Inspired or Intimidated
We’ve all been around extraordinary people: giants in some dimension; exceeding our abilities; dwarfing our capacity; excelling in a way we never have or ever will. When we’re around them, we always have two options. They can inspire us or intimidate us. I would be lying if I said they only inspire me. At times, I have to fight envy: feeling bad because I lack a quality someone else has. On other occasions, jealousy is my undoing. I’m afraid of losing something I already have or something that was never meant to be mine. The Pharisees killed Jesus because of both. They envied what Jesus had (Matthew 27:18), and were jealous because He was taking away what they thought they had: authority. (Matthew 7:29) “God, help me to be inspired and not intimidated by those who excel in a way I do not.”
Touching Your Pain
Any of us who have small children know that there are times when we need to touch their pain in order to alleviate it. If they have a splinter, you can’t get it out without touching the pained area in some way. I can certainly empathize with the emotional pain many of us are going through, but sometimes, the last thing we want to talk about is the first thing we need to talk about. Many times we have attitudes that are adding to our pain, and perspectives that increase our stress and discouragement. All of us need safe people to touch our pain, individuals gifted by God with grace to ask the questions we need to consider and the wisdom to unpack the pain that God wants to free us from.
What Do You Want to Be?
Most people know what they want to have in life, but they don’t know what they want to be. Unless our will and purpose for our lives lines up with God’s will and purpose, it is not worth pursuing. As Jesus expressed so clearly in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Luke 22:42, ESV) His heart was set to fulfill what His Heavenly Father knew was best and what would have the greatest long-term benefit. Jesus knew what we should also remember, whenever we are seduced by the temporary, we miss out on the eternal. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and (God) will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33, NLT)
At different times in our lives, God will test us to see if we’re all-in. After predicting His own great suffering, “Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” (Matthew 16:24, ESV) When I first became a Christ-follower, Jesus tested my willingness to be all-in on many occasions. I was part of a Christian community where we pooled the monies we earned to help the new people who were coming. So, it cost me much to give away a brand new pair of work boots to visiting missionaries from Alaska, which I had saved up for to work picking vegetables on cold winter mornings. Similarly, I tearfully gave away my first brand new Bible to another Bible School student. What have been some of your all-in moments?
Learning How to Give
There’s a syndrome that some two-year olds experience. It’s called, “you exist to bless me.” Perhaps that’s why it’s called the “terrible twos.” As parents, we know that part of the process of successfully raising children is to transition them from being “natural-born takers” into being “supernatural givers.” There’s no learning process in “taking.” We’re all born “master-takers.” Teaching us to give is not God’s way of raising money; it’s God’s way of raising His children. Though God is a blessing to me, He doesn’t exist to bless me (Randy Alcorn). Yet, the only way we can fully experience the greatest fulfillment in life is learning how to give. For it was Jesus Himself who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35, ESV)
Something Came from Nothing?
Do you feel like, right now, you have nothing? I’ve been there. And yet, it’s the perfect time to ask the God, who makes something out of nothing, to take charge of your life. The most unscientific thought ever conceived by man is that: “without an intelligent designer, something came from nothing.” How could everything we see come from nothing? It’s a simple reality even a child can understand it. Yet, the Bible says, “Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. (Romans 1:22, NLT) That’s why, “…God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise.” (1 Corinthians 1;27, NLT) When you feel like you have nothing, look to God, the only Person who can make something out of nothing. You will find, He won’t fail you!
All of us have attempted to find the fulfillment we long for in ourselves, or in some other person, place or thing. Yet, only God can fill and fulfill what He created. That’s why submitting to God is the most humbling experience in life. That level of surrender is the only doorway to becoming the complete person God created you to be. Jesus promised, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14, NLT) I believe seeing reality, how things really are, is by its very nature humbling. And yet, God is bigger than the realities we face. It’s looking in the mirror, and seeing your loving, merciful, and kind Creator looking over your shoulder. What area in your life is God asking you to humble yourself? He will be there with you.
Man Playing God
All of us want to soar; to fly high above our problems and challenges. The only way this can successfully and consistently happen is for us to connect with the Most High. I want to play with God, but I don’t want to play God. The devil fell when he boasted, as the Bible says, “I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:14, NLT) But, unlike his Creator, Satan was never able to create something from nothing. He could reshape and recast what God had already created, but making something from nothing is a feat accomplished by the Most High alone. Today, if you want to soar high above problems and challenges, cultivate a relationship with the only Person who can take you there, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of all things. (Colossians 1:16)
Rushing Rivers or Stagnant Ponds
I want to be a rushing river that God can flow through, and not become a stagnant pond limiting the abundant life He promised. I want to be attached to what is eternal and producing life, not be seduced by the temporary and lifeless. To become a stagnant pond, all you have to do is cease to change; to cease to grow. But, nothing about God is stagnant. The reality is, stagnant areas in our lives are not growing! Yet, everything about the God of the Universe shouts, “Growth!” As we speak, the Universe is expanding. Scientists acknowledge the galaxies outside of our own are moving away from us, and the ones that are farthest away are moving the fastest. Today, let the life of God flow through you. Only He can expand and multiply what He has given you.
God’s Plan is Best
There no greater plan for our lives than God’s plan. It’s what we’d all long for, if we could see the past, present and future clearly. We’d want the will of God more than our own will. Now, you can be a bird and not fly. You can be a fish and not swim. You can be married and not love your spouse. But why would you want to live beneath your potential? I choose to obey God because it’s the best out of all possible options; because only my Creator could know what is best for me. And, I get to follow His majestic plan for my life, to receive His love, to worship Him with all of my heart, soul and strength, and love others as He has loved me.
The Tug of God’s Spirit
What we see, we are in some way responsible for. Does this sound over-stated? If you saw a crime, would you do something? Would you call the police? If a stranger was dying, would you call an ambulance? These are challenging situations to say the least, but most of us would say, “Absolutely, I’d do something!” When Jesus “…saw the crowds, He had compassion for them.” (Matthew 9:36, ESV) What do we feel when we see broken people around us. Even though we are not always called to get directly involved, we can always do something. We can pray, or offer a kind word, or step up in some other way. But, I believe as Christ-followers our default should never be, “there’s nothing I can do,” when perhaps there is. Stay open to the tug of God’s Spirit. You might be surprised.
Making Your Life a “Glorious Get To”
No one wants to bless your life more than God, and every blessing that lasts is because of His grace. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17, NKJV) No one gives gifts like God! God’s looking for people who are willing to distribute these gifts: His love, His joy, His peace, His forgiveness, and His kindness. He’ll bless anyone who’s willing to stay unattached to the things He gives them. Many times, He wants us just to be intermediaries, “flowing rivers of blessing” and not “stagnant pools of entitlement.” Someone, willing to allow His life to flow through them. God doesn’t want to make your life a miserable “have to”. He delights in making it a glorious “get to”.