Tag Archive | character

Fight or Flight? (Part 2)

woman in field - yellow dress

This is the second part in a four-part series.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20

As I mentioned in Part 1, in those areas of my life in which I felt I had authority, I would suffer uncontrollable rage when there was a problem.

At the time, my only real area of authority was in the lives of my children. Unfortunately, they bore the brunt of my anger, specifically my oldest daughter. I expected my home to be the one place I was in control. What I said is what everyone did…except they didn’t.

Each task someone added to my already overloaded schedule, every poor decision that needed to result in a fix or consequence, and every request that came with an expectation that I would, of course, meet it was suffocating.

I also assumed a role of authority in my marriage even though it wasn’t mine to have. When we were in a public arena, I would unleash on my husband in a very controlled, but demeaning tone. My statements were short and accusatory.

Each time I felt I was losing control, my anger put me back in control. I knew this was wrong. I didn’t like how it felt during or after the confrontation. I would sometimes apologize later, but the words I spoke and my attitude had already left its mark.

“It (love) does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:5

My anger looked after my own comfort and convenience, it built on each mistake others made and it sought to prove that the issues were their fault, not mine.

But God in His mercy showed me how my anger would not bring about His righteousness in the situation or my heart.

While the truth is the actions and decisions of others are not my fault and not in my control, how I respond to them through my actions is my responsibility. I was not to exhibit control, but self-control. There is a difference. Control focuses on the actions of others while self-control focuses on my own actions in response to God’s love and righteousness.

God began to show me that using self-control was more about my response to love others in the midst of the problem than solving the problem itself.

As I slowed down and let myself listen to not only my daughter, but to God, I was able to see the work He wanted to do and was already doing in her life. As God took my eyes off myself and put them back on Himself, He was able to shift my perspective and understanding of who was really in control.

Ultimately, I was fighting God. I was fighting His truth that I was not in control and that I did not need to prove myself, my value, or my worth to anyone. I did not need to display my authority through anger, but I could serve others, myself, and God better with a spirit of love and self-control.

Something to Consider…

Do you think if others could just get it right, your life would be easier? Does your anger win out when you feel like you don’t have control or need to prove something? In what specific situations and with which specific people does this happen?

God is ultimately in control of everything. Jesus who has absolute authority and power did not strike back in anger, but let His love lead His way. He knows you make mistakes and loves you anyway. God’s righteous anger acknowledges that what is going on is not right and Jesus is the solution that makes things right. Through Jesus Christ, God has made a way for the problem of sin to be removed from our lives so we can be made right with Him. Every relationship problem has a solution when we have the desire and make the decision to love first.

How can a perspective shift change how you relate to and love others? How might self-control help you slow down and listen and in turn lead to a life of love?

Growing Pains

Light Streaming Through the Crown of a Tree

“God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do.” Ephesians 4:15 (The Message)

When my children were younger, I was constantly measuring their growth: height, weight, and abilities. Can she crawl, sit or walk? Does she respond to her name? Does she stack the blocks or just consider them a no-calorie snack? If their mental attributes along with their physical attributes don’t change, they aren’t growing in a complete manner.

Growth can be a challenge. All growth is the result of action and we must be diligent and intentional about the type of actions we take. Even a baby doesn’t just grow. If they are not receiving enough food, they won’t grow physically or mentally and if deprived of food for a long enough period will die.

Spiritual growth is the same. I’ve known a few people who really wanted to grow or at least thought they did. What it seems they may have wanted more was to continue doing what they had always done, but somehow manage to have peace and feel good about it. But nothing that grows stays the same. There will be changes. To ignore or deny the truth of what is needed for growth will only bring about death. The truth of Jesus is the source of eternal life.

Spiritual growth begins with knowing the truth about Jesus. You hear about Him, ask questions, learn some more and eventually have enough information to make a decision about what the truth of Jesus means to you and for you. If you are not seeking to know the truth, if you are not asking questions of people who know the truth, you will not grow in your understanding of who Jesus really is and you will have no reason to move forward in a relationship with Him. The problem with this is that everything else you consider about Him will be false. Just like eating protein will add muscle and eating sugar will add fat, growing in the knowledge and truth of Jesus will lead you to eternal life while ignoring or denying the truth of Jesus will lead to eternal separation from God. False teachings will lead to a false understanding which in turn will feed you with empty calories which will not sustain.

