“Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. ”
Paul’s letter to the Philippian Church (2:14-16)
Waking Up In Process
This year I turned 40. 4-0. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around my age. It seems that I’ve come a long way so far in this life. And we have a lot. Four children. 18 years of marriage and life with the same woman. Two vehicles that still work, and all of us are functioning and healthy (for the most part still).
This morning I woke up startled though. Something today woke me up and I began to think about something that most of us in America take for granted. The word that woke me up this morning was “Benefits”.
A deep insecurity arises within my heart when I think about the future for my family, what I’m leaving my kids financially, and how we are going to make it through another year. For years our family has scrapped by, just having enough to put food on the table and gas in our car at times. We have not really had much excess. We don’t often get to go on elaborate vacations and weekend excursions.
There is not a ton of money in our bank account waiting for a rainy day… we just don’t have that kind of cash flow. We both work hard, but it seems at times that life is a constant battle of three steps forward and two steps backward.
At times I read posts on Facebook or listen to people who have good paying jobs and plenty of money in the bank say that “those people who have nothing should just go out and get a job”. But that’s not a fair assessment of where a lot of people are in life. Many of us are scraping by trying to get ahead, with little or no money saved up for retirement or set aside in a rainy day fund. We have jobs, but we also have lives where we struggle to get by. The cost of living continues to rise leaving little room for extra money to be set aside. And trading time and relationship with our children just to have more money seems a bit anti- everything we believe in.
We are not all in control of the circumstantial ebb and flow of the lives we live and many of us have to simply roll with the punches and ride the waves that life brings us. The principles are there for us to strive for, but life is just hard sometimes and there is no explanation for it. That being said, some is better than none, hard work for little is better than no work for nothing, a little set aside every month is better than nothing at all.
The New Year
With the dawn of a new year and all of this in mind, I want to challenge you to not panic if you find yourself where I am today. Just because a lot of time and life has passed you by doesn’t mean that there isn’t still hope for you.
This morning I read in the book of Acts a message by a man in the waning years of his life. His name was Stephen and he was martyred immediately after he gave the message I read. In his story, he told of Moses, the leader of the Hebrew people during the time of their slavery and then release from Egypt.
Moses was 40 when God woke him up and opened his eyes to the reality of his people’s slavery. He was 80 when he came back to deliver them.
Let that sink in for a moment.
- It took God 40 years to get Moses’ attention before his eyes were opened enough to catch a glimpse of the vision God was forming in his heart.
- It took him another 40 years to form Moses into the man he needed to become to complete the vision that God had formed in his heart.
Reading this story this morning gave me a few thoughts that I want to share with you today. Perhaps this will help you begin to think through who you need to become and what you need to do in the year ahead.
- Trust the Process. I know it feels like time is just slipping away. And you are right, time is ticking. But you are in a process of growth and maturation. You need to relax for a minute and get your bearings. Responding to your circumstances in panic is NOT the answer. Recognize that God has you right where He wants you, and He will take care of you, your family, and your legacy.
- Begin to Process. Awareness is the first step in moving forward with your life. Awareness of where you are is a reality check. Awareness of where you are going is the result of intentionally thinking through how you plan to move from your present reality to the one you want to create.
- Believe in the Process. You can have confidence that the “journey is the destination”. You are not going to “arrive” someday with all of life figured out. Your pain, your tragedy, your suffering, your losses and your victories have all served to form your soul into what it is today. Knowing that, you can believe in the process of growth that God has you in.
What Will You Do?
The New Year is upon us. There is no turning back. You are where you are and who you are because of what you have chosen for yourself. And I am too. We can choose differently if we want to.
Set some goals this year. Make that resolution if necessary. Look forward. Give yourself permission to dream again. Don’t look around at all that others have. Don’t be envious of what you don’t have. Position yourself beside Jesus this year. Allow Him to lead your heart, to guide your decisions, and to help you solve the problems you’ve created for yourself.
I dare you to move.
A great book that might help you get moving in the right direction is “Start” by Jon Acuff. Jon offers some practical advice and encouragement on how to move forward in spite of setbacks and other circumstances that may have kept you stuck. Click on the link below to order a copy.