Stronger On My Knees

Stronger on My Knees

God brings us things sometimes that drive us to our knees.

It’s tough being the type of Christian that God wants me to be.  I don’t know why I am surprised at this.  Jesus said that the way to follow Him was narrow and that many would not be able to make it.  He said that I would have to deny myself and take up my cross to follow Him.  Being a disciple of Christ is so much more than being baptized or being a church member or simply saying the sinner’s prayer.  Being a disciple of Christ is hard work. 

I am convinced that there are two types of Christians:  the ones who know just enough to be saved and the ones who have an earnest desire to be remade into the image of Christ.  The first group has accepted Jesus and then goes forward with their life trying to do the best they can to live like it.  The second group realizes that they can’t be like Christ without some radical remaking taking place. 

Therein lies the difficulty.  When Jimmy said that God brings us things sometimes that drive us to our knees, it resonated with me this week.  I once heard a preacher say that you are either in a storm, coming out of a storm or heading into a storm.  Right now I am in the midst of a storm that has put holes in my jeans and calluses on my knees.  This time, however, I am not despairing.

This time, there is a change in me.  I know that my present storm is necessary, even good for me.  This storm is there because God is using it to reshape me, yet again.  This storm is driving me to my knees because I have exhausted every option in my feeble mind.  I know that all I can do is fall down before my Creator and raise my hands and wait for His voice. 

Would I rather be standing on my own two feet?  Absolutely!  But I also know that I am most able to be shaped by God’s hand when I kneel and submit at His feet.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I urge you to allow God to shape you into the image of Jesus.  Allow the circumstances that drive you to your knees to be the catalyst that drives you closer to God.  Allow His gentle and to smooth away anything that is of you and replace it with all of Him.  Be willing to be remade and be ready for where He leads you.  When your time of struggle is finished and He picks you up from your knees, know that you will be a little bit closer to where He wants you to be.

Father, help me to recognize that you should be the first place I should turn to, not the last.  Help me to rely on you for my strength and my peace.  Give me direction through the storms that life throws at me and help me to be obedient to you when the rain blows away.  In Jesus Name, Amen. 

 

 

         

Life is More Than This!

So here is something that has been bouncing around in my head for the last couple weeks.  I am sure that you may have struggled with this as well.  The question I keep asking is this, “Why are anxiety and worry such a large part of our makeup?”  I guess more specifically, as believers, we have been commanded by Jesus and later on by Paul, not to worry about anything.  So if our hearts know this, why do our heads still worry?

This may turn out to be several postings, but I will give you the verses and passages that I have been led to that got me thinking.  The first is Matthew 6:25-34.  You will remember this as Jesus’ commands to not worry about your life and seek the kingdom of God.  Second is the passage in Philippians 4:6-9.  This is where Paul tells us “Don’t worry about anything.”  Keep in mind that at this point Paul is in prison in Rome awaiting his likely sentence of death.  Finally, the verse in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”  I know that isn’t a verse about worry, but we will get to that later.

Now I have been a believer for a long time.  I have a graduate degree from seminary.  I can probably turn to most of the passages in the Bible where it speaks on worry.  I understand that I am not to worry.  Furthermore, I have a pretty solid prayer life.  I communicate with the Father daily about anything and everything.  I know that once I leave my burdens at the Throne of God, He has things covered.  He doesn’t need my help carrying the load.  So why is it that as soon as I set the burden down, I feel compelled to pick it back up again? 

I think the answer lies in several parts.  The first part comes from the passage in Matthew 6:25-34.  I like to try and look at things from all angles and see what I may have been missing.  So as I read this passage for the umpteenth time, I got to thinking.  In verse 25 Jesus says, “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will wear.  Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?”  Now you must remember the last verse before this one.  Jesus has just explained that you cannot serve both God and money and that we must collect treasures in Heaven rather than here on earth. 

I believe that God did not make us to be worriers, but he did create us to be problem solvers and thinkers.  Think about it.  Your mind will naturally focus on a problem to be solved or a solution to be found or a way to make things better.  Look at history: this is how we got the wheel, the telephone, electricity, the iPod, toilet paper, plywood and the Lamborghini.  We are always trying to make things easier, better, faster, smaller, lighter, more fun and more efficient.  Where do you think that comes from?  It comes from your Creator.  He gave you a brain and wants you to use it.  But here is the kicker.  If we use this God given ability in the way it was intended, we come up with the things listed above; we focus on the right things.  However, if we neglect to use it in that way, we tend to find problems to fix that perhaps we should leave alone.  We tend to worry over things that God says he will provide for us if only we will let go of the burden.  We even create worries and burdens where none needed to be.  Do you see the parallel with verse 25?  Jesus says, isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?

For the most part, we are seeking just that.  We work to be able to afford to feed our appetites (whether our physical hunger or a host of other not so simple things.)  We strive to wrap our bodies in nice clothes and to wrap our nicely clothed bodies in nice cars and to park our nice cars in nice garages attached to nice houses.  Before long, we have a nice bunch of not so easy payments and the subsequent worry and anxiety to go with them. 

So I got to thinking, if I am created to be a thinker and a problem solver, how do I avoid the trap of worry?  And what should I be thinking about in the place of food and clothing? 

Perhaps the point Jesus was making is this:  of course you need clothes and food and shelter to survive, but let me provide those things for you and you go “worry” about things that matter.  Worry about the things you can actually control, the things that make you like Me and will last for eternity.

So what things can we control?  What things will make us more like Jesus?  I think the answer in this lies within us with a little introspection.  First, make a mental list of all the things you worry about on a daily basis.  For most of us it is paying the bills or something to do with money.  Maybe it is the health of a loved one.  Maybe it is the path your child is on.  For some it could be a marriage relationship.  Whatever it is, it is a load of heavy stones on your back.  Now imagine setting that weight down.  Don’t pick it back up!  I know it is tempting.  Now what will you do with that weight off your back? 

I think what Jesus was saying is that if we will give our burdens to Him it will free us up to seek the things that matter in the long run and will build up those treasures in eternity. I am talking about things like character, integrity, good morals, kindness and gentleness, every other fruit of the Spirit.  Any intangible that deep down you know you need to work on but just don’t have it in you because of the weight of worry that pushes you down.  These are the things that will make us more Christ-like and less world-like. 

Now prayerfully make a list of those things.  I know I need to work on giving up control of certain things.  I need to work on managing my time better to do the important stuff.  I need to trust God to provide for my needs.  Yours may be these or they could be a host of others.  The fact is each one is a sin.  It is not trusting in God, but trusting in ourselves.  I don’t know about you, but I could use some help with my burdens.

Work on your list of things you need to let go and things you need to seek.   The next post will look at “Leaving it All to the Lord.”  We will look at what happens when you can leave your burdens with God and how that will make you feel.