Posts tagged ‘trials’

Will You Sit with God?

The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.”   Psalm 110:1

I find spiritual battles in life to be the the toughest battles of all. Perhaps that’s because most of my battles are spiritual at their core. If I have a disagreement with a friend, how I respond is a spiritual battle within me. If I struggle to complete a task, whether I have the courage to stick it out to the end is a spiritual battle within me. And so I find what matters most is where I am at when the battle is raging.   

My first job was at the age of 12 working in the yard of a wealthy family. My dad had taken care of their lawn a few hours each week as a side job for years. But he convinced the family to hire me for 30 hours a week to care for every aspect of their lawn. It was my responsibility to trim the bushes and weed the flower beds. I was also given the task of edging around the entire house, every tree, and every bush. This was an overwhelming task except for one thing, my dad brought me lunch and we sat in the lawn to eat and converse every day. Sitting with my dad on the job he had procured for me made me feel special, safe, and assured in my abilities. During those lunches there were days we didn’t talk about much. We just enjoyed each other’s company. On other days, we talked about the next project and how to do it. That experience was not only invaluable, it was one of the best experiences of my life. Sitting with my dad made what would have been an impossible job possible. But more than that, those lunches with dad made the job enjoyable, fulfilling, and memorable.

There are a two lessons I learned from that experience. The first is that time sitting with a mentor is time well spent. This is especially true when the mentor is someone who loves and respects you. My dad was my first mentor, but not my last. As I have sat beside mentors over the years, I always feel honored and accepted. And when I sit with God, it is invaluable time that has eternal consequences. He takes my negative self talk and transforms it into thoughts that inspire me to keep going forward. As I sit with God, He turns my anger into a desire to understand myself and the one with whom I am angry. He takes what feels like an impossible situation and turns it into a fulfilling one. 

The second lesson is that God calls us into vocations, tasks, and ministries. The fact that my dad had so much confidence in me helped me to complete the tasks asked of me. And so it is in our lives as we understand God’s will in our personal lives. He has a plan for you and for me. Every time I have heard His call and responded, I have the confidence to know that He will accomplish more through me than I would ever ask or think. 

No matter what life brings, how tough the circumstances become, or the trials that come our way, we have the assurance that God invites us to sit next to Him in the place of honor. When you sit with God and allow His strength and His power to overcome the circumstances and trials that are in your life, you are the victor. The key is sitting by God’s side, listening to Him speak, and being patient to allow Him to do the work. If you’re like me, that is a difficult task. But there is no shortcut to peace of mind and joy of heart. It always comes at the side of God. What would it look like for you to sit with God this week?

Take Heart!

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.  John 16:33

Trials and sorrows come in many shapes and forms. They are part of the human experience as we know it. No one escapes them. Everyone has them. And yet the trials and sorrows we all experience can be part of a peace-filled, purpose-filled, joy-filled life. There are times when our trials and sorrows overwhelm and discourage us, while there are other times when they become the foundation of spiritual growth and peace. So what makes the difference? How can we claim the promise of Romans 8:28 that all things work together for good for those who love God?

Jesus took the time to prepare His disciples for the cross. He knew they were expecting Him to be an earthly king who would overthrow the Roman government. He knew His death would be a major trial for them causing great and overwhelming sorrow. Can you imagine how devastating it must have been to the disciples to see Jesus hanging on the cross? All of their hopes and dreams of a life with Him must have vanished. They must have felt the deepest sorrow possible. They may even have felt abandoned and all alone.

Can you identify with their experience? Have you ever felt all alone? Misunderstood? Abandoned by others and by God? Most, if not all, of us know what this feels like. We have been discouraged by the trials of life, the sorrows of this earth. Many of us are facing such trials at this very moment. But Jesus explains to us today as He did to His disciples 2000 years ago that what we physically see is rarely the full story. Consider the Cross. What felt like total loss and abandonment was actually the greatest act of love providing  the greatest power and the eternal presence of God ever to be experienced in the universe.

Not only did sin die with Jesus on that Cross, but the Holy Spirit was released to live in our hearts with the power to bring peace and victory in the presence of every trial and sorrow. When we realize this fact, we can experience God’s peace in every circumstance. Because love conquered sin on the Cross, Jesus is able to turn apparent loss, abandonment, trials, and even sorrow into a peace that passes all understanding. And this peace is found IN Jesus.

If you are having trials or sorrows, “take heart.” Abide in Jesus as He has overcome the world! Allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in your heart. Peace comes when we live by faith in a love relationship with Jesus who gives us the ability to see beyond the circumstances of this life and turn our trials into opportunities and our sorrows into joy.

Who Are You?

Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.   John 13: 3-5

The thing that astonishes me about Jesus is that His exalted position and unlimited power motivated Him to serve. And He didn’t just serve in an ordinary capacity, but in the lowliest of positions to do what no one else would do. So He was born in a stable as an infant rather than appear in a palace as a king. He built things for others as a carpenter rather than having things built for Him as a land owner. He went to places defiled by lepers and prostitutes to touch them and become one with them rather than places of honor to be separate from them. He died alone on a cross to save all of humanity rather than a bed surrounded by friends to save His dignity. And when He walked into that upper room to share a final meal with His disciples and knew He was God in flesh, His response was to serve rather than be served.

The path to peace, joy, purpose, and health in this life is not found in gratifying myself in places of comfort and positions of power, but in loving others in places of need and positions of service. When I developed recurrent cardiac symptoms, my initial response was one of denial. But I have discovered that any journey to health is a journey to self-awareness. Before we can help others, we must know who we are and what we have to offer.  We see this principle illustrated in the life of Jesus in John 13. It is because Jesus was self-aware that He served others. It is because Jesus knew that He was God that He knew what He had to do. 

Today I am more aware than ever before that I am a child of God defined by His love and grace in my life, not by the failed bypass grafts or small arteries in my heart. Though I continue to seek the best path forward to treat my cardiac condition, I realize true healing only comes as I humble myself to God’s will for my life and His presence in my heart. It’s okay that I can’t ride my bike as fast, run as much, or swim like I once could. Those things are fun and good. But they are not the things I must do to find peace and joy in life. Rather, as a child of God, I simply need to humble myself to the will of God and be the hands and feet of Jesus to those around me. Once I know who I am, I know what I need to do. 

So it’s true. My cardiac condition does not define who I am. God does. Once I embraced this fact, I realized that He has my heart in His hands. I now know that my health challenge does not limit what God wants to accomplish in and through me. In fact, I know that my heart condition is a blessing as I allow it to inform me about my mortality in this life and the assurance of immortality in the next. The amazing thing about my own health challenge is that my heart has become more open to God’s heart resulting in more peace than ever before. Perhaps this is what Paul meant when he said,  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

If you’re looking for peace and purpose in life, perhaps you have not yet discovered your true identity. What would it look like to see yourself as a child of God? How would that change who you are and what you would do?

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