Doing It Wrong

I often convince myself that I want to know exactly how life is going to go. I want no surprises. I want what I want when I want it. I often look at opposition to my plans as a part of the evil that goes on around me. That’s a lot easier than stopping and re-evaluating things and admitting, “I’m doing it wrong.”

Sometimes, God sends someone along to show me that I’m doing it wrong. I snicker and think to myself, “They’re doing it wrong.”

Other times, someone will just come right out and say, “You’re doing it wrong.” I won’t give it a second thought since it is obvious that they are doing it wrong and want to take me down with them.

I guess I need to stop and listen to whether the words are advice or condemnation. I’m afraid that I may be tuning out a lot of good advice while I am tuning out all the crazy condemnation that is spewing forth all around me.

I also need to stop and listen. Am I really being told that I am doing it wrong or do I want to be right so bad that I hear any words of encouragement to improve on things as criticism and put-downs?

Proverbs 12:1 To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.

Honestly, I’ve had most of this backwards for most of my life. I’ve hated discipline, I’ve hated correction and I’ve toiled on through life doing things wrong despite wisdom and great advice being within arm’s reach and earshot. I’ve fought hard against learning anything except for thinks from hard knocks and it takes a lot of lumps and brokenness far too often to let a lesson sink in.

I’ve taken discipline to mean imprisonment and refused it so that I could submit to the captivity that comes as the consequences of my own foolish actions, many of which would not have occurred had I learned a bit more along the way rather than thwart learning and gone the way of hard knocks.

It is time to shake off the concussion syndrome and work harder to submit to discipline and correction, allow the fog to clear and stop doing so much wrong. I need to seek out God’s word for wisdom, people that offer support finding wisdom and living wiser and swallow my pride long enough to admit there is a possibility that I am wrong more than I like to believe.

That way, I don’t seem so foolish when I decide to stand up and let fools tell me how wrong I am when I am right. No one is going to listen to a fool say, “Get in out of the rain!” when he is battered and bruised by staying out in a hailstorm.

When I change my wrongdoing by first ceasing to deny it and seeking to be corrected, my actions and words will be more credible. I haven’t arrived on this journey yet. I have a lot of wrong that needs adjusting or complete rebuilding. I don’t have to be afraid to do it. I need only to be afraid to ignore it.

 

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I’m a Little Discouraged

I’ve been doing this kind of writing for several years now.  I’m not sure what you call this kind of writing.  I’ve been on WordPress for a little over a year.  WordPress shows you how many people read your blog.  At its best, this blog is a modest one.  Not very many people read the words I write.  I’d like for more to read but I know this type of thing isn’t for everybody.  In fact, June was the worst month for readership in the history of my labors to write something worthwhile.

I strive to encourage others but it appears that I sometimes am discouraged that no one is interested in my encouragement.

I have to be honest, every year, at least once, I am discouraged to the point that I feel I should start my day some other way, that no one will notice my blog falling into the pit of time wasted trying to do what I could not do.

I feel maybe I can do something more productive, more help to others or more rewarding.

But doing what I do, forces me to look at things in a bigger world than the one that just satisfies me.  It pushes me into God’s world, into God’s word and God’s wonders that bless my life and I live almost as though I am nearly normal.

I’ve spent a lifetime feeling like a broken, malfunctioning outcast trying desperately to fit into something somewhere.  I felt like I couldn’t be what God wanted me to be.  My struggles were concealed and I carried the burden alone, trying to be good enough for God, sometimes giving up and at other times pushing forward by the power of my own will.

It was miserable.

So, even if no one reads these words today, I will continue on, pushing toward hope through the power of Jesus Christ and the promises he has made to me and the grace of his blood over me.

I’m still a bit discouraged.  There’s no shame in that.  The shame comes in giving up doing what is best.  Living with a little discouragement is far better than living in shame.  Discouragement is often the doorway to joy.

 

Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater

An article I wrote five years back, still rings true!

First of all, this article has nothing to do with eating pumpkins.  It has a lot to do with cheating and the effect it has on life.

