reader comment: right where I need to be

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Category : God, R3, bible, failure, hope, reader comments

   

Not to sound melodramatic but I think there’s a moment (possibly several) in a person’s life where they question if what they are doing is worthwhile.  Is the project you’re working on meaningful?  Is the business you’ve started going to be relevant.  Are you making a difference in people’s lives? 

It’s easy to fall into the idea that we’re somehow not doing “enough.”  And that’s where I’ve been the last few days.  I was wondering if I was doing enough professionally.  Was I reaching everyone I could with R3?  Should I do more? 

I expressed these concerns to a friend, and she said something that froze me in my tracks:

I think you’ve got something backwards here :o ].  It’s not you that needs to make something out of your life, it’s God.  That I know of, nowhere in the bible does God tell us that we have to make something out of ourselves.  That’s His job…our job is to listen to what He says and act on what we hear, whether that’s physically doing something, or waiting on God to do something.

Ouch.

She’s right though.  I can’t think of a single example where God said, “why don’t you make something out of yourself?  What are you waiting for?”  God always says, be obedient, and let me do the rest.

All I need to worry about is listening to God, then obeying. 

What a relief!

the joy of the Lord is our strength

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Category : God, faith, hope, trust

  

Life has a way of overwhelming us.  It’s easy to get distracted, to lose focus, and to simply make poor choices.  For the next few days we’re taking a look at phrases that help us keep our bearings so we make the right choices, not the easy choices.      

No matter who you are or what you do, you will face stress, trouble, and pain.  It’s just a fact of life.  Some of us face more than our share.  In the midst of all this stress and pain we have to find ways to deal with that reality.  Often we turn to God, expecting him to act like Santa Claus and simply give us a bunch of goodies.  The truth is, God doesn’t always solve our problems for us.  So if we’re waiting for God to bring us out of poverty, or bring back a lost love, or in my case the return of Voltron to TV, we may never be satisfied. 

But just because God doesn’t always miraculously solve our problems, doesn’t mean we are allowed to sit around doing nothing.  Or worse, feel sorry for ourselves.  God wants us to be active.  He wants us to be engaged in the present.  He knows that if we wait for our lives to be perfect before we act, we’ll probably never do anything.  

But how do we act when things feel so overwhelming?

Over the last few years I’ve probably heard Chris Tomlin sing ”Holy is the Lord” 100 times.  But it wasn’t until recently that one line in that song really struck me.  He says, ”the Joy of the Lord is our strength.”  I began asking myself, what if my strength really comes from knowing God is happy with my life?  What if the way to overcome the pain and challenges of life is to embrace God’s joy?  What if his joy is more powerful than any other thing I can do?

I’ve always wondered how some Christians can bear unimaginable suffering but still hold onto their faith.  I think it’s because they understand this – that no amount of suffering, no amount of treasure, no amount of praise, is worth giving up God’s joy in our lives. 

There’s nothing in my life that ranks as particularly traumatic.  I’m not facing death or torture.  Although getting ready for another season of reality TV sure feels like that.  But God does ask me to do things I’m not comfortable with.  He asks me to engage in people’s lives when I’d rather watch TV.  He asks me to trust him, when I’d rather trust my bank account.  As I look at these decisions, they scare me.  That’s usually when I feel the panic raising up.  So I remind myself, “the joy of the Lord is my strength.”  And that’s enough to help me stay focused.

Perhaps this is best summed up by Bill Hybels in The Volunteer Revolution, “I’ve never known joy outside of pursuing God’s calling on my life.  Whenever I’ve wandered even five degrees off that course, I’ve lost the sense of God’s smile that I can’t live without.”

I’m beginning to see just how true this is.

dealing with stress

Category : God, faith, fear, hope, trust

    

Whenever I look at someone I assume they don’t feel the same kind of pressures I do.  That somehow they are immune from the stress I feel, or the fear that paralyzes me when I don’t know what to do.  This is especially true when I’m watching someone famous, important, or brilliant. 

It’s easy to forget that we’re all susceptible to stress. 

Which is why the following video seems so surprising.  How can the Georgian President be nervously chewing his tie?  Isn’t he famous?  Don’t world leaders just naturally know what to do?  But clearly he’s terrified.  Just like you or I would be if in similar circumstances.

 

Life is filled with the unexpected, as I’m sure the Georgian President understands all too well.  And the more we are willing to follow God, the more unexpected life becomes.  You see, God has a way of calling us to do things that seem so overwhelming, and yet as we step into that moment we seem to be perfectly created just for those tasks. 

That’s kind of a common theme around R3.  Despite that, I always seem to come back to the same questions.  Where do we find the strength to keep on going?  How do you keep on fighting when everyone else around you has given up?  How is it that some Christians seem to crack, while others endure brutal hardships?

The only answer I can come up with is ”God.”  Nothing else can hold up its end of the bargain.  Everything – money, love, Fido the family dog – will let us down at one point or another.  Only God remains steadfast.  Only God is always there for us.  The trick is in remembering that when it feels that the world is caving in around us.