One of the growing pains involved with knowing the truth of Jesus is that we soon realize there are things we like, think or do that are not actually good for us. They seem good because they make us feel good and give us some enjoyment, at least for the moment. We don’t want to give it up because we don’t really want to believe it’s bad. Maybe it’s easier than changing. We operate out of our feelings rather than facts. We live for what seems good rather than what is truly good.

When my daughter was three years old, we could tell she wasn’t eating well. We pulled out our Dr. Spock baby book and did some research. We wanted to know answers and the truth about what might be causing this problem and what we could do about it. We learned too much sugar would ruin her appetite. Right away we knew the problem: apple juice. She loved apple juice! But the juice was hurting her, not helping her even though she enjoyed it. We promptly removed the apple juice from her diet and replaced it with water or milk only. For three days she cried! Each day was a little better until rather than cry over not getting apple juice, she asked for milk. Her eating improved and she chose milk over almost every other beverage for most of her childhood.

But those three days were painful. She wanted what she wanted and was willing to forsake the good thing for the enjoyable thing…until she realized the good thing was better.

Something to Consider…

Do you struggle believing the entire Bible is true? Does it contradict what you’ve been told is true? Is it difficult to understand how God’s ways are better than your ways, how they are truly the best way?

“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—” 2 Peter 2:2 (ESV)

Don’t settle for good enough. Don’t settle for empty satisfaction. God in his goodness sent His Son, Jesus Christ so we would know His grace and truth. You have the opportunity to choose the better thing. The growing pains of faith are real, but the truth of Jesus is better than any lie the world would have you believe. Seek to know and understand His truth and discover the real source of all you need to be able to change and grow up into all He created you to be!

Love Never Fails

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

Love ListWe’ve had some trouble in our family as of late, a bit of poking and prodding, provoking and pushing of buttons. We pass it on to our friends and others we come in contact with whether we realize it or not. They notice our attitude, look, tone and body language, making judgments on the state of our hearts and minds. They don’t mean to be judgmental; they just don’t know how close they want to get to us in our current state. And they have good reason to want to keep their distance. Our demeanor could rub off on them. They could feel the rough sting of our indifference toward them. We are so caught up in how we feel, it doesn’t really matter to us how we make others feel.

God is not indifferent. His heart longs for each child He has created to know His great love. Jesus came to make His love known in this world. He truly cares what we believe about His love for us and what face we put on our relationship with Him. How will His love through us rub off on those we are around? What does His love look like? What does His love convey? What does His love do?

My daughter’s favorite section of Scripture is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. I read this section and decided to take it apart. On one side of my paper I listed everything it said love is. On the other, everything love is not. I decided to type it out and hang it on our refrigerator at home where we could all see it.

Love: Love:
Is patient Does not envy
Is kind Does not boast
Rejoices in truth Is not proud
Always protects Does not dishonor others
Always trusts Is not self-seeking
Always hopes Is not easily angered
Always perseveres Keeps no record or wrongs
Never Fails Does not delight in evil

Everything we do will fall on one side or the other of love. God is love so everything love is, God does in love. And everything love is, we can also do in His love. I’ve already found myself recalling these two lists and recognizing when I’m on the wrong side – the “is not”, “does not”, don’t do side. God has helped me reconsider my attitude and bring it into alignment with who He is and what He does. In this practice, I’ve been more at peace with letting go of issues rather than holding them over the other person.

Something to Consider…

When you think of God’s character, which side of the list do you gravitate towards? Do you think God is patient and kind or do you think He is easily angered, keeping track of everything you’ve done wrong?

When you think of those closest to you, how do you see yourself in this list? Do you protect and rejoice with them or do you compare and think they deserve the bad things that happen?

God offers His love freely to those who come to Him through Jesus. Embrace His love, choose to rejoice in His truth and let His love change how you love today.

