels wrong.  Before I became a Christian I had just always assumed that if you believe in God your life should be easy.  But that’s just not reality.

There’s no question God blesses people with amazing things.  David had tremendous wealth.  Yet before he could become king he had to fight a giant.  Esther lived in comfort and security, but she had to risk everything in order to save her fellow Jews.

Those were big risks.  Big obstacles.  But not all sacrifices are huge.

As I sit here typing this post, my computer speakers are on the verge of dying.  My keyboard doesn’t always record the letters I type, and I suspect I need to completely reformat my hard drive.  Even my mouse is rebelling and not scrolling properly.

There was a time when none of this would have been an issue.  I could have easily bought replacement speakers.  Heading to Best Buy wouldn’t be a problem.  But now, because I am unemployed, all of that is beyond my reach.  Of all the challenges I expected to face in unemployment a slowly dying computer was not one of them!

I’m not saying this is catastrophic.  The lives of a nation aren’t at risk if I can’t use the scroll wheel on my mouse.  It’s not like I have to carry a sword because I’m afraid my neighbor is going to try and kill me while I type on my computer.  But it is annoying.  It’s one more time I have to trust God.

Doing the right thing.  Trusting God.  All of these are hard choices.  Especially in the face of unexpected challenges.  As I said, being faithful almost always come with risks and challenges.  As John the Baptist found out, sometimes when we’re living out a life of faith we end up beheaded by a king.

But we don’t trust God because we expect an immediate reward.  We trust God, we act, because we are living for something more.  We are citizens of a different kingdom.  We live with an eye towards our final home – one that lasts forever.  We know that even though we face unexpected problems, there is a point to what we do.  God doesn’t ask us to do something simply because he can.

Every unexpected problem presents us with a choice – do we trust God and continue to live a life of faith?  Or do we trust ourselves, and move away from God?  When life presents you with a problem, what are you going to choose?

is your life urgent?

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Category : God, Jesus, different, faith, sharing faith, taking action

 

If I could only change one thing in my life it would be the sense of urgency I feel.  Or in my case, don’t feel. 

My nature is one of procrastination.  I like to spread things out so I don’t have too much happening at one time.  Because of this, I sometimes lack a sense of urgency.  At least when there isn’t a deadline floating around.  (This is why it’s taking me so long to finish writing my book!)

Yet when I read the Bible, I am struck by something: the repeated call for Christians to live with a sense of urgency.  Jesus changed the world in about 3 years.  That’s pretty urgent.  Paul dropped everything after encountering God and became one of the most important people in history.  David didn’t wait until next week to fight Goliath, he found a rock and went to town.

Looking at my own life, I’m not sure I can say it resembles those examples.  Instead, it much closer to the lyrics of “We are the body” by Casting Crowns

But if we are the body
Why aren’t His arms reaching?
Why aren’t His hands healing?
Why aren’t His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren’t His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?

Why don’t I reach out more?  Why am I more reactive than proactive?   Why do I walk past the people I know need help?  Why do I ignore that prodding by God to help?  To act?  I think the answer is provided by another song.   

i am so easily satisfied
by the call of lovers less wild
that i would take a little cash
over your very flesh and blood

(”Wedding Dress“, Derek Webb)

It bothers me to think that I would trade in Jesus’ sacrifice for comfort and convenience.  But I do.  I willingly turn my back on what it cost God to secure my freedom.  And I am increasingly convinced that this lack of urgency is something that is holding me back from a deeper relationship with God.

It’s ironic that it took this realization for me to finally start developing that sense of urgency.  Funny how God works sometimes.