Recently a seventy-two year old Minnesota man was caught cheating in the local American Legion fishing derby. You would think that at the ripe old age of seventy-two that a man would have learned that cheating at anything would be nothing but trouble. But people are stupid, well, they do stupid things. Our desire to win oftentimes blinds us to our sense of fairness and our ability to make good choices. Apparently the villain in our story finagled some fish into the contest angled from another lake. I don’t know exactly how he got caught but when he did the cops led him away in disgrace in front of an angry crowd of men, women and children. His community now knows him as something different than he was before and his seventy-two years stand for something not so awesome.

The reason this story caught my eye and the reason I am sharing it with you is a quote that this fellow made to a police officer after his scheme to win the derby fell apart.

“What can I say? I got caught,” he reportedly told a police officer. “God told me not to do it but I did it anyway.”

I read those words and they rang through my head, bouncing around the empty space around my brain. I know that there shouldn’t be a lot of empty space around my brain but sometimes I feel like my brain in my head is like a BB in a boxcar. I mean, as stupid as what this guy did knowing full well it was wrong and even admitting that he was actually prompted to not go through with this dumb plan, I have been just as stupid and done far worse things. God told me not to do them but I did them anyway. What is this disobedience that wells up inside me making me inflict damage on myself and others around me? Why do I allow myself to be humiliated by my actions to win a prize that I didn’t earn or deserve?

Proverbs 10:9 People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.

I have to intentionally maintain my integrity. It doesn’t matter what other people think about me, I have to strive to build my integrity until it is pure. That makes it a lifelong process.

Luke 16:10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”

The cheater from the fishing derby didn’t just wake up one morning and say, “Hey! Let’s go from being a totally honest and upright guy to being a cheater and defrauding my friends and other fishermen!” Apparently he had been caught at other times with having too many fish and illegal tackle. That doesn’t sound like that big of a deal. It seems like he had started letting his integrity collapse slowly. He had probably doing a lot of other stuff that he hadn’t gotten caught doing. He had been letting his integrity erode to the point that his transgressions were getting larger and eventually he felt like it was more important for him to win illegally than it was to lose fair and square.

I have to keep myself from letting my integrity crumble. I have to shore it up and keep it clean. I have to build upon it and let it rise toward the heavens. It is a tribute to God guiding my steps and filling my life.

Proverbs 10:8 The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their faces.

I must gladly return to the feet of God each day, happy to be instructed by what His Word says! It is only this wisdom that can keep me from being a fool making a lot of noise with my mouth and then busting my face on the concrete. I can recall many of those events happening as I write this today.

Proverbs 10:7 We have happy memories of the godly, but the name of a wicked person rots away.

God, make my actions be those that cause happy memories. Do not let my integrity rot away. Instruct me and teach me the right things to do. Remind me to be faithful in all things great and small. Amen.

Some of the above content was taken from an article by Jay Busbee in The Turnstile.

Hungry Enough to Quit

The Israelites followed Moses out of slavery to the Egyptians. There was great joy in leaving a place where they felt oppressed and used. A nation without a land of their own was beginning to venture out to blaze a trail to a new place that would bear their name.

They were leaving behind a land of spiritual confusion and submission to create a new land where they could serve the one true God and live under their own laws. It had to be a very liberating feeling. After all, they were being liberated.

They were leaving Egypt. A dream was becoming reality. I can picture the equivalent of a huge wagon train leaving the cities of the eastern United States bound for the unknown of the west. I’m sure this is the point in history that the phrase was first uttered, perhaps about ten minutes from the time that the cities of Egypt disappeared over the horizon, “Are we there yet?”

Then, moments after the first complaint that it was taking too long to reach the promised land, they realized the very ones that had released them from bondage were on the way to take them back. This makes me wonder why I have never heard the phrase “Egyptian Giver”. Maybe there is an equivalent to that and I just haven’t dug deep enough to find it.

God stepped in to deliver them from the “Egyptian Givers” as they crossed the Red Sea and they were home free, they wished. Are we there yet? They encountered hardship after hardship and God provided for them. But when they ran out of food in the middle of nowhere with no McDonald’s, no Burger King and not even a Waffle House in sight they became really discouraged. The more their stomachs growled, the more they grumbled.

Exodus 16:3 “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.”

When I get hungry I get pretty crabby. My body starts complaining to my brain, my brain doesn’t want to hear it, all the complaining gives my brain a headache, my brain starts to complain to the rest of my body, my stomach responds by making embarrassing sounds and getting a queasy feeling and the world in general begins to look bleak. Even a couple of crackers can temporarily bring the world back into balance again but I know that sooner or later I am going to have to stuff the empty cavern in my gut with some substantial sustenance.

