Tuesday, after a long meeting, at the end of a particularly challenging day, I blurted out bitter words about how hard life has been for the last 10 years. Garry, a friend who heard me say it, gently reminded me that it has not all been dark. And, he is right. I was only seeing part of the reality. I was hit hard by the loss of my parents and my wife. Health issues have dogged me. I have had some disappointments in other areas. But, there are wonderful gifts as well. There is the joy of knowing the hope of Jesus. There are the numerous friends that walk with me. There is a holy calling to serve God’s people in pastoral ministry that is my privilege. That night, my fatigue, the real problems that need a solution, my personal grief, and my sense of loss became a poisonous state of mind, faithless and dark, that I call stinkin’ thinkin’.
I know a basic principle that is true.
Right thinking always precedes right living.
Jesus said it simply – “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6: 43, 45-46, NIV) If we want to change our life, we must change our thoughts.
Transformation does not start with our situation and/or circumstances; it starts inside of us.
We are prone to create a mythical kind of life in our mind where things are aligned to around what we think will give us the most happiness. “Jerry, what’s wrong with that? Isn’t that being visionary?” Not really, it’s called dreaming! In that dream world, everyone cooperates with our agenda, we have all the money we think we need, our boss is always kind and understanding, our spouse is completely loving all of the time, every day is sunny. Now you are smiling because you see how unreal that is. But, if we invest time comparing our reality with the myth, the likely outcome is bitterness.
There is a better way. It matches faith in God’s constant love and Presence with our need and waits on Him to reveal His purposes. If we desire to live a godly life, to remain steady, we need to serve the real God, not the imaginary god of our own creation.
Who is He?
He is the Almighty; yes, the Lord of all. Start there. Humbly present yourself to Him, as you are.
He is Love. It does seem like He is loving sometimes. He can appear cruel to us, but the Word teaches us that He acts from love towards us.
He is Actively Present. Yes, He is at work in you and in the world around you, though sometimes to our eyes that is not apparent.
His purposes will win out for us, and for this world.
Does all that mean we should never have a day like I had on Tuesday, when the losses stacked up, the challenges turned into mountains? If we believe that God should magically keep us from difficulty, that He should sweep all the tough stuff out of our way, a kind of stinkin’ thinkin’ will take over and destroy our faith. If we look for Him, wait on Him, trust Him, and love Him – he will change us; giving us peace, equipping us with wisdom, leading us through the tough stuff.
Today, if you are in a rough place, go to these amazing facts about the goodness of the Lord. If you are a regular reader, you will know them for they are found in my favorite letter in the Bible, Paul’s words in Ephesians. It is a letter that overflows with truth about God, grace, and His love. Don’t go to these words looking for a ‘quick fix’ in your situation. Rather let them change your mind today.
“I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21, NIV)
CoffeeBreak will be back on March 5, the good Lord willing!
I’ll be taking some time for renewal. Thank you for reading along.