Wait For Approval
Do you spend too much time waiting for the approval of others? Many of us do. In the Book of Genesis, Jacob’s wife, Leah says, “God has given me good gifts for my husband. Now He Will Honor Me, for I have given him six sons.” Leah was still waiting for her husband to truly love her, hoping that the sheer quantity of sons she was birthing would win his heart! Sadly, no human can give us enough love to truly satisfy. We can’t birth enough children to gratify our hearts. We can’t make enough money to placate our souls. We can’t buy enough clothes to make us feel beautiful. We can’t watch enough sports to feel like a conqueror. Without God’s lasting fulfillment we will be left empty and alone.
In 1992, I was so discouraged I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning. Would God forsake me at such a critical hour? No! God was just going deeper to heal me! He was touching one of the biggest areas of need in my life, and it was very painful. There are infinite layers of healing and encouragement needed in each of our lives. But unless we allow God to touch our pain, which will be painful in itself, we’ll never get the healing we need. I have now come to the absolute conclusion: every irritation is an invitation to go to the next level. God wants to heal us more than we could ever imagine, but it will take courage to allow Him and other safe people to touch our pain.
Worship and Acceptance
We don’t worship God to receive His approval. We worship Him to bask in His acceptance. His approval of you and I has always been there. God has never wavered. He’s always been fixed at peak approval. Not based upon what we’ve done, either good or bad, but upon who He’s always envisioned us to be. I was created to be the fulfillment of God’s dreams, not the embodiment of His disappointment. But, only my belief and acceptance of Christ’s death on the cross for my sins and His resurrection from the dead can make this possible. It is my faith in Jesus and willingness to surrender to His Lordship that allows me to bask in His love and acceptance, not just here on Earth, but throughout all eternity.
Courageous Girl: Reta Sharp
Reta Sharp was a poor, somewhat illiterate girl; with uncombed hair. One winter day, when she was 14 years old, she was playing with her 16 year-old friend Tony on a frozen pond. Somehow her friend fell through the ice. Reta tried to pull him out from the edge of the ice, but it gave way. As they both unsuccessfully tried to get out of the water, she did the most amazing thing. He could feel her push her way further down into the water, with her hands going down his body. He then felt the surge of her pushing him up with her arms underneath his feet. She had gone down to the bottom of the pond, and pushed off. With her final surge of strength, she propelled her friend out of the water. He barely made it home alive. His friend Reta had given her life, so that Tony could live.
Record Setting Field Goal
On Nov 8th, 1970, there was a football game between the New Orleans Saints and the Detroit Lions. The game came down to the final seconds to see who would win. In order for the Saints to win they needed a 63-yard field goal. This had never been done before in the history of football. Even today, only one person’s kicked it further than 63 yards. The man who ran on the field to attempt it had no fingers on his right hand, and no toes on his right kicking foot. But Tom Dempsey kicked the ball and set a world record. What limitation do you feel you have? Is it really a limitation, or just another opportunity for God to show off His strength in your weakness? As The Message says, “…the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, The Message)
When Life Isn’t Fair
Want to know one of the biggest time wasters? Waiting for life to be fair! It’s really a dead end! And what’s even worse is living disgruntled and discouraged because you feel you’ve been treated unjustly. I’ve squandered too many days wishing things were different. All it accomplished was I missed an opportunity to respond well to disappointment. And guess what, more discouragements came. Finally, I accepted that what needed to change was me, not my circumstances. I stopped whining about what wasn’t happening and began to see the value of what was. The Message says, “…when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.” (1 Peter 4:12-13, The Message)
Rules vs. Relationship
God is a God of order, but He values relationship over rules. He will never compromise what is right to retain fellowship, because He doesn’t have to. God navigates the fine line of connection without concession, understanding without undermining His holiness. I have friends I don’t always agree with. But I don’t shrink back from sharing biblical reality with them. Sure there are times when listening to their perceptions wearies me, but it also provides one of the few glimpses into God’s reality they may ever see. The borders of my theology and commitment to truth are sure and sound, but the borders of my love and heart for others are continuing to expand. The Bible says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV)
Every time I give in to disappointment it actually means I’m not trusting God. How could we not be at peace if we really believed God was in charge? He already said the peace He provides would go beyond our understanding. So, I will not bow to discouragement, cower to depression, or give in to self-pity. As The Message says it, “We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (Hebrews 4:15-16, The Message) My appointment with God will clear up all dis-appointment. His plan is infinitely better than my best intentions. “God, I trust You!”
Trusting God After Being Hurt
The #1 problem that all of us have with God is trusting Him. Since other people have hurt us, each of us are hard-wired not to trust. God knows that! And actually, it’s a set up. Do you think God is unaware that we’re all wired–to not trust Him? He not only knows it, it’s why faith is so pleasing to Him. The Bibles says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6, NKJV) Our faith to trust God after being hurt means we are trusting that He is able to heal our past, stabilize our present, and establish a future beyond our wildest dreams. Don’t let your hurt define you. Let God heal you.
Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare
In 1942, during World War 2, Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare was a fighter pilot; assigned to protect an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. One day, nine Japanese planes attacked. Simultaneously, his rear gunner’s gun jammed. Alone and unassisted, he fought them off, making sweep after sweep. After shooting down five enemy planes, the remaining four left in a hurry, as Lieutenant O’Hare’s ammunition ran out. For his bravery, he won the Congressional Medal of Honor. He could have said, “Enemy coming from the east, I’m heading west.” But instead, he faced the enemy head on. Today, if you wander the corridors of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, you will see a statue and plague honoring this courageous man. Lieutenant O’Hare would die in combat two years later. Today, face your fear, and Jesus will help you!
Do you feel like your efforts produce little fruit? All of us do. But, some things just take time. You can have the best seed in the world, but if you dig it up prematurely, because it hasn’t met your expectations, don’t blame the seed, or God. Adoniram Judson tried to go to India as a missionary, but the doors were closed. He then went to Burma for six years, yet saw no converts. When Adoniram Judson died, there were no known Christians in Burma. But a few years later, a government survey revealed that one out of every sixty people in the country had become Christians, totaling 210,000 people. WOW! The Bible says, “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes…then each one will receive his commendation from God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5, NLT)
Acceptance Without Approval
Being loved unconditionally is our greatest desire. We all want to know that we are loved, no matter what. If a child grows up feeling like he can’t please his parents, don’t be surprised if he or she ultimately feels like they can’t please God. I didn’t know God liked me, because I didn’t know my dad liked me. Too many children live feeling they can never measure up to their parents’ expectations. That if they’re not careful, the love of their mother or father will be withdrawn. Acceptance does not mean that we will always approve of what our children do. We let our kids know that certain behaviors are not acceptable, while we still accept them completely. Unless we know God loves us, we’ll never feel fully approved. Unless a relationship is built on love, it will never last.