Rewind back to elementary and middle school p.e. classes. Two captains were chosen and told to pick classmates to be on their team, to play whatever sport was being played that day. Maybe you were always the first pick or maybe you were one of the last ones or like me maybe you fell somewhere in between. Regardless if you were first or last, you had to be on one team or the other.
Now fast forward back to the present. There are two teams in play. Which one are you on? Neutrality is not an option. Participation is required. Unlike the p.e. classes of our youth; however, we get to choose what team we want to be on. Failure to choose Team God places us on the losing team by default. As is expressed in Matthew 12:30 “he that is not With me is Against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth”.
So in the words of beloved comedian Bernie Mac who ya wit?
When we receive a Christmas gift, a sense of excitement/exhilaration courses through our body. Young, old, or somewhere in the middle we all like gifts. We rip the wrapping paper to get to the content or maybe we’re one of those people who carefully opens the pretty paper, with hopes of saving it as a keepsake. Either way, we anxiously anticipate what lies inside the package. After the gift is revealed and thanks is given to the giver, we use the gift either immediately or at some later point in time. What most of us don’t do is leave the gift unopened or open it and allow it to go unused.
However, there are gifts that our father(the heavenly one) has bestowed upon us that we fail to open or to make use of. Gifts such as salvation, love, peace, and joy. Our father loves us; let us show our gratitude and appreciation for His gifts.
Inspired by this quote I read this morning on a Pinterest article”if you’re not dead,God is not done”(WWW.NEWSPRING.CC). If you are able to read this, it means you are alive and that God still has both a purpose and a plan for your life. “Ain’t that good news!” Seek Him for your individualized purpose and plan.
Little kids are often great sharers, loaning or giving their friends and playmates small toys and games to play with. However, sometimes this generosity doesn’t last long. They get mad about something the recipient does or doesn’t do and demand their stuff back. Do you remember having this happen to you? Or maybe you were the one doing the take back. When I was a child we called it “Indian giving” (we weren’t politically correct back then).
We as adult believers are often guilty of this same type of giving. God has invited us to cast our anxieties/cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:7; Psalm 55:22). Burdened down, we pack up our problems, situations, worries and give them to Him. Then something happens: maybe we don’t like His answer to our problem or maybe He isn’t moving fast enough for us, so we take what we have given Him back. Only to be overwhelmed all over again.
Give it to Him and let Him keep it. No take backs!
A prospective runner doesn’t just jump right into a marathon, to do so would be setting him or herself up for failure. Instead, he/she trains and participates in smaller races first, in order to build up strength and endurance. Likewise, believers are tested through various trials and temptations, not as a means of elimination, but in order to strengthen our faith and build up our endurance. Additionally, these tests of faith develop spiritual maturity and wisdom in us. All necessities for us to finish our race. God didn’t blind side us with this. We are forewarned that we will have tribulation (John 16:33, Romans 5:3) and that trials will come (James 1:2, 1 Peter 4:12, 1 Peter 1:7). However, we receive encouragement in the fact that, before we even approach the finish line, we already know that we win, if we don’t quit beforehand. Our prize? The crown of life.
“…When I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me”. These words were spoken by Micah in chapter 7 verse 8. The key word that should stand out to us is when. Micah didn’t say if I fall or if I sit in darkness, he said when.
This prophet understood, as we need to understand, that being a follower of Christ does not exempt us from a fall. As we navigate the course of life there will be stumbles and falls. For some of us it might be a little fall. One that results in a small scratch that goes away in a couple of days. For others it might be a bigger fall; one that bruises our body making us sore for several weeks or months. Unfortunately, many of us will experience a tremendous fall that marks us with permanent scars. Regardless of the type of fall, we can rejoice in the fact that we can arise. Jesus has his hands stretched toward us at all times, ready and willing to help us back up.
Micah further acknowledged, that there will be times of darkness. While Christians are promised that the Son will shine in our lives, we are not promised that every day will be filled with sunshine. Dark days will come, some so dark that we can’t see our way, and question whether or not there is a way out. Take heart and realize as the prophet did, that the Lord is the light out of the darkness.
When we fall or when we find ourselves in the dark, let our response be: “when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me”.
The main ingredient for change is that there must first be a revelation that there is a need for change. A solution is preceded by a problem. If one doesn’t perceive a problem then one does not seek a solution.
Next, a desire for change is necessary. Even with a revelation of a need for change, a person who does not wish to change will not change, plain and simple. This desire needs to come from within because forced, shamed, or guilted change will not last.
Behind that desire to change, you need motivation in the mix. For some, simply wanting to be a better person is enough to motivate change. Other factors might be more extrinsic such as health(physical, spiritual, mental, and/or emotional) or salvaging a relationship. Motivation is a key ingredient because it is what will keep the person on track when the process of change becomes overwhelming.
The fourth ingredient is a plan. You know the saying “if you fail to plan, plan to fail”. What does change look like? What steps will be taken? are questions that need to be addressed.
The recipe completer is implementing the plan. Rolling the revelation, desire, motivation, and plan into action.
Knowing that you need change, having the desire to change, being motivated to change, and having a plan for change equates to nothing, without as Iyanla Vanzant would say, “doing the work”. “You’ve got to do the work”.
**I would be amiss if I failed to say, in this recipe for change, prayer is the binder.**
Just like jeans, careers are not one size fits all. Searching for that perfect fit can be a daunting task for both the jeans and the career. Sometimes you have to go to every store in the mall and try on every brand, looking for that pair that fits you just right. That pair that accentuates your curves, but doesn’t cut off your circulation. The Goldilocks of jeans-not too loose, not too tight, but just right. The process can be frustrating, but the excitement and satisfaction you feel when you finally find them and the confidence you exude when you wear them, is worthwhile. Likewise, when you find that “perfect fit” career, the joy that it brings far outweighs the pains of the search and discovery.
On a personal note, I am still in search of that pair of jeans, but I am turning a passion of mine that was just a hobby into a new career and it fits perfectly.