Pray for Your Leaders

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Romans 13:1 (NIV)

I admit, I have not prayed for my leaders as I should. I have not been diligent in seeking God’s guidance, understanding or wisdom for leaders in government offices, whether elected or appointed. I have not prayed regularly that those who do not know Jesus would not only come to know Him, but would seek to follow Him in their role of leading others. I have prayed my will, my understanding, and my desires but even as I seek God, there are things I do not understand and I sometimes desire things outside of God’s will.

I have prayed for my husband, my children and myself watching God answer prayer after prayer in His time, in His way. Maybe my distance from the political office keeps me from believing my prayers make a difference. Maybe I’m just so critical and judgmental I don’t really believe they can change. Two issues arise in my own life when this is my mindset:

1) I give myself authority to judge what is only meant for God to judge. I don’t really know their heart. While I may not agree with or understand their position, only God can judge the true motives and intentions of their heart.

2) I limit what I believe God can do. It is not by the power of my will in prayer, but the power of our God that hearts are changed and emboldened for Him.

Why should we pray?

It takes strength, boldness and courage to follow the Lord. In Joshua 1, Joshua knows the Lord. He has been faithful from the beginning. He is the new leader raised up to take the place of Moses after His death. God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. To remember and obey all that God has told Him through the Book of the Law. Even though Joshua already has a heart set on the Lord, He needs encouragement to stand firm. Times will get tough. People will want to go their own way. They may come up against his leadership out of fear or pride.

As we pray for our leaders to be strengthened and filled with courage and boldness for God, we are as filled as well. God meet us when we pray for others.

What should we pray?

There are many things we can pray based on the person and the specific needs of a country, community, business or organization but here are just a couple that cover some basic ideas.

1) Our leaders who do not know Jesus would come to know Him. If we are to follow God, it is best that those we submit to would be leading us His way. In surrendering to His authority, they understand the limits of their own authority.

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NIV)

2) Our leaders would create laws that are fair and impartial. They would not be swayed by public opinion just to be elected. They would not use circumstances as an excuse or justification for wrong doing. And they would not allow wealth to keep someone from a consequence nor would they use it as a reason to have a heavy hand and take more than due. When laws are applied fairly, mercy prevails.

“Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.” Leviticus 19:15 (NIV)

3) Our leaders would be peacemakers seeking to reconcile and move forward with the necessary business they are in office to carry out. One key role for leaders is conflict management. As peacemakers, they are to help settle disputes between parties that disagree, quarrel and fight. Leaders should be unifying not divisive with their words and actions.

“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18 (NIV)

God’s perfect plan does not always play out the way we think is fair or just, but in knowing Him, we can trust that He is faithful. He is and always will be in control.

Something to Consider…

What attitudes, criticisms, or judgments have you held against your leaders? How does your attitude add fuel to the fire or help others move forward in solutions? How do your criticisms and judgments move you closer to or further away from Gods heart.

In your own role as a leader, whether at work, volunteering or at home, what attitudes, criticisms and judgments do you find others hold against you? What would you want others to see in you as a leader?

As you seek to be resolved as a leader who you would willingly follow, ask God to not only help you bring glory and honor to Him, but that those you submit to would also seek His glory and honor in all they do.

Say What?

“Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it.” Mark  7:36 (NIV)

I was reading Mark 7 the other day as part of my morning devotions. Jesus taught on inner purity, what makes a person clean or unclean, and had cast out a demon from a girl. He then went on to heal many people and everyone was amazed.

So why would He want them to kept quiet? Why not tell everyone what He had done?

As I mulled over this awhile, I continued to read the rest of the verse. “But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it.” Mark 7:36b

Isn’t that just like us! He tells them not to talk and the first thing they do is go out and open their mouths.

Have you ever been caught in that situation? You are having a conversation with a friend, co-worker or maybe a spouse and you’ve been asked to not share the information with others. Often, it may not be asked out-right but you know based on the sensitive information that your confidentiality is implied and expected. Yet, you find yourself with someone who either doesn’t know the person or who, of course, you trust and you spill the beans.

Maybe you want others to know how concerned you are for your friend. Maybe you want someone to comfort you in your difficult relationship. Or maybe you live through the stories of others you know, good or bad. Even our prayer requests can reveal too much information about someone else.