The Israelites were far hungrier than I have probably ever been. They felt they would die. They should have known they wouldn’t because they had sufficient evidence that God doesn’t drag His people out into the wilderness to kill them off, but when a person is hungry they think some pretty stupid things. At least in Egypt they knew they could eat even if it meant they weren’t free. They wanted food and they wanted it right now. So God gave them food.

Exodus 16:4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions.

God sent them manna. Manna was…well, I don’t know exactly what it was. It was food. It appeared every morning. They didn’t hunt it or gather it from the area around the camp. It was just there on the ground. Did they have to have food to keep going?

You might quickly say, “Yes!” But the true answer is no. God could have sustained them without them taking a bite of food. I think they felt they needed to eat in order to believe they could carry on. So God had to sustain them in a way that they could wrap their minds around. But He did it with something they couldn’t understand.

The stuff would rot if they tried to store it. They had to get new stuff every morning except for on the Sabbath, the manna would last an extra day so they didn’t have to collect the food from the ground when they should be worshiping the God that provided.

There are times that I retreated into the clutches of slavery because I didn’t believe that God was paying attention. I felt as if I was alone in the wilderness and God wasn’t with me anymore. I went back to the things God had delivered me from because I mistakenly felt I would not survive in the place God had brought me to.

I have wasted a lot of years traveling back and forth between freedom and slavery. That ground between those two places is beat down with my footprints. The place God has been trying to lead me is like virgin wilderness. He wants to take me where no man has gone before. He wants me to trust Him and know that whatever I need to get from here to there is in His pocket and He will give it to me when I truly need it. Those things may be out of the realm of my imagination. They may be things no man has ever seen before.

Philippians 4:19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. 20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.

God, help me to trust in you no matter where I am and how far away you feel. Help me to know that you are my help and you are always ready. You will not let me die. Amen.

Hit Me With a Happy Stick

I wrote this a few years ago but still think it is worth sharing again.

A day can be difficult for no good reason. That’s how yesterday was for me. I didn’t feel good but I didn’t feel terrible, yet there was a cloud hanging over me the entire day. I didn’t want to laugh and make jokes, not even my favorite kind of jokes that make people cringe at the low quality of the humor. I avoided a lot of conversations and kept to myself as much as I could.

I wasn’t happy with how several things were going and was looking for ways to be unhappy with how the other things were going.

There are times that I wish God would just smack me with a happy stick. At least I have learned that when God refuses to use that stick on my hard head that it doesn’t me I have to scheme and search for a way to find something in my life that God won’t provide. Now I know that when I am beginning to feel depressed that I have to search for things God wants to provide that I refuse to receive.

My brain, at times, tells me that I don’t need what God is pouring into my life and that it won’t do any good. My brain, at times, is stupid.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Sometimes doing all those good things gets hard, I get tired, selfishness kicks in, my head hurts, my feet ache, blah, blah, blah…I go into excuse mode and I can rationalize all sorts of reasons that I can’t serve God today. I can just sit back and do nothing and wonder why it seems like God has taken the day off.

Often, most of the time, God does his best work in me through the work I do for him. If my brain is busy thinking of ways to do less for him, well, that stupid old brain is leading me down the wrong path. If I choose to do what I know God wants me to do, I may have to actually miss watching some television and lose out on some couch time or take the high road in a conflict at work but it isn’t going to drive me into exhaustion where depression seems to thrive and ruin my days.

Jude 1:16 These people are grumblers and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires. They brag loudly about themselves, and they flatter others to get what they want.

When I get down on life and struggle it doesn’t take long for that verse in Jude to be a pretty good description of myself. I know others like that and the sour taste their presence leaves in a room. I really don’t want to lose my vision of what God should be in my life and focus on what I want for myself in life. I become the sour taste in the lives of others.

I was very good at the things that Jude writes about. That’s not a good thing, though. It is a list of bad habits that I have to work hard every day to be aware of and avoid. It is not a part of doing the good things God has planned for me.

Jude 1:20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.

