Knowing God’s Motive
Learning to fight in the ring is dangerous. We must first practice in the gym. It’s only through preparation that we can be truly prepared. What Jesus resisted personally in the desert, He defeated permanently on the Cross. He became rejected so I can be accepted; uncovered so I can be covered; needy, so I can be satisfied; and weak, so I can live strong. God didn’t find Adam and Eve in the Garden to shame them. He found them wallowing in their sin, so He could cover them. Unless we trust that the motive of God is good and kind, merciful and forgiving, we’ll live in shame and regret, instead of His endless peace and forgiveness. What God thinks of me is infinitely more important than what I think of myself.
Little By Little
All of us would like God to move faster to help us, and slower to discipline us, but the reason He doesn’t fulfill this desire is because His plan is better. When the Children of Israel were concerned about the giants in the land of Canaan, God said, “I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you…” (Exodus 23:29-30a, NKJV) If God gave us the Garden of Eden all at once, it would turn into a jungle. God is leading us one step at a time, one prayer at a time, and one act of faith at a time. Trust in His leading. It is the only way to arrive safely home.
The Value of Little Things
As a young man I had a job cleaning a restaurant’s kitchen. No matter how spotless I made it, it would be a mess the next day. One day as I was mopping my way out, I caught a strand of the mop on the leg of a dishwasher. Though I initially thought, “I’ll get it tomorrow.” God send me back 15 minutes later to pick it up. Now, forty years down the road, I’m still obeying and seeing the value of little things. We can spend our lives waiting to see a tree, when God wants us to first see a seed. The abundance of a garden starts with the tiniest sprout. If we can’t see the value of the seed, we’ll never reap its abundance. The Bible says, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin.” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT)
Complete in Him, Alone
In a world of seemingly infinite options, we can consider God’s will as just another possibility, one choice in a countless number of equally good alternatives. Yet, only God’s will brings about the fullness of our true potential. Only God’s will brings us to the best of all possible options. Our will can only magnify our lack of completeness. When the Bible says, “…you are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10, NKJV), it is not listing Jesus as one of a number of perfectly fine would-be gods. It is saying that only through Jesus Christ, God the Son come to Earth, can we be forgiven for our sins and fulfill His one-of-a-kind destiny. The Bible says, “…there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12, ESV)
As I was getting off a plane to go to a connecting flight, I glanced at the electronic Departure Board to see what gate was next. Having flown so much, I was confident I knew what I was doing. Taking the tram in this busy airport, I arrived at the gate only to realize I had read the flight information incorrectly and actually needed to go back to the original gate I had arrived at 15 minutes before. After racing to get there, I walked back into my first plane and even was assigned the exact same seat. As I sat back, now sweating, 30 minutes into my circular journey, I laughed at my foolishness, and God gently reminded me to pay attention, and to not take even little things for granted. It was a good lesson I hope I never forget.
The Humor and Holiness of God
One of the indicators for me that a person really knows God is that they understand, not just His Holiness, but also His humor. A person who really knows God can cry or laugh in His presence, because the reason they feel, care, and enjoy life is because God feels and cares, and is the most joyful Person who ever lived. Jesus wept, but He also laughed and had such an enjoyable personality that children were attracted to Him. When we see God as both a Father and a friend, we can then fully honor, love and enjoy Him. When we can laugh at the challenges of life, without being anxious or worried, we are then trusting that God is greater than the struggles of Earth and always has our lives in His safe hands.
The Tests of Earth
How we view our challenges will determine whether they work for our good or not. It is vitally important that I see my struggles as a test and not a threat. Greater is he who is in me than anything that could assault me. Considering the tests of Earth as threats to my wellbeing ultimately turns my life into a fear-based experience rather than a faith-filled opportunity, perfectly crafted for my good. No one can force me to bow to fear and unbelief. The enemy cannot intimidate me, unless I allow him to. I must choose to reverently bow, each and every day, to the Holy Spirit and His protective will for my life. The Bible says, “…for in Him we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17:28, NKJV)
The Prayer of Jabez
All of us have identity issues. Our challenge is: will we see ourselves as God intended or as others determine? There’s a famous prayer in the Bible. Prayed by a man named Jabez, whose name meant “sorrow and pain.” He prayed, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed…that I may not cause pain!” God granted Jabez what he requested. (1 Chronicles 4:10) Jabez had spent his life viewing himself through someone else’s lens. They saw him as one who brought pain and sorrow. He wanted to break that curse and did. What curse have others placed on you that God wants to break off? May we each pray prayers that connect us to God’s true identity and destiny for us, and not the hurtful misrepresentations of others.
Complete Forgiveness, Acceptance and Peace
There are many absolute truths in life, but there’s one we should never forget. I can’t relive what happened to me, but I can reprocess its affect on my life and future. How others see me is their choice, but how I see me is always mine. Most people’s regrets are NOT about what they did do, but about what they didn’t do. And many times, corrective actions can get my life back on track. The most predominant, one-word command given to all humanity by God is: “Repent!” It means, “turn away from the way you’ve been thinking and begin to see your life the way God sees it.” That perspective will always bring us to a place of complete forgiveness, acceptance and peace.
Being a Positive Person
One of my goals is to be a positive person. Why? Because that’s how God views, not just my future, but also everyone He created. We can fixate on the wrong in others and ourselves for so long that’s all we wind up seeing. We can naively think, because I’ve always viewed myself a certain way, it must be how God sees me. But nothing could be further from the truth. No one has ever been encouraged by criticism, built up by negativism, or inspired by sarcasm. There is not a judgmental, angry Creator in Heaven, but rather a loving, forgiving Father, who wants to make right every wrong done to us, or by us. His greatest desire should be ours as well: to spend eternity with us, accepted and loved.
Trusting the God Who Knows
If you have to know what’s going on before you can trust God, you will never fully trust Him. I don’t have to know what’s happening, I just have to trust God knows. I have never banged on a cockpit door asking the pilot if he knew where he was going. How we respond to life is infinitely more important than what happens to us. I’m going to focus on what’s happening IN me not around me! I want to trust in God’s irrevocable promises, and to remember God’s undeniable goodness. Whatever reality I focus on, I will eventually become. I will believe the truth that there’s a loving God who was not just delighted when He created me, but is delighted whenever He thinks of me, and He thinks of me all the time. It is God’s goodness that leads me to change.
Blessed Beyond Measure
Here are some absolutes I’ve found that have brought me both pain and pleasure: if I have a preference, I won’t get God’s will. If I give into fear, or question whether God is able, I won’t get His best for my life. But if I believe the truth: that God not only knows what’s best for me, but if I trust Him, He’s ordered my steps in such a way that my life will turn out infinitely better than I could ever have imagined. If I focus on the tiny amount of faith He’s given me, I will find it’s more than enough to transform any impossible situation into one of infinite hope. And lastly, if I believe as the Bible says that God is “…able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20, ESV), my life will be blessed beyond measure.