not having it all together, nor having all the answers

It is good to live in grace and have an assurance that somehow all is well in God’s will, even though that will has yet to take hold on earth as it has in heaven.

I for one often find myself struggling over something. Usually it is something I get over less than a day (as opposed to the past when it could stretch into days- knock on wood). Sometimes it seems in life I’m going up a normal hill which is more like a sand dune. You’re gaining little ground, but getting a good workout in the process. Or this or that or something else is wrong, one of the many challenges of life which can hit us on nearly every side. Challenges which come both from being a human who doesn’t have it all together and living in a world in which problems are a part of daily life.

I know there are formidable obstacles. I seem wired to look at and go on to the next challenge, even as I gladly take some deep breaths and enjoy in between.

I am glad we can turn to the Lord who can work even in the hardest places for good, beginning with myself, my heart played out in attitudes and actions. Being overwhelmed with life and all the challenges that come our way can have its advantage for sure. Then we ought to look to the Lord all the more and find our consolation and hope in him. That means I’m all the more in scripture as well as wanting to be in the fellowship or communion of God’s people in Christ. And wanting to be a witness to the world of the difference that makes.

It is wonderful and best to have lived by grace in a straightforward Daniel-like kind of way, to show others that in and through God such a life of integrity and wisdom is possible. We also need those who having failed along the way or been held in one stronghold or another to have overcome so that their lives tell the story especially to those around them everyday, of God’s saving, sustaining grace in Jesus. I am more in company with the latter. All of us together pointing to the one Savior for us and for the world, our Lord Jesus.

overcoming

 

Oftentimes it seems like we see overcoming in general terms, after all we in Jesus are in a struggle against spiritual forces arrayed against us. And that is true. This is manifested in all kinds of ways, sometimes quite overt as in “in your face,” but more often than not, subtle.

However there are those times when it is quite specific, and chronic. For some, it can be in terms of some addiction as we call it, I think now not so much of substance abuse with drugs or alcohol. I am thinking of moral issues such as pornography, which is a rampant problem to one degree or another with many. For me a big issue over the years has been anxiety. I have not allowed that to alter what I had to do, and would simply go on with prayer and do it. With great prayer support from my wife, by the way.

Things can come to a head for a reason. God’s hand may be in that, to bring us to a point of resolution. In other words, in answer to prayer, there can be a breakthrough in our lives, getting past what once had plagued us, and even bound us. Usually that doesn’t come in an instant after prayer, but over time, though not a terribly long time. I speak from some experience, having seen breakthroughs in my own life, in a number of ways.

Now I face one of my last enemies, a giant of sorts, which has diminished to some extent. I can imagine going through the rest of my life the way it is now. Maybe one could chalk it down simply to a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, used by the Lord to keep me humble and cast on his grace, that I might know his strength in my weakness. But actually I don’t think I need to be told that I’m weak and completely dependent on Christ. But that’s me speaking.

I want to see this enemy in answer to prayer, cast out, and vanquished, as a thing of the past. I want to see this stronghold dismantled, indeed destroyed. It is specific in nature, related to the anxiety and fear which actually are quite diminished in my life I trust, as in comparison with the past.

And so I will take a stand by faith. In prayer. And asking prayer from our pastors. I want to see the walls come tumbling down on this one, even as they have in a number of issues, one quite recently.

It is a warfare we in Jesus are in, a spiritual battle together, helping each other in prayers and with whatever God may give us, together for the world.

habits

Life consists of habits, some good, and some not so good, maybe some downright bad and unhelpful. As we look at the change in our calendars about to take place, the move into a new year, as well as looking back on the last year, it might be good to reflect for a moment on habits we have picked up, or perhaps have long lived out.

Instead of simply naming the habits and then categorizing, or perhaps along with that as a part of it, we need to consider the underlying motivation behind them. What may appear at first glance as detrimental and not good, may actually have an understandable and perhaps even good motivation behind it. Love, but a love that is grounded in God’s revelation in Jesus found in scripture, is what is needed for any motivation to be good. Recently I came to see that something I had been doing which I questioned, really in significant measure I’m supposing is motivated by the desire to live in as well as live out that love.

Some habits need to be dispensed of immediately, but oftentimes they are the kind of things which have a grip on us, sometimes even a stronghold, or we might say, stranglehold on us. Perhaps it’s an addiction, for some it may be pornography, for others alcohol or drugs. Maybe in other cases it is lesser problems which nevertheless take one away from their family. In the former, one may need special professional counseling, and plenty of prayer from trusted, spiritual friends. In the latter we’ll need prayer as well. And we all need accountability with each other.

I think ordinarily speaking, referring to habits which often are more subtle, maybe a trail we tend to take when difficulties or trials come, or perhaps curbing a habit which in itself is alright, perhaps even good in its place, but can become not good when it takes over our life, it is wiser to think about new habits we can work at getting into our psyche and practice, rather than simply dispensing of an old habit we know is unhelpful.

For me an indispensable habit is the recitation of the Lord’s/our Father prayer. And along with that I will repeat the Jesus Creed. I know if you have read this blog, that this is getting to be a broken record. But I think simple recitation over and over can help center us on what matters. What is needed is heart change which then spills over into one’s life and out from that into the world.

One of my worst habits is down talking myself. I’ll do that out loud in front of my wife who promptly corrects me and wisely won’t tolerate it. Nevertheless it has become, more precisely has been for sometime a pesky habit which seems to have its roots well entrenched in me, so that its fruit is evident when I am tired and life is trying. Especially when I am reflecting on how I’ve let others down, whether those thoughts at the time are really fair or not. And so this coming year I want the Lord’s help to work on that. To learn to rejoice in the Lord in everything, and all that goes along with and is related to that. Perhaps a good steeping in a book like Philippians will be in good order in the coming year for me.

What might you share here in regard to habits? What has helped you in this regard?