There is another side to this scenario with Jesus. In Matthew 28, after Jesus has been crucified, died and buried, He is raised from the dead. His last words to His disciples before He ascends into heaven are “GO TELL!”

“(Jesus said) ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.’” Matthew 28:19-20a (NIV)

And here we are again, Jesus says tell and so many times we don’t. We are afraid of the consequences of speaking about Jesus. We hold so tight to the fear of rejection and the rules of the world that when given the opportunity to share Jesus, we fold. He opens the door and we close it.

Fortunately, the disciples did go and tell. That’s why we are here today seeking Jesus. If they had not told, what would be our state? I know what mine would be. It wasn’t that long ago that I was living like I didn’t know Jesus. But now I know, so I tell.

Something to Consider…

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?'” Romans 10:14

Do your words bring glory to God? Do they reveal the true nature of the One who saved you?

As you consider what you are willing to talk about and what you aren’t, ask God to show you how to bring your words into alignment with His will.

We don’t always understand why we should or shouldn’t talk, but obedience doesn’t call for understanding first and complying second. Let God lead your words.

Slow to Anger, Rich in Love

“But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15

I’ve been reading and re-reading this verse and others like it this past week. It doesn’t seem to be an overly complex verse and yet it is so deep, so loving and so profound. I am not always slow to anger. It is who I want to be, yet I am continually challenged.

Anger comes from a feeling of injury and is often accompanied by a desire to seek revenge. We have been wronged and we need to be right. Even in my “pet peeves”, I want the other person to feel my pain (irritation, frustration and inconvenience might be more accurate) because then they will understand and stop doing what bothers me. I want them to care about me.

When the Bible talks about God being slow to anger, it is often accompanied by other traits such as compassionate and gracious, abounding in love and faithfulness, and ready to forgive. God is slow to anger because of who He is, not because of who we are, what we’ve done or what we deserve. God is not slow to anger because He wants us to care about Him, but because He cares about us.

Of course, God does want us to care, He does long for us to love Him and be in relationship with Him; but who He is does not depend on who we are.

God is compassionate – He offers empathy and understanding. Jesus lived this life and understands every trial, temptation and trouble that comes our way.

God is gracious – He is kind, merciful and generous. God knows our weaknesses. Our situations, circumstances and choices change when we rely on Him rather than on ourselves; when we receive the Grace He so generously gives.

God is love – He abounds in love. God so loved that He gave His one and only Son. Love sums up everything He does and says. When we do what He does and say what He says, His love fills us to overflowing.

God is faithful– He is believable, trustworthy and reliable. He never leads us astray and His promises are always true. Being slow to anger does not mean there are no consequences for our actions. His warnings are as true as His promises.

God is ready to forgive – He waits for us to come to Him. He has provided a way that cannot be changed, challenged or revoked.

God is slow to anger – He is patient with each of us wanting none to perish. Out of His love and faithfulness, compassion and grace, He has made a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled to Him.

Something to Consider…

God could make us prove ourselves worthy, trying to climb the ladder to get to Him. He could be angry every time we miss the mark. Instead, He lets us stop, admit our failings, and meet Him at the foot of the cross.

As you consider God’s compassionate, gracious, loving, faithful and forgiving character, which of these traits do you want to understand and exhibit more in your own life? How can your patience with others grow and deepen your relationship with God?

Ask Him to show you how you can make a difference in the lives of those around you when you are slow to anger and rich in His love.

To Forgive AND Forget

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11

There are times when people say things and I wonder what they were thinking. Did I hear them correctly? Were they joking or serious? They have just offended me and they have no clue. And then, I wonder if they care. Maybe they’ll blow it off saying it’s just a joke and I’m too serious anyway.

The truth is sometimes people do say things and they have no idea that it bothers us. They don’t understand our past hurts, habits or experiences, and they don’t need to. They didn’t mean to upset us and yet we think they now owe us big time for hurting us so badly. We react quickly and forcefully; sometimes directly and other times behind their back.  We vent to someone else or to the world through social media.

It’s also true that sometimes people push our buttons on purpose. Do you know anyone who likes to argue? There is something about the battle of words that they relish. Proverbs is full of words that describe people who like to “stir up conflict”. Words such as perverse, harsh, greedy, mocker, and hot-tempered all describe people who intentionally cause conflict.

