Playing Our Position

Sometimes in life when I’m faced with a big decision, I worry that somehow I’m going to interfere in God’s plan. That I have to be so sure that the decision I make is the right one according to his will so I don’t screw everything up. But it dawned on me that I’m giving myself way more power in God’s sovereign plan than I actually have. If I mess up… No, when I mess up – I am in no way going to somehow change the course of God’s plan. God’s plan is far bigger than me and my choices on earth. God’s ultimate plan will be fulfilled when Christ returns to reign on heaven and earth. 

And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:10‬ ‭

Now as his child, he has given me the opportunity to participate in the unfolding of his plan by using the special gifts he’s given me to fulfill my purpose – to become more and more Christlike as I prepare for eternity in his presence.

For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:29‬ ‭

So when I’m faced with decisions in life and I fear making the wrong one and messing everything up, I need to remember that God is still in control. That he works everything out to the ultimate good for those of us that love him and have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Think of a football game. The ultimate plan of the coach is to win the game. He has a team. Each with his own position to play based on his particular talents. Each has their “purpose”. Sometimes they may play great and maybe even score a touchdown. Sometimes they may mess up and turn the ball over to the other team. But regardless of whether the player failed or succeeded, their purpose hasn’t changed. And the ultimate goal of the coach hasn’t changed, either. He might pull the player off to the sidelines for a few plays so they can regroup. He might have to remind them of the playbook and the plays he’s designed. But he still plans to win the game with each player playing the position they were assigned. 

Obviously this analogy is flawed because the coaches plan might not work out. He might lose. But God’s plan definitely will work exactly as he said it will. The point is that once we’ve surrendered our life to Christ, we’ve joined God’s “team”. We each have our God given gifts and talents that we should be using wherever we happen to be playing the game.  We need to remember that God is in control of the game plan and to set out to play our position the best we can. Sometimes we might gain a lot of yards. Sometimes we might fumble the ball. But no matter what, we get back in the game and keep our eye on the end zone. Our position hasn’t changed – and neither has God’s plan!

  

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Remember God

The LORD is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth. – Psalms‬ ‭145:18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

September 11, 2001 – If you’re over the age of twenty-five, you likely have some vivid memories of what you were doing when you heard what happened. I do. I remember I was at home with my two small boys, still in my pajamas, toggling between feeding a baby and entertaining a preschooler. My husband was already at work when he called me to see if I had heard what happened.  “A plane crashed into the World Trade Center!” He exclaimed. 

Before I even turned on the news, I imagined a horrible accident. An inexperienced pilot must have misjudged somehow and crashed his little plane into the building. How sad. 

As I tuned into the T.V. News, no one seemed sure what had happened. Reporters were scrambling to get the details interviewing witnesses that were obviously shaken up as they watched the massive plumes of smoke billow from the top floors of one of the buildings. Reports of an airplane automatically led people to assume it was some sort of small commuter plane. No one imagined it was a passenger jet. As the reporting continued, I remember seeing another airplane coming into view. “What is it doing there?” I wondered. But before I could even finish my thought, the answer was clear as the top of the second tower exploded upon impact. Suddenly everyone became shockingly aware of what was going on. America was under attack. 

As the attack unfolded, a third plane flew into the Pentagon and we learned of a fourth plane that had been hijacked crashing into a field in Pennsylvania. Eventually we all heard about the heroes on Flight 93 that took it upon themselves to make sure this plane didn’t reach its final destination, wherever that may have been. 

America was in a collective panic and for a moment in time it really changed us. Together we wept the loss of life and rejoiced in the many stories of miracles. Together we prayed for God’s hand to be on America. Together we turned to God because we didn’t know where else to turn. (Some statistics show that in the immediate aftermath of the attacks church attendance went up by as much as 25%.) Together we knew we needed God. 

But it didn’t take long for America to be comfortable again. Life went on. Memorials were erected.  Before we knew it we were back to thinking we were fine on our own. And in the fourteen years since the attack, America has not only decided it doesn’t need God – it has, in many ways, decided to abolish God!

As we spend today reflecting, maybe the best way to honor the memories of that fateful day is to not allow it to have been in vain. Maybe as we reflect on the memories we can allow them to remind us that we do need God. Maybe we could decide to be proactive instead of reactive and develop a faith in the Almighty God before we find ourselves facing another tragedy. 

God wants a personal relationship with us. That is why he sent his Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sins. Today is as good a day as any to acknowledge your need for a Savior and to surrender your life to the only one that can bring you to God. This is the moment to ask Jesus to be your Lord!

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” – ‭‭John‬ ‭14:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. – ‭‭James‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. – ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. – ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

  

Desensitized

Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. Ephesians 4:19

Nothing is a big deal anymore. 