On the down days, in the down times, I have to be careful not to isolate. I need to continue to try to build others up, pray and let the mercy of God hit me with a happy stick. A few tough days don’t take the eternal out of the life God is giving me. There is no safety in running away and hiding out. God’s safety is applied to me when I obey him and allow his salve of peace to permeate my dry skin and achy bones, stiff joints and throbbing head. I’m slowly learning that every tough day, every pain and ache my soul has felt, all the flaws that I struggle with are for his glory and part of what I have to give others. I’m not ashamed of a tough day any more because through it I learn to be more like him.

Pajamas at Walmart

The other day, I saw a lady riding a bike in her pajamas.  In the past, I have done lots of bike riding but I have to admit, none of it was done while wearing pajamas.  Most of it was done in some sort of shorts or jeans.

In fact, I’d be worried that the floppy legs on the PJ’s would get wrapped in the chair causing the ride to come to an abrupt halt separating me from said PJ’s.

But lately, it seems there are pajamas everywhere I go.  Walmart seems to have the highest amount of pajama wearers coming through the doors.  My grandson thought it was great a couple months ago, greeting another shopper with, “Hey!  You’re wearing your pajamas!”

I don’t really understand the whole pajamas in public thing.  I feel weird just checking my mailbox with my Batman lounge pants on.

Do people that wear their pajamas during the day wear regular clothes to bed?  Or do they just wear pajamas all the time?

I don’t know the answers to those burning questions.  I’m not sure I want to know.

But as I sit here and type, there is a certain amount of pride beginning to swell up inside of me because I don’t wear pajamas to Walmart or Denny’s or wherever.  I wear outside clothes outside and pajamas to bed.

James 1:8 Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 9 But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.

I can read this and insert a lot of “Yeah buts”.  Yeah but, they are wearing pajamas.  Yeah but wee don’t want pajamas at church.  Yeah but I don’t want company coming to my house in pajamas!  Yeah but pajamas are not clothes, they are pajamas!

Yeah but, I am more comfortable with people dressed appropriately.  Yeah but pajamas at dinner is just gross!

I hope you know by now that I’m not just talking about pajamas.  There are a hundred or thousands of other things that I allow to separate me from others.  I tend to use the excuse that since I identify more with people that look like I want them to look, those are the people I should reach out to.  The truth is, I like people that I don’t think are weird.  I want to reach people that will be my buddy, that like what I like and do stuff I like to do.

God doesn’t want a bunch of clones running around.  If he wanted that, he would create it.  He made us all different.  Some of us wear PJ’s to Walmart.  Others fish too much.

Here’s the truth.  When I look at others and laugh them off, ridicule them, criticize them without loving them, I am disobedient to God.  Pajamas at Walmart will always seem funny to me but I am not more deserving of Got’s grace and love than that person is.  We are just different in that way.  Our need for God is the same.

Things I Need

Throughout the course of a normal day, my mind is bombarded by my needs.  I need food, not just any food, I need good food.  I need steaks and giant sandwiches and nachos and french fries, tasty delicacies that make me fat and happy.

I need a house, not just any house.  I need a house that is decorated inside and out, that stands out in brilliance among the other houses.  I need a fine, fine house that I can sit comfortably inside and eat delicious food.

I need a fishing pole, more fishing gear.  I need a better truck.  I need a bigger camper.  I need, I need, I need.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with those things.  But when it comes to those things, I certainly have more than I need.  In fact, I’ve become so accustomed to having more than I need that I have a hard time telling what I need from what I just want.  I think that here in this country, everyone expects to have more than they need.

Even a lot of those that we look at and feel they are lacking have nice smart phones, clothes and shoes.

Yet, I am needy.  I am blessed with all this stuff, a good job, a fantastic roof over my head and a great family but I am still in need.

See, at the end of every day, I can look back and I feel like the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz about how I lived part of it.

If I only had a brain.

Like that scarecrow, I have a brain.  It just doesn’t always function in the smartest way.

James 1:If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

Now, that sounds easy.  I need to be able to have brains and apply them to do the right things.  All I have to do is ask God.  Right?  WRONG!

James 1:But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

This has always been a problem for me.  I want to be brilliantly wise.  I really do.  But, it seems that I want the fruits of that wisdom to make life great for me.  I want to put faith in God as long as he pours his blessings out upon me.  As soon as things look bad, I look at the bad and just when I should be leaning hard into God, I fall away into my world of misapplied wisdom.