There are also descriptions of those who have the opposite demeanor. Words like love, gentle, patient, and wise all describe the person who guards his tongue while he settles and calms disputes. In Ephesians 4:32, Paul says to be kind and tender-hearted with each other. When we are patient, we can step back from the situation and be objective. Does this person know my past? Do they have any reason to hurt me? What did they really mean?

And then we are to forgive.

Sometimes we may need to talk to the person about the incident, but often the issue dies out when we let it go. Our reaction to others words can intensify the conflict or calm a quarrel. If we decide to keep the issue going, we should realize that we may then fall into the “stir up conflict” category and that is not God’s way.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

To forgive is to forget. Forgiving is not the same as reconciling and it’s not the same as trusting. But forgiving is freedom. If you say you forgive and don’t forget, you remember and replay the incident in your own mind and it keeps you a prisoner to pain and anger.

Jesus Christ died for you. If you’ve put your trust in Him, God does not continue to remind you of who you use to be. He doesn’t go around with a check list waiting for you mess up again. God forgives and forgets your sins. As far as the east is from the west, that’s how far He’s removed our transgressions from us.

Something to Consider…

Is there someone in your life – at home, work or school, who continues to offend you? Seek God’s wisdom in how to handle your words and actions in order to defuse the situation.

Is there someone you bear a grudge against and won’t forgive? Jesus came to set the captives free. Don’t choose to be a prisoner. Allow God to heal your heart and your hurt. Forgive as He has forgiven.

The Golden Rule

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (NIV)

My daughters and I were talking once about another child at school who was giving one of them a hard time. She wanted to be able to come back at this person and say something really mean just to show them what it was like. I completely understand this thinking. We think if we can make them understand or show them what it’s like to be in our shoes, they will stop. But really, what it shows is that we can be just as mean.

I mentioned the “Golden Rule” in our conversation and this was the reply: “Well, if this is how they are treating me, it must mean they want to be treated this way.” I think I laughed out loud! That is one way to view it; it’s wrong, but we probably think this more than we care to admit.

This verse does not put the responsibility on the other person to treat us right; it puts the onus on us to treat others right.

  • If we want to be loved, we need to love.
  • If we want compassion, we need to be compassionate.
  • If we want people to be kind, we need to show kindness.
  • If we want to be able to trust someone, we need to be trustworthy.
  • If we want people to help, we need to be willing to serve.
  • If we want _____________, we need to_____________. (You fill in the blanks.)

Which of these pieces comes first? Our willingness to love and listen, follow through and serve should always be first in our minds.

I have seen so many postings on Facebook to re-post the condemnation to bullies that they really don’t understand how they hurt others when they bully and if they only understood the other person’s situation, they would stop. I believe for the most part that they do understand the pain and hurt because they feel it from others as well. It’s what they’ve been taught and have learned.

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” Matthew 5:44-45a (NKJV)

So my prayer is this:

I pray for every bully who has ever been emotionally, physically, or mentally abused by a parent, relative or friend. I pray for every bully who has ever been told they would never amount to anything; that they are stupid or worthless. I pray for every bully who thought they finally had a breakthrough only to be told it wasn’t good enough; they are second-best, second-class. I pray for every bully who thinks the only way they can feel better is to know there is someone who feels worse. I pray that the love, kindness and compassion of Jesus would be made real in their life through a person who is willing to serve and show that their real value is found in Jesus. In His precious name, Amen.

“If we say we are His, we must follow the example of Christ.” 1 John 2:6 (CEV)

Jesus did not shake His finger at those who didn’t know and understand His ways. He reached out His hand in love and compassion to show them the love of His Father in heaven.

Something to Consider…

Is there someone in your life: a spouse, co-worker, boss, in-law, or friend, who wears you down rather than builds you up?

While there is no guarantee they will change, I challenge you to pray for them and love them like Jesus. That, I can guarantee, will change you!

If You Love Me

I have two daughters and one thing I’ve always told them is to not give in to the “If you love me, you will…” line. Know your boundaries, where you stand on certain activities and behaviors and don’t let anyone pressure you into doing something you know you shouldn’t.

