When I was growing up, I thought obstacle courses were really cool & if the truth be known, I still think they’re cool. I like how they make you use different ways to overcome obstacles – whether it’s climbing a wall, crawling though a pipe, hoping into small platforms, etc, I like all of that stuff (and the TV shows that do the spoofs on obstacle courses are nothing less than hilarious, but I’ll save that for another day). But here’s something to consider: everyday we face various obstacles (big, little, emotional, relational, financial, wisdom, etc). We can perceive these things are obstacles & hardships or we can see them for what they really are: helpful exercises to enable us to be closer & more intimate a God. So let’s celebrate the various obstacle courses in our lives because we are letting them work into our hearts a deeper relationship & trust in God! 🙂
Sometimes I get in situations that seem “tricky” – like being squeezed between a rock & a hard place. I can’t say that I find these experiences to be very enjoyable nor pleasant. In fact, if I had a vote, I’d take alterior routes to avoid the rock & hard place spots. Nevertheless, we all have these kinds of situations & “opportunities” – so what do we do with & in them? Here are a few ideas:
*pray a lot & ask for God’s intervention
*work hard & keep you eyes on God (helps the attitude)
*work out / exercise because it helps to burn off some stress
*drink a lot of water (less caffeine & sugar)
*snag a few Bible verses to memorize so that if your thinking gets whacky, you have some healthy fall back thought replacements 🙂
Remember that God made rocks, rivers & erosion ,)
I’ve been thinking about Abraham lately & how God tested him in Genesis 22 and instructed him to sacrifice his only son, the son of promise, Isaac. Thankfully, we can read the end of the chapter & celebrate with Abraham that God provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in place of Isaac – God sees our needs and has provision waiting for those needs. But I’ve been thinking about the 3 day journey that Abraham took with Isaac to get to the place where he was supposed to sacrifice his son. If I were in Abraham’s sandals, those 3 days would have been the absolute & most abhorrent days of my life – knowing what I was assigned by God to do. The revelation at the end of the journey was nothing less than heavenly (Abraham experienced God in an extremely powerful way) but the journey was nothing less than hell.
Sometimes the journey in our life can be an almost living hell, but let me encourage you that God is walking with you for every step and there’s a great possibility that through this journey, you will come to know God in such a heavenly way that the hell of the journey will pale in comparison to the heaven of the revelation 🙂
Ok, before you get stressed out with me about the title of this blog, here’s something good that I’m observing that can come from stress. Probably like you, I have varying degrees of stress in my life – from the quickie stress that comes from being late bc of traffic to the massive stress that can come from job & family pressures (or various other things). What I’m noticing is that the greater the intensity of the stress the more I find myself pressing into God & ultimately, it is never a bad thing to press into God nor to depend on God, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel.
So what we do with stress can often be more important than the actual stress 🙂
We all have problems of different sizes, challenges, seasons & shapes. It seems to me that sometimes problems come in herds – either they’re few & far between or they seem to spill out from every corner & area of life.
Some problems we can solve on our own & some problems require help because they’re beyond our ability & resources. It seems to me that when I get in these problem intense seasons that I can get myopic & only see 1 solution or answer. The problem with myopia is that there’s limited focus & for me it’s usually on the wrong thing (the problem & not God).
So here’s the short answer: God has solutions, ideas, resources & methods for resolution of which we’ve never dreamed. I’m reminded that God has more answers than I had questions & God has more solutions than I have problems 🙂
One of movies that always makes me laugh is Miss Congeniality – there are some parts that are obviously cheesy & sketchy, but the whole tom-girl, secret agent competing in a beauty pageant plot makes me laugh ALOT!!!! And back in the Bible days, there was also a beauty pageant that had lots of drama, danger & suspense – the story of Esther.
Over the last few days I’ve been reading Esther & I’m always impressed with Mordecai, Esther’s surrogate parent. I admire his integrity, honor, courage & character in the face of great anger, animosity & even violent intent from Hamaan, the evil villain. But here’s what has caught my eye this time: despite Hamaan’s best efforts, Mordecai was given honor even at the expense of Hamaan’s position. There’s one point where Hamaan was conspiring to hang Mordecai & when he came to express his desire to the king, the king asked Hamaan’s opinion on how to best honor someone. After giving the king all of the ways that Hamaan wanted to be honored, the king told Hamaan to go out & implement Hamaan’s ideas with Mordecai. Hamaan wound up leading the horse that Mordecai rode on, crying out that Mordecai was an example of how the king honored those whom the king favored.
Don’t you know that Hamaan was more than humiliated by having to publicly honor Mordecai, whom he hated with murderous intent?!
So here’s my take away: maintain your integrity, grace & poise regardless of your enemies & God can take something very evil & dangerous & make it into a blessing in your life 🙂
One of the mentors in my life has this saying, “dignify the trial”. I used to get cranky with him about this idea, but the more I think about it, the more I agree with this idea. When he’s talked w me about dignifying the difficulty, he means that when I’m in a tough situation that I can bring dignity to the challenge, as opposed to making the trial a pity party. Whenever I’m facing a hardship or difficulty, I have a choice to make – I can gripe, moan, worry, complain, fight, argue and other things that could possibly not be constructive. Or I can make the choice to dignify the difficulty. In my mind, that means that I don’t run around, complain, whine advertise my struggle & gripe about it to any listening ear. To dignify the difficulty, that means that I bear up under the struggle, looking to God for strength, wisdom & help. I may chose to share with a person my struggle in a very private way, but I’m not advertising my hardship to gain sympathy, support, pity or commiseration.
I’m exploring this idea in my daily living with some difficulties that you probably face as well & so far, this idea of dignifying the difficulty has been very rewarding in a very personal way. I’m particularly liking the idea of leaning into God for His strength & support, rather than advertising my struggle – this seems to be much more constructive & beneficial 🙂