If I want wisdom, I need to ask for it and understand that it isn’t all about me.  Jesus didn’t come to earth and die on the cross for himself.  He did it for me and everyone else in this world that is undeserving and unable to do enough on their own to right the ship that is taking them far from God.

The example I am to follow wasn’t a selfish consumer of God’s blessings, even though that sometimes sounds like a pretty good gig if I could get it.  It isn’t best for God’s plan, me included.

If I look around me, I can see lots of unstable behavior.  It is all over the place and my mentality tells me to join in the party of instability, the wavering crowd of whim and fancy that seems to change every day.  But that’s not wisdom.  Wisdom doesn’t come from a crowd or political party or church organization or my job or the things I own.  It comes from God…alone.

In God alone, my trust and faith and loyalty must lie there to set my feet firmly on a place I can stand through it all and come out on the other side wise.

This quest for wisdom isn’t optional.  I’m not expected to arrive in heaven as stupid as I was on the day I was first born again.  I’m to become wiser by learning to put my all in him.  I need it.  I need it like the air I breathe, the water I drink and the sun that warms my days.  This is what I need today.  More than anything I need to renew my trust and find the courage to give something to God I have not been able to let go of before.

 

 

Wearing Glasses

A little while ago I picked up my glasses and put them on. I’d like to say that I don’t need glasses and that my eyes are still 20/20…I’d like to say that but it wouldn’t be true. I need these stupid glasses if I want to read or do just about anything that requires me to differentiate the wall in front of me from my dinner. My eyes are sadly aging and not functioning like they once did.

Anyway, I put my glasses on and my blurry vision actually got worse. No, this wasn’t one of those times I accidentally put someone else’s glasses on. These were my specks. They were just filthy. There were smudges on them from being mishandled, greasy fingerprints that made viewing the world even more difficult. It would be awful silly for me to blame the glasses. The film obstructing my view wasn’t part of the glasses. It was added on by me.

God wants me to see clearly. That’s why he carefully put together his words in such a way that I can grow and become more and more like him. His word is a special pair of glasses that allow me to see him as I should. Sometimes, though, I don’t see him as I should and it is because I have allowed smudges and filth to cloud the view through his word. This is the thing that really makes me feel that God doesn’t make sense, his word doesn’t speak and my life is out of control. None of these things are true but I feel them to be true because I am looking at life and God through dirty glasses.

A while back, we went to see a movie and they handed us ugly sunglass looking things at the door. They were 3D glasses. When the movie came on everyone happily put on their glasses so that they could get the full experience of the movie. I took my glasses off at one point. The movie was pretty unspectacular. The picture was blurry and dull and the characters had colored auras around them. I put the glasses back on and the blurred image came to life. It wasn’t like just any movie. There was a fullness that could not be experienced watching without those goofy shades.

Living a christian life without a clear understanding of God’s word is not too bright if you sit and think about it. Yet, many of us attempt it. Oh, some of us really know all about God’s word but clear understanding is something we just don’t see. We don’t want to look silly wearing those glasses. So instead, we just decide to look silly obeying God’s commands in ways that God never intended for us to because we insist on seeing them the way we want to see them.

I am learning that I need to put on the glasses and enjoy the view rather than worry about what I look like wearing them. God wants to add fullness and color and light to my life and he really wants me to see what I’ve been missing. He wants me to clean my smudges of selfishness and expectation off of the lenses and see what is really there. He desires to overwhelm me with his greatness and perfection and power and then fill me with understanding that all of that awesomeness that is God is on my side. He wants that to be clear and real in my life, not inhibited by what I think I can see or distorted by the filth I carry as I learn about him.

Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

There is a film of debris that comes between the real God and the God I perceive. I can set about removing it and it will change my life. I have lived a life serving a God limited by what I see as possible. It is time to see God, the real God and throw those limits out the window.

Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

Jesus called the disciples to clean their glasses, to stop viewing God’s words with human limitations and expectations. It was time to see God’s plan the way God sees it and stop getting in God’s way and slowing him down because they saw limitations that don’t exist in God’s world. We live in God’s world, not our world. Even the laws of nature are mere suggestions when God decides to go to work in our lives. Nothing is a barrier except our unwillingness to see God as he is.