Desensitization is a concept I’ve shared with my children many times over the years. When they would try to convince me that a certain video game is no big deal because they know it’s not real. Using the argument:  “Mom! It’s not like I’m going to go out and shoot people just because I play a video game!”  The same argument has been applied to TV and movies with their lack of morality. Or to certain songs and their glorification of godless living.  And what I would try to make them understand is that although a certain game, movie or song itself may not directly cause you to live a certain way, the continued barrage of these things into your mind will desensitize you to the very real evil in the world. You will become more and more indifferent to the consequences of sinful living. You will be less and less likely to feel sadness over evil or regret over immoral choices. The clear boundaries you should have between what you will do and what you won’t do will become blurred. You will find it difficult to stand for what’s right because you won’t even be sure what that is. 

Paul explains desensitization to the believers in Ephesus.  He explains to them exactly what will happen if they don’t set themselves apart. The unbelievers around them (and around us) don’t understand. They are separated from God because their hearts have been hardened. They have “lost all sensitivity” and have decided to live a life full of pleasure, whatever the cost. They have become desensitized. 

What’s really scary is that when people continually choose to ignore God and not to give him the glory he is due, he will eventually let them have their filth. In Romans 1, the Bible says that God will give us over in the sinful desires of our hearts. (v. 24). He will give us over to our shameful lusts. (v. 26). He will give us over to a depraved mind. (v. 28). We’ll get exactly what we think we want but we’ll lose the only thing that matters. A relationship with our Creator and an eternity in heaven.  And in case we’re quick to think we’re o.k. because we don’t actually do these things, this warning also applies to us if we approve of them. (v. 32). If we think they’re “no big deal”.

As the voices of evil become louder and louder, it is of utmost importance that we keep our ears tuned to God. Be diligent in prayer. Faithfully read our Bible. And cautiously discern the things we choose to allow into our hearts and minds. Once we become desensitized to the evil around us, we have allowed our hearts to be hardened and God may be ready to let us have the junk we think we want. 

Bucket List

Recently I found myself once again overcome by familiar feelings of inadequacy. When this happens – I am instantly overwhelmed. As I go over the list of reasons why I’m not “enough”, I feel as though I want to just curl up in a ball and do nothing because I’ll never be able to do it all, anyway. I know that these feelings are being delivered to me courtesy of the devil because whether I’m “enough” or not doesn’t matter to God. I am redeemed by the blood of Jesus no matter how far short I fall in life. (Can I get an “Amen!”?) And even though this fact is more than enough reason to praise God and get on with life, somehow I don’t always get there right away.

In my mind I play over my shortcomings…

  • I don’t spend enough time with my husband.
  • I don’t spend enough time with my kids.
  • I don’t pray enough.
  • I don’t cook enough or plan enough family dinners.
  • We don’t go to church enough.
  • I don’t volunteer my time or give enough money.
  • I don’t make enough money.
  • I don’t exercise enough.
  • My house isn’t clean enough.
  • I don’t spend time with friends or pamper myself (Which is something I tell myself I can do once I get the rest of the stuff on this list right.)

This is the shortlist — but when it’s listed out it feels like a punch in the stomach.  How can I ever do all of these things well enough? Then I get to thinking. Exactly where did I come up with this list and how did I determine whether or not I was doing any of it “well enough”? The answer is pretty obvious — comparisons! I think women are especially prone to this. We see twenty different women that each do one thing amazingly well and suddenly we make it our mission to become those twenty women all wrapped up in one!

We see one woman with a beautifully decorated and spotlessly clean home that could be featured in a Better Homes & Garden magazine and suddenly our house feels like a shabby shack. We meet another woman that regularly plans romantic getaways with her husband and suddenly we feel sadly detached from our own spouse. We meet a mom that has “Bible reading night” with her children and suddenly we feel like we’re raising little heathens. We meet another mom that makes amazing home cooked meals served around the dining room table every night and suddenly we feel like the worst mom ever. Do you see the pattern? I do… and when I look at it a very ugly word creeps into my sight line. Envy.

In order for me to get to feeling the inadequacy I feel in comparison to all of these super human women (who, by the way, feel the same way I do about some areas in their own life) I have to have forgotten about how tremendously blessed I am in my own life. My not always clean enough shabby shack is cozy and “lived in”. I may not have the chance to plan romantic getaways with my husband, but I do get to snuggle up to him every night — and he loves me despite all of my shortcomings. I may not read the Bible to my kids as much as I should, but they hear stories about how awesome God is all the time and every once in a while they do or say something that solidifies the fact that they love Jesus! We may not spend many nights around the dinner table together, but we often find ourselves lounging around the not-so-tidy living room together laughing about nothing in particular.

I’m not diminishing the importance of all of the things on my list. They are all good things. But maybe I need to change the way I measure the outcomes. Maybe I need to re-frame my approach to them. Instead of this being the list of things I have to do it can be the list of things I get to experience. Maybe instead calling it my “to-do list” I need to call it my “bucket list” and to remember that if it didn’t all go as planned today, I can try again tomorrow.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23