Friday, February 25, 2011

I Love Life's Transitions (NOT)

Have you ever had this happen to you? You are just getting settled into a routine, getting yourself organized, figuring this thing called life out, when out of the blue, BAM! (copyright Emeril) something changes. Maybe its something as common as a fender bender; you know someone hits you from behind as you turn into Starbucks for a Grande Cinnamon Dolce Latte, in case you wanted to buy me one, and your day is shot. (No coffee/Starbucks/Expresso pun intended)

It can be something that simple, and annoying, or it can be some of the big stuff. You know what I mean, we are surrounded by it. People lose their jobs with no warning, health problems set back your dreams, hopes and finances. There has been an increase of young males dying early because of hypertension, caused by high blood pressure... Pressure, it is all around us. Transitions always bring pressure.

Paul says in II Corinthians that the "light afflictions come to bring in our lives a greater weight of glory". Could it be that the pressure we are feeling today, the inconveniences we are tolerating are purposefully and strategically designed to transition us to a greater level of "glory", the new carrier we have been too scared to pursue before, the ministry we have been too "successful" to start? Could it be that the transitions we are in are not just an accident, but have been designed to bring God's purpose and plan into our lives?

I think this is exactly the case. The Bible says that if you love God, everything works together for your good. That everything means everything - the job loss, the helpless feeling you have right now, the fender-bender, the spilled cup of coffee on your new shirt, the seemingly mundane irritations of life - all things work together for our good.

I know in my life that is exactly how it has been. When I was the most irritated, and the most troubled by an irritation or situation, God was working in the background for a greater and eternal weight of glory, he was working out my purpose. It was a set back that ultimately brought Deidre and I to Hot Springs. Had it not been for a job lay-off I would not have been desperate enough to ask God what He had in mind for us. I had already began to devise a plan, but God had something different in mind, and the pressure got my attention.

I challenge you today, when the irritations come, and they will, stop cursing them and hating them (at least for a moment) and look around at what is happening. Maybe, just maybe, God is applying pressure so He can take you closer to fulfilling your purpose. Take a minute right now to ask God what He is up to in your life...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rise or Resist?

Growing up, I spent a lot of time around the ocean. I was born and raised on Chincoteague, VA, a small island just south of the Maryland line, on the Eastern Shore of VA. There I learned many of the basics of water safety, how to handle a boat, and probably the most important information of all, how to negotiate a big wave! When I was a freshman in high school my parents moved us to South Florida, again near the beach. There I learned and honed my skill of avoiding being thrown about like a beach ball by the powerful force of the ocean.

"The Key?" you ask... well that is a great question, and I am glad you brought it up, because I am very anxious to tell you. For some this key will be very intuitive, for others it will be life changing. But before I tell you this key, I need you to understand it is very, very powerful. This key, which I am going to share with you in just a moment, holds power, not just in the ocean, but in life. OK, here goes, the key is... very important, don't for get it. This power, important, life changing key is... Don't Resist It!

WOW, were you waiting for something a little more theological, more King James Versionish maybe? Sorry, that's it, no deep hermeneutical argument, just stop resisting. You see, in the ocean when a wave comes at you and you stand firm, squared off at this powerful force of the ocean, it will win, every time. It will knock you down, throw you about and get sand in your shorts. BUT, if you will turn your body sideways 90 degrees, and give yourself a little hop, you will cut through and rise above the wave that once knocked you down.

The same is true in life, you can choose to either rise or resist. To rise you need to lean into it, become more agile, and give yourself a little hop. To resist will cause you to be thrown down by life everytime, because, as the BORG say in Star Trek, "Resistance is Futile".

There is an old saying that preachers and leaders like to make to motivate people, "When the water rises, all the boats float". Oh how I wish that were true. The problem is, I have found that with boats, as with people, there are two tings that keep that from happening.

Number 1 - They are tied too tightly to the dock. I found out at a young age in VA that you have to leave slack in the line when you tie up a boat or the tide will damage it as it rises and falls. When it drops, the boat can have the cleats pulled too tightly and can rip them off, or cause the boat's side to be damaged by the dock. When the tide comes back in, because it always does, if you are tied too tightly, it will drag the boat under.

Some people need to let go of the dock. If you are holding too tightly to the past, the traditions, the pain, the hurt, or maybe even the successes, it may be time to let out some rope. I am not saying to let go all together, because then you will just float away. I am saying don't hold those things so tightly to you chest. Leave a little room for the tides to rise and fall.

Number 2 - They have holes in their boats. If you ever get to Saint Lucie County, Florida, drive down Indian River Drive. It is a breathtaking view of the Indian River, the barrier islands, and the Atlantic Ocean just beyond. But it is also littered with the shells of old boats. Boats that failed to give enough rope to rise with the tide, and boats that, for whatever reason, leaked. When the water came back in, instead of the boat rising, it filled up.

Maybe the reason you have been resisting change is because the last time change came you were damaged, and you had a breach in your hull. I want to challenge you to take some time, hit the dry dock. Put your life on hold for a season, and patch the holes. I know, that means you will have to actually deal with some issues that you have been burying, but it will also mean you can finally begin to rise on top of the waves instead of constantly being beaten by them. So call the Pastor, get some counseling, confront the pain, overcome the fear, ask for forgiveness, accept Christ as your Savior and follow Him, whatever the hole is in your life, take some time to repair it...NOW! Because one thing I do know, the tide is getting ready to come back in again, and you can either rise to the top and see sights you have never been able to see while sitting on the ocean floor, or you can continue to resist and allow the waves of life to keep beating you further down.

So, will you rise or will you resist? Will you let go of some of the rope holding you to the past? Will you take the time necessary to repair you leaks, your marriage, your relationship with your kids, your relationship with Jesus? Or will you continue to live in denial and keep doing it your own way?

In the words of Joshua, "Choose you this day who you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord". The choice if all yours, the ball's in your court, and the tide is on it's way back in...rise above it today!