I can get up out of bed every single day and think of reasons that God is going to have a tough time dealing with the world today. Those reasons are not even visible through the eyes of God. They are smudges on my own perception of God’s power and need to be wiped away if I want to understand God and all he has in store for me.

Grand Plans

I’ve had a lot of grand plans through the years. As I sit here in this house getting ready to head out to work, it is really obvious they didn’t work out. I was supposed to be rich and famous by now with everything I could possibly need right here handy. Work was supposed to be over and done with by this point in my life.

But plans are usually just plans. Most people aren’t willing to put in the time and effort and sacrifice to make them come to pass. I admire the people who saw what they needed to do decades ago and made it happen. I’m too easily distracted. Oh, look! A squirrel!

The fact is, all my plans were about me. If they had come to be, I wouldn’t be any better off than I am now. I’d probably be worse off and there is a possibility that I wouldn’t even still be alive. A lot of my plans appear pretty stupid now.

Proverbs 21:30 No human wisdom or understanding or plan can stand against the Lord.

Even though many of my plans involved God, they were still about me. I figured God needed me and so I’d give him a shot to show the world how awesome I was. Of course, he didn’t appease my ego and I got my feelings hurt and changed my plans. My plans were not to be a part of God’s plan but to help God make plans.

That sounds really moronic but it is, in truth, the way I functioned.

My plans tended to fall apart and collapse under the weight of what life is really about. My thoughts were shallow and self-serving and couldn’t weather life’s storms. I was an utter failure when I compared my reality to my dreams.

Today I can live knowing that God is in control, standing strong, making his plan for me and everyone else that lets go of their futile plans and sets their desires to be a part of God’s plan, whatever that is, wherever it leads and however meager it appears.

My ego doesn’t need to be a part of it at all. God gives me other things like integrity and truth. My ego is a liar that doesn’t deserve the attention it craves.

There has been a subtle change in my life that I don’t always notice. I don’t have to be the center of attention. It is a peaceful place to be. Competing for the center with God is very stressful. Living with faith in God and where he has brought me and what he places before me has been a delightful change for me.

Today he places another day of work ahead of me, with all its challenges and problems and at times monotony. But God will be there with me, doing great things and allowing me to be a part of them. Even if those great things are hard for me to see at times, they are still there and I am looking forward to them.

 

Tough Times

It has been a tough week.  I can remember dealing with tough weeks via chemical enhancement.  I can assure you that this method does make a tough week better but after a while, good weeks are tough and require this treatment.  Eventually, the chemical fantasy world becomes reality and reality becomes just another part of insanity.

I can also recall dealing with a tough week by getting angry.  When the going got tough, I got extremely riled up.  I was going to kick tough in the butt and keep kicking till its backside was in the same location as its neck.

Tough times are not easily kicked aside, up, down or otherwise.

I have tried numerous approaches to combat tough times.  None of them worked.

Romans 8:18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.

Tough times are a part of life.  If times don’t get tough, I am going anywhere.  To be honest, I think that even when we get to heaven and become who we really are in Christ, we will still be challenged.  God isn’t preparing us for a world full of laziness, gluttony and harp music.

I have seen a lot of people in my life who, when given everything they could possibly ever need or want, take their own lives.  Tough times knock at the door of all, rich or poor, talented or not, tall kids, short kids, kids who climb on rocks, fat kids, skinny kids, even kids with chicken pox.

Sometimes it seems that at the end of every difficulty we conquer, there is another difficulty to conquer.

But I can tell you this, I am never the same person I was after each trial.  I am constantly growing toward who I really am.

I can sit here this morning and look back a little over five years and see a desperate fool, hopelessly stumbling around into trial and troubles of his own creation, a fool blind and weak and confused spending the nights in fear and terror and the days in shame and trepidation.

Often, I am still that fool.  But, I can see rays of glory.  There is an indication of where I am going and where I have been seems far, far away even though I know I can return there in a heartbeat if I give up and turn away from my future.

Tomorrow’s glory isn’t a pot at the end of a rainbow.  It is the reward at the end of a struggle.  I can see now why the bible says weird stuff about being glad to endure hardship.  My hardship has delivered me to a better place and tomorrow’s battle will set my feet on higher ground.

I know today won’t be an easy one.  I’m good with that.  I will not only survive but I will thrive.  Bring it on.