This, of course, is based on the idea that people will take advantage of them with this line and the things they ask be done will be wrong and hurt them in the long run.

The removal of the word “obey” from marriage vows follows this thinking. We may believe that if we say we will obey, our spouse will take advantage of that vow and expect us to do things we don’t want to do. They will use it to manipulate, control and guilt us into giving up our dreams, desires and freedom for them. They will simply boss us around, expect us to work and they will take it easy.

Yet, we marry them anyway.

Think about that! We don’t want to obey because we don’t trust that they truly care enough about us to not misuse this vow and yet we are willing to spend the rest of our life with them and raise children together.

With this warped sense of trust, love and obedience, is there any wonder so many marriages end in divorce? The truth is people do sometimes take advantage of others, even spouses. We hurt each other because we are at some level selfish even when we love.

So whose love can we trust?

Jesus, of all people, uses this line.

“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth… He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” John 14:15-17a, 24a

He not only uses this line but combines it with the word “obey”. You will do what I say because of your love for me. Why?

When we obey, we walk with God. When we obey Jesus, we follow God’s lead in our life. He gives us His Spirit of truth who will never lead us to do anything outside of God’s will. He never takes advantage of our love because He helps us in all He asks us to do.

If we say we love Him but won’t go where He goes, do we really love Him? Maybe we just like the idea of Him.

God has loved you before you have ever chosen to love Him and He shows His love through His Son, Jesus, and the shedding of His blood. The only way we can go where He goes, do what He does and be with Him is to follow His lead.

We don’t earn His love in obedience; we follow because of our love for Him. He leads us in truth and His is truly a love we can trust.

Something to Consider…

If you knew someone’s instruction would save your life, would you listen to them? Would you obey and do what they say?

Jesus, God’s Word, saves and gives life. He has overcome the world and anyone who loves Him and follows overcomes as well. Is there an area of your life where you are seeking guidance and direction? Ask God to lead you His way and choose to do what He says because you love Him and trust His love for you.

Out With the Old

“Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it!” Ephesians 4:22 (MSG)

My daughter has made it clear – we will wait until January 1st to put away the Christmas tree and decorations! Personally, I have the time today so I would rather do it and get it over with. You see, when we put away the decorations from the season, we do a thorough cleaning before putting back the everyday décor. Cleaning up is never as much fun as decorating and to see it sitting there, needing to be done, is difficult.

Another piece to the switching out of décor is the decision of whether we pack the item away for next year or get rid of it. Some items are old and don’t really fit our style anymore. Some items have a story or memory so we wrestle with the emotional attachment to the item and have to decide if it’s worth the space in our storage room. What’s the easiest thing to do in this situation? Pack it and decide to decide next year. So it sits, packed away, taking up space and waiting for us to deal with another day.

“Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won’t let go.” Hebrews 12:1a (CEV)

Unfortunately, I know I do this same thing too often with my attitude and behavior. I know the things in my life that I need to change because they really don’t fit who I am anymore in Christ, and yet, there is a memory attached so I choose to hold on a little longer.

There may have been good friends and fun times associated with certain behaviors and to, once in a while, pull them out, dust them off and relive the old is a way to reconnect to some people I miss. Maybe there is someone with whom I am still upset and to consider forgiving and throwing away the anger seems to justify what they’ve done and I’m not yet ready to let them off the hook. Maybe my future in this new way of life just seems uncertain, bigger than me, so it’s easier to stay in the comfort of the old, holding back because I know once I choose to go forward there really is no going back. Getting rid of the old feels like it will leave a big empty space.

But God in His goodness will fill that space if we turn to Him.

“And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.” Ephesians 4:23-24 (MSG)

Once we choose to rid ourselves of the old ways, we make room for God to fill us with His ways. That empty space is a clean slate for God to reproduce His character and attitude in us. He will not leave us empty. On the contrary, He will fill us to overflowing!

Something to Consider…

Is there something new you want to do but you’re not experiencing success? Do you want to move forward but for some reason you feel stuck? There may be something in your life still taking up space, not allowing the new to take hold.

Ask God to help you recognize those attitudes and behaviors that need to go and then allow Him to fill that space and do a new work inside you.