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Keeping Up With God-The Strain Is Always Worth It!

In my lifetime, there are things that I’ve asked the Lord for and have had to wait to see them come to pass.  Not just wait a few days or even weeks or months, but years.  YEARS PEOPLE!!

 

When I’ve prayed for something for so long and it finally happens, sometimes I just don’t know what to do.  Literally.

 

I’ve gotten so stuck in a mindset that when things began to change for the better, I almost didn’t recognize it.  Or I recognized what seemed too good to be true, and my mind kept taking me back to how things always were.  To the comfort zone I had created before God moved.

 

I’ve assumed the change I saw in someone was false.

I’ve hesitated to relax when a work situation finally resolved itself.

I’ve planned and spent as if I was still a broke young newlywed.

I’ve held my breath waiting to get sick AGAIN.

I’ve kept my distance from people instead of investing in a new friendship.

Am I the only one who has done this?!

This way of thinking isn’t good for anyone.   It doesn’t demonstrate my faith.  I don’t think it pleases the Lord.  It does not please the Lord!

 

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”

Phillippians 3:13

Forget what is behind.

forget 

verb for·get \fər-ˈget, fȯr-\

Simple Definition of forget

  • : to be unable to think of or remember (something)

  • : to fail to remember to bring or take (something)

  • : to stop thinking or caring about (someone)

Strain toward what is ahead.

 

strain

verb

Simple Definition of strain

  • : to injure (a body part or muscle) by too much tension, use, or effort

  • : to try very hard to do or get something

  • : to be pulled or stretched in a forceful way

I don’t want to offend God when He holds out His hand with something good or when He is leading me into something new and I am so bent on living in my comfortable state of mind that I’m hesitant, or even unwilling, to accept what He is offering or follow where He is leading.

I don’t want to let my past fears or failures dictate how quickly I respond when I sense His leading.

I don’t want to be left behind when He is doing a new thing in my life or in the life of those that I love.

As we approach this weekend where many believers will be focused on the death and resurrection of Jesus, let’s think back to this passage in Isaiah.

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.”

Isaiah 43: 18-19

This passage was written after God had delivered His people out of slavery, parted the red sea, provided their food from the sky, guided them with fire… now He’s promising to do even more for them.  More!

This proclamation in Isaiah was referring to a coming Savior.  Someone who would make a way for us to have relationship with the God of the universe.  The ONLY one who could take on the sins of the world…past, present and future…and bury them for good.  It was a place to fix our eyes and look up…not back.  He was making a way to bring hope for our future and for us to have a one on one relationship with Him.  It was coming!

And come it did, in human form…Jesus.

If God was willing to make a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland for his children so many years ago, how can we not think that He is interested in changing our circumstances today?

“See, I am doing a new thing!”

For those of us who are in a relationship with Jesus Christ, who have placed our faith in Him, let’s recognize when He is working in our lives.  Acknowledge it.  Smile about it.  Get to steppin’!  Chin up!  Strain towards that door He has opened up.  That new thing!

Take a look around…where is the ground shaking in your life?  What new thing has He brought you to recently?  Where is He going now that you need to follow and keep up?

A new job opportunity?

A travel adventure to go serve others?

Want to go back to school?

Been eyeing a local church to go visit?

Are you tired of being quiet about your faith?

Feeling impressed to invite someone to coffee?

Can’t shake the desire to start a healthier way of life?

The most peaceful, safe, adventuresome, fulfilling,  place we can be is right behind Him.  Looking to the future, not the past.  Straining to keep up.

When the sun seems to shine a little brighter, a relationship eases in tension, a job begins to bring joy instead of stress, a child leaves behind their bad choices and turns toward goodness, the money begins to roll in, a new friendship begins to form,…do not look back…run to it!

He’s doing a new thing,

He’s making a way.

Leave the past behind,

Strain towards the future.

It’s a call of obedience,

a call to trust Him!

Someone told me many years ago that life with Jesus is a lot like a roller coaster ride.  You can either watch it go by and miss out, get on it gripped with fear, sweaty palms and closed eyes, or you can put your hands in the air, take in the view and enjoy the ride!  Let’s trust the conductor of this life, hop on and ride with abandon…even if this life makes our stomach drop from time to time, just let out a good scream and keep moving forward!

Featured

What To Do When We Have More Questions Than Answers

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When I sit and think of all of the ways that God has blessed me, I always think about the people in my life.
Relationships.
Over the past 26+ years of our married lives, men and women, and even children, have waltzed into our paths and grabbed hold of our hearts in a deep, rich way.
Its humbling…
If my family were ever in crisis mode, there are those in our lives right now that we would call on for support, and even those who we only touch base with once or twice a year, that I know would hop a plane or rearrange their schedule if we shouted for help.
These people…they are not in our lives by accident.  We know that God caused us to not only cross paths, but feel comfortable and extend trust to one another in our conversations.  In our time together.
I hope that these people know who they are and that we would drop everything and rush to their side if they needed us too.  I think they do.
Relationships are work.  These deep, meaningful, abiding friendships…they take time and effort from both sides, and when God is in it, it’s always, always worth the time.  Always.
Have you ever been in a season of life where there were just more questions than answers?
Maybe its questions you have about your own life.
Maybe its questions you are carrying for a friend.
Sometimes, life just happens.  Spouses walk, our children make choices that we cautioned them not to make and are shouldered with the consequences, our parents become ill, a friend goes in for a biopsy, someone loses a job because of down sizing…the list can go on and on and at times seem overwhelming.  I’ve heard bad things happen in 3’s but sometimes it’s 5’s and 6’s, do you know what I mean?
What do we do?  What CAN we do if it’s not even us with the question, but someone we love dearly?
In the Bible, Matthew chapter 6 lends some practical direction.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
Are we not much more valuable?  It’s like he knows we have to be reminded of this, and he’s right, we do.  We forget our value.
We are loved and cherished by God himself.  The creator of the trees in our back yard.  The maker of the moon and stars.  The One who came up with colors and animals and the beach.  The One who created relationships, who gave us the desire to connect with other people and ultimately to have relationship with Him.
Sometimes we need reminding that we are not just more valuable than the birds, but we are much more valuable.
I love the way that The Message translation says it…
” Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.”
Matthew 6:26
Not tied down to a job description.  You are more than a wife, a mother, a sister, a Receptionist, a homemaker, a teacher…You are the apple of God’s eye.  You are His focus.
When you have questions for your own lives, dig into the relationships you’ve been blessed with.  It’s no coincidence that during this time in your life, these people are surrounding you.  Reach back and grab an old friend too if you can’t get them off your mind.  Don’t isolate yourself, you’re already surrounded, now grab hold and hang on.
Let those around you support you when you feel that you can’t stand on your own.  Lean into them.  Take a breath and allow God to use these people to help carry you through your questions.  They may not have answers, but they may have wisdom, strength and endurance when you feel you are lacking.
You count far more to God than any other thing He ever created.  We all do.  Let’s grab hold of that truth, stick it deep down into our soul, keep our chin up, lock arms with whomever is there and keep moving forward.  Together.
No worrying about our needs, God’s got us.  Wherever we are heading as we face those questions head on, He has already been there.  He has prepared us for such a time as this.
And although we may never really have the answers to all of our questions, we know the One who does, and that’s really all that matters.