Take heart, I have ovecome the world

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.
2 Corinthians 1:8-9

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
   and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
   and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
   the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah 43:1-3

There have been many times in my life I have felt burdened beyond my strength. When I look back at those experiences, I now see they happened to make me turn to God and rely solely on Him. However, in the midst of a trial, when I feel like I can’t go on, it’s hard to remember there is a greater purpose for the difficulty I face. I become so focus on my own lack of strength, my own inability to go on, and my own despair I am unable to see God’s glory and sovereignty in the midst of the trial. Instead of turning to Him, I become completely focused on myself.

Having gone through many trials in my life, I know the best thing I can do is to humbly turn to God. From both my experiences and from the Word, I know trials come to force me to do just that. In hindsight, it’s easy to see and understand this, but when trials come and I become focused on myself instead of on God, it’s difficult to remember. Fortunately for me, even when trials result in pride instead of reliance on God, He is always with me. He does not allow the river to overwhelm me or the fire to burn or consume me.

God is always by my side. He is always my Lord and Savior. Despite my pride, he never turns away. When I finally realize focusing on myself does not work and that I need to rely on Him to get through the trial, He is there waiting for me. He is always waits patiently no matter how prideful and self-focused I become.  I never make it through trials on my own. Getting discouraged, focusing on myself, and all the other natural, prideful responses I have to difficulties never helps. On my own, the situation would be hopeless, but thankfully Christ has already overcome the world. I can’t overcome trials, fight discouragement, or remain humble in my own strength, but God can and He does.

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.
But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

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Follow Me

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”  At once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

       Matthew 4:18-22

 

It always amazes me, no matter how many times I read this story, that Jesus’ disciples drop everything and leave their lives behind forever. Jesus says “follow me” and they do. No questions about where they are going or what they’re going to do when they get there. They just do it.

I want to live my life the way they do. I want to have such a complete trust in God that I will go and do whatever He wants.

When I don’t have all the answers

When I don’t know where I am going

When I don’t know what I’ll do when I get there

When I don’t even know how I’ll get there.

I want to be so devoted it’s only natural I would follow Jesus wherever he leads.

But it’s hard and it’s scary and most of the time I don’t trust that God has everything under control. When I don’t have every detail planned out or when something seems impossible, I question whether I am on the right path. I start to doubt decisions I’ve made and become uncertain of where God is leading.

It’s easy to trust God when things are easy and clear and safe, but when they get hard and uncertain and risky it becomes a lot more difficult.  Instead of dropping everything to follow God, I decide it’s best to wait. Instead of putting more trust in God, I pull away.

I pray for God to reveal His will to me, but the problem isn’t that I don’t know His will. The problem’s that I want an easy and simple answer. He already revealed His will and now He wants me to trust and follow Him. He wants me to believe in His plan even when it’s not easy or completely clear.

 But like I said it’s hard, especially when I focus on knowing what God has in store for my future instead of on just knowing Him. When I focus more on my life than on my relationship with God I end up with only fear and doubt. Those are the times I chose not to follow, when I decide to wait when I should go. However, when I focus on God trust and devotion grow from my desire to know Him. Then I act like His disciples did. When He calls I follow.