I had to smile when I read what Jason Kidd said after the Dallas Mavericks drafted him years ago: “We’re going to turn this team around 360 degrees!”
Life often feels like that, doesn’t it? A lot of effort with nothing gained.
At times, the Bible seems like a history book in which God makes and fulfills promises to the ancients, but the words somehow lack immediacy to our struggling lives. And yet, it’s funny how the anxieties that overwhelm our lives seem identical to those that biblical people struggled against.
Even though Scripture provides assurance of God’s promises, assurance doesn’t negate the stressful circumstances that force us to trust God.
Truth doesn’t make the hard parts of life go away. We still have to trust God with that truth.
I’ve noticed an unsettling habit in my life. Whenever I find myself with a free moment, I feel compelled to fill it with something productive.
Because I hate to waste time, I fill it with activity and justify it as productivity. But I’m learning that constant movement doesn’t represent efficiency.
It could, moreover, represent just the opposite.
As with every other part of the human experience, Jesus remains our model of efficiency. But His life—even before the cross—was no easy walk:
- The demands on Him were constant.
- The needs He faced were overwhelming.
- The expectations He encountered were unrealistic.
No person was ever more qualified to do it all, and yet Jesus took life in the fast lane in stride.
What was His secret?
Tough circumstances of life always change our minds about God.
They either tempt us to doubt what He’s promised, or they draw us closer to Him in faith. But we never stay the same.
God’s plan for your life is revealed and tested in times of struggle.
If you’re struggling today, don’t miss the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of God’s plan for you.
Joseph shows you how.
Most people live for dreams. It’s a quest, really.
Clinging to ideals of how life could and “should” be, they chase those dreams like a carrot on a stick. Always within reach, but never gotten.
I guess we’re all wired to pursue the ideal. The world calls it following “your heart,” and we Christians refer to it as “the will of God.”
But in truth, we generally settle for nothing less than our version of how life ought to be.
Any search for the ideal needs only to look at the Garden of Eden to see the futility of that pursuit.
God points us a different direction.
God will lead you places you would never choose. Unwanted places.
Because the Lord is much greater than you and I can imagine, it makes sense that He wants for us more than we ever dreamed.
God wants you to trust Him, and you’d like to do so. He wants you to glorify Him, to know Him, and so do you. But really, you often want to trust God only when you understand Him.
Too often, that desire to know the Lord slices His list of attributes in half.
When you and I settle for anything less than all of God, we also settle for less than all we can become.
My dad used to have an old pickup truck I would borrow for odd jobs.
It wasn’t a good-looking truck, but it was faithful. The only glitch in the deal was the gas gauge. It read “almost empty” no matter how much gas you had.
If you had just filled up, it read “almost empty.” If you had half a tank, it read “almost empty.” The gauge only worked when you were out of gas! It would immediately move from “almost empty” to “empty.” I remember once I coasted into a gas station on fumes and a prayer.
I have found one thing in life that cuts the cable from the gas tank to the gas gauge quicker than anything else.
- It drains your relationships with people and dries up your walk with God.
- It blurs your vision, exaggerates your emotions, and takes a healthy, balanced perspective of life and twists it of proportion.
I’m talking about the pervasive and infectious attitude of bitterness.
You can be riding along with a full tank, but bitterness will show you a gauge “almost empty.”
It’s always great when God replaces something painful with something wonderful. Or when He provides for a need in a context of desperation.
But what about when God takes away something we enjoy—or even something we need? Or when He allows something bad to invade something good?
Can we then say what Job said?
Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised. —Job 1:21
During the times when God takes something away from you, it’s easy to feel duped, as if God was some kind of pusher, giving free samples and then removing them after the cravings have their hooks in your heart.
The Lord’s generosity can be misunderstood as cruelty.
Rather than praise God for the time we enjoyed His blessings—we tend to resent His sovereign prerogative to confiscate them.
Here’s some perspective that can help when God takes something away from you that was a blessing.
Growing up, I often felt ripped-off at Christmas.
Because my birthday is December 15, I often heard: “Wayne, this is your birthday-Christmas gift.”
I thought, Hey, gee, thanks.
I wanted to tell the person whose birthday was in August, “Yeah, and here’s your birthday-Christmas gift too.” (Those of you with December birthdays understand.)
As a kid, I also hated getting clothes for Christmas (particularly underwear). Some people just don’t know how to give age-appropriate gifts to kids.
When I read the Christmas story, it seems the three Wise Men didn’t have much experience shopping for children either.
Podcast: Play in new window
Herod the Great is often remembered for the story that never appears on Christmas cards.
Hearing from the Magi that the “king of the Jews” was born in Bethlehem, the paranoid Herod sent and slew all the male boys under two years old in the town—a cryptic fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:15.
Of course, Jesus’ family got word of the impending threat and escaped by night to sojourn in Egypt until Herod’s death (Matthew 2:13-18).
Whenever I visit the area of the Herodium, I can’t help but think of the historical irony that Herod tried to kill Jesus—but failed. Instead, Herod himself died and was buried in the Herodium overlooking the very city the Messiah was born (Micah 5:2).
This offers a lesson of great encouragement in God’s sovereignty.
The first Christmas looked like a coincidence.
From a human perspective, politics set the agenda: Caesar took a census.
Period. End of story.
But from the divine viewpoint? God orchestrated ordinary events for extraordinary purposes.
The same is true today. He uses the power of coincidence in your life as well.