In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The new year comes with challenges

Graphic from Snips & Spice
 Do you ever feel like your life is too much?   Like you're not up for it?

 Sometimes I do.

I'm in a season of my life right now where I'm dealing with some big challenges.

I keep reminding myself that God has me right where He knew, before all of time, that I would be.  I keep choosing to believe the truth that if He has allowed me to be in these situations, then He will equip me to be effective.  He'll use me to change situations, circumstances, and people - or He will change me.

Given this, a quote from Mary Anne Radmacher that I read a couple of weeks ago keeps reverberating in the back of my mind: "Courage does not always roar.  Sometimes it is a quiet voice at the end of the day, saying, I will try again tomorrow."

It is with this mindset that I came to my time with God this morning.  I'm currently working my way through the book of 1 Thessalonians.  As I read the 2nd verse in the second chapter it stood out to me this morning:

We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition (NIV).

Off the top of my head I couldn't remember what exactly had occurred to Paul when he was in Phillipi.  I had to re-read the account in Acts 16:16-40.   Then I had one of those oh yeah, now I remember moments.  This is the account when Paul and Silas were out preaching and a demon possessed slave woman kept following them around yelling. Paul found it difficult to preach with all that noise so he cast out the demons. Her owners were upset because her demons allowed her to tell fortunes and made them money.  So her owners stirred up opposition to Paul and Silas.  Paul and Silas ended up being stripped, beaten with rods, then put in the inner most cell of the prison with their feet in shackles.  This is the same account where later they were singing and praising God, an earthquake occurred, their chains were broken, and the cell doors opened.  They stayed and got all the other prisoners to stay as well.  The guard ended up taking them home and tending to their wounds.  The guard and his household came to faith through the whole experience.

What hit me this morning was that being beaten with rods and imprisoned in shackles must had been a wretched experience.  The kind of experience that can make one not want to risk that again.  Paul came into Thessalonica and was again opposed, but he went ahead preaching any way.  From these verses I  think that Paul experienced trepidation.  He wasn't some kind of super hero who didn't care if he was beaten or imprisoned; that fact caused normal human fear about going out there and preaching again. But he went out there any way.  He wanted to follow God's leading, and he looked to God for help. God empowered Him to rise above any fear and go ahead.

God can do that for me too. But how?

Romans 8:20-30 talks about the fact that we live in a world where sin has it's effect.  All of creation looks forward to a better future.  ( I think this better future referenced here is both the Millennium as well as the new heaven and new earth.) In the context of this discussion about how we are suffering now I come to the 27th & 28th verses:

 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)

There's so much in these verses:
  • The Holy Spirit is searching our hearts
  • The Holy Spirit is interceding for us that we'd experience God's will
  • God will work in all situations to bring good to us 
 I'm not sure that I really understand about God searching my heart.  He already knows it. I appreciate Beth Moore's words regarding this: "God's testing of our hearts is to our benefit even when we dread what He'll find.  Our freedom comes with the head-on collision between the truth of Christ and God's truth about us. There beauty meets ugly, and authenticity is born."

I know I'm grateful that I've got the Holy Spirit interceding for me that I'll experience God's will. That God will work in all situations to my good.  I want to have an authentic faith that makes a difference.

One of my challenging situations is things going on in the life of my middle son.  I know that I'm praying and praying for this son.   I want to be sure to give this son unconditional love while not approving of all his choices.  I want to be wise in my interactions.  I'm constantly asking God if I should speak the truth boldly, or just quietly wait on Him to work. I'm glad to know that the Holy Spirit is interceding for me and my son.

The other source of challenging situations is problems at work.  There are problems with some of the leaders in the building. Systems are not in place and being followed. The nurses are either not properly trained or are not following their training,  and they have difficulty with logical independent decision making. The director of nursing has many incredibly good characteristics, and many terrible characteristics; she fights me as I'm trying to make positive changes.  Sometimes I struggle with feelings of not being good enough - I'm in charge of this building and have been here for four months and it's still a mess. Then I remember that I believe God gave me this job, so He must know that I can do it.  May He empower me as He did the apostle Paul.

 
  

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