Thursday, June 19, 2008

Day Eighteen: Dig Deep

We're almost at the halfway point of our 40 Days of Faith, which is typically when I start to wonder why I ever bothered. It's so easy to lose sight of the big picture here in the middle.

I've been chatting with God about this over the past couple of days, asking for ideas for how to cheer us all on and keep us moving in the right direction. But God's answers when I've broached the subject haven't been of the "let's throw a party to keep morale high" variety. Instead, he pointed me to the book of Acts and essentially said, "Get going."

My guess is, this is why: Sure, I could throw in a pep-talk day with a random, happy bible verse like Jeremiah 29:11. I could even give something away, like a book or an ipod shuffle with our song list on it. And at some point, I probably will. But I feel like God's point right now is that with this much of our journey left to go, we don't need a party to cheer us on. Instead, we need solid evidence that what we're pursuing is real, and worth the effort.

There's no better place to find this proof than Acts. We're only in chapter 3 & 4, and already we're seeing a crippled man healed. Which was such a GIGANTIC, OBVIOUS miracle that it freaked out an entire city and landed Peter and John in court. What strikes me about this part of the story is how different Peter and John's reaction to this hurting man is that what our society typically suggests: They didn't empathize with him. They didn't spend hours validating his feelings or dredging up his wounded inner child. They didn't give him money. Instead, they said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you: in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, walk." And he did.

I feel like this runs directly counter to the way we're typically told to help each other in today's world. The Acts approach is not about empathy, validation, or dredging up our past hurts and ripping them open again for more examination. Jesus promises us NEW LIFE if we're following him, and that transcends all our pop-psychology attempts to deal with things on our own. This path we're on is about more than than our own best ideas and efforts: It's about real spiritual power coming to change things in our lives so that we can be everything God created us to be.

I don't know about you, but when I'm in need, I'll take God's power over well-intentioned human expression of, "Oh, that must be so hard for you..." any day of the week. But sometimes I have to dig deep to get to the place that knows this, because the empathy lulls me into a false sense of comfort.

So today, no false comfort. Dig deep folks, we've got a ways to go. But we're going somewhere, and God is in this with us. That's good news!

Today's song: Love is Waiting by Brooke Fraser.

13 comments:

Natasha said...

I am really trying to stay focused here, so thanks for the encouragment,I love Jer 29:11

Liza said...

This is about the time I would get frustrated with something too. Thanks for the reminder to dig deep and keep pushing on.

Sarakastic said...

this is a great reminder

Kim said...

Suzanne,
I hope you pop back to yesterday. I left a comment for you there.

Trish,
I can't thank you enough for all the time and energy you are putting into this post. I am getting so much out of it and reevaluating my relationship with God everyday. It's a good thing.

Digging deep...

Suzanne said...

Thanks Kim for the encouragement, I left a comment there, I appreciate your kind words.

Today I'm going to release all of this to Jesus and ask him to show me where he wants me to go and what he wants me to do. My greatest frustration is that I can't seem to see God's hand at work in my life...so I'm going to focus on that and see what happens over the next 22 days.

Kim said...

Suzanne,
I think that's great advice for me as well.
My prayers are with your.

Kim said...

Oops, I meant with yours.

Larramie said...

God's way is the only way to fully live. Facing and dealing with the reality of your problems does more than promote healing, it offers us the power of faith.

the teacher said...

to comment on the reading: refering to Jesus as "the author of life" really stuck out at me. it is a really great way to describe him.

sigh...sometimes i wonder why or how i can get stuck in such a rut. i just had dinner with friends from high school (which was only 8 years ago). i am pretty faithfilled and am very confident that God's way is the only way. however...these boys, as well as my other friends, do not put God first. some make bad choices and some make choices that are a little better, but the main point is God is not a part of their choices and their way of life. i know that you never know what goes on with others and that you can't always take something on face value, but most of them seem to have a more content, fulfilling life as of now. i understand that i am working now for the life i will have with God later, but i lose hope when i don't see results and people, that don't make God first, do. i don't know where it is in the bible, but i read recently that you should never be jealous of what another has through sinful ways. i try to keep telling myself that. i will never change how i feel about God and my faith. i just need a little boost...i am very glad to have all of you out there. i feel like i am not so alone.

heiress said...

I really do believe that God wanted me to do this, and I believe that he will show me how his favor is upon me and all of us here together. It's hard but I am hanging in there.

Trish, what helped me revamp was; listening to you speak at your church. I started having my random conversations with God yesterday. I finally understand what building a relationship with God truly means.
Thanks.

heiress said...

I am signed up with Joel Osteen's daily word that comes in my email, after reading it I think it goes along with where we are during our 40 days of Faith.

Encourage Yourself

We all face difficult seasons in life. The key to victory during these times is to stay encouraged. Although it’s important to be lifted up by our friends, the best way to stay encouraged is to encourage ourselves! In a day and age when people are very critical of themselves, we need to be just the opposite and become our own greatest encourager.

One of the best examples of this is David. 1 Samuel 30:6 says, ”David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” He faced many oppositions, disappointments, and set backs. But the key to David’s success is found in the fact that despite the negative circumstances all around him, he drew his strength from the Lord and remembered what God had done for him in the past.

One of the greatest ways to encourage ourselves is to remember what the Lord has done for us. No one else can truly know how the Lord has provided for, cared for, blessed, and delivered you than yourself! Focus your mind and heart on what the Lord has done for you. You’ll increase your faith and have more strength, hope and joy to continue living a better life in Christ.

Tara Ryan said...

I heard a great message this evening that was an encouragement for me to press on. Someone had said to the pastor that he was having trouble being victorious over something he was struggling with. The pastor said, "But you already have the victory! You just need to grab it."
We are assured victory through Jesus. We just have to ask, seek and knock. He's waiting to answer.

ForstRose said...

I agree with Heiress that the best way to encourage ourselves is to remember. Many times throughout scripture the people wrote of events, told others, and or created a physical reminder (such as altars of stacked stones) to help them do just this. I know however that I am more often than not guilty of falling back to trying to do it myself or giving up because there aren't any results this time and by doing this I show how I have forgotten the things God has done for me in the past.

I need to get back to journaling as writing things not only helps me to remember them it leaves me with a lasting "altar" or "record" I can always go back to when those times of discouragement start to come at me.

God has come through so many times just at the last second that I still cringe when I realize that I doubt He will do the same this time around and spend my time and energy worrying about how things will be taken care of.

That time and energy could be so much better spent in communion with my Lord and pursuing increasing depth with Him.

Melissa