God Loves Contradictions

Back when I was a little girl, I remember seeing a skit done on a show called Hee-Haw.  It was a conversation between two men and part of it went  like this.

Archie: Well I bought me an airplane and learned to fly.
Roy: Well that’s good.
Archie: No that’s bad.
Roy: How come?
Archie: Well I was flying upside down the other day and I fell outta’ the dern thing!
Roy: Well that’s bad.
Archie: No that’s good.
Roy: How come?
Archie: Well when I looked down under me and there was a great big ole haystack.
Roy: Well that’s good.
Archie: No that’s bad.
Roy: How come?
Archie: Well I got a little closer and I saw a pitchfork aimed right at me!
Roy: Well that’s bad.
Archie: No that’s good!
Roy: How come?
Archie: I missed the pitchfork.
Roy: Well that’s good!
Archie: No that’s bad.
Roy: How come?
Archie: I missed the haystack too.

Isn’t that what life looks like sometimes? What we think should happen and what actually happens in our lives is sometimes just as confusing as this skit. What should be good turns out to be bad and what should be bad turns out to be pretty good after all.

I think this demonstrates that God’s ways are not our ways. His plans for us are so far from what we think would be good for us that we can get discouraged if we focus on the wrong things.

God actually loves contradictions. He says some things in His word that seem to be clear contradictions. Here are a few examples.

When I am weak then I am strong.  ( 2 Corinthians 12:10)

He that loses his life will find it. ( Matthew 10:39)

The first shall be last and the last shall be first. (Matthew 20:16)

Jesus was rich and became poor so we who are poor could become rich.  (2 Corinthians 8:9)

Our grief will turn to joy. (John 16:10)

All of these seem like impossible contradictions. But God’s plans for us don’t make sense in the natural world. His ways are supernatural and He is able to bring good out of what looks to us to be completely bad.

Ask God to show you the good in the things that are challenging you today. He has a different view that He would like to share with you!

Endurance Wins the Race

This was to be the year.  My husband and I would spend the summer training and would then run a 5K together in the fall. We began the training period with anticipation of getting in better shape, improving our stamina, losing some weight and finally, running the race together.
But it wasn’t meant to be. The day after Memorial Day I injured my hip and spent the rest of the summer sitting on my sofa with a heating pad or ice pack while my husband continued to train for the race.

This was not how it was supposed to go. I did plenty of complaining to God. I couldn’t understand how He could allow this to  happen. Wasn’t it a good thing that I wanted to exercise and get into better shape? Why did the very activity that would get me there actually cause the injury that would keep me on the sidelines for the entire summer?

As I asked God about this, He began to show me something. He brought to mind the verse in Hebrews that we all quote when we think of endurance.

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

While I was focusing on a physical race that would build endurance, God had a different kind of training in mind for me. Instead, He wanted to build up my endurance in a spiritual way. While my husband ran several times a week and worked his body to prepare for the race, I sat in God’s presence, often during sleepless nights and allowed Him to build up my spirit by persevering through pain and discouragement.

We are all in a race of sorts. We all are facing trials and learning to keep going even when we become weary. Everybody’s race looks different. Whatever sort of race you are running, remember that you have the perfect personal trainer.

God knows just what sort training you need in order to finish well. Allow Him to speak to your heart. Give him your discouragement and frustration as you run your race.

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Colossians 1:11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,

 

Dump Truck or Wheelbarrow?

When I was a little girl I remember watching a television show where housewives would win a chance to enter a store with an empty grocery cart and have a certain amount of time to put whatever they wanted in the cart. I remember watching them run up and down the aisles throwing things in the cart as fast as they could. I imagined how much fun that would be to be able to fill my cart with anything I wanted and as much as the cart could hold.

Of course, you were limited by the size of the cart. You could only put so much in it before it was full. But imagine if you were given the opportunity to bring your own container and you could fill it as full as you wanted with things from whatever store you chose. Or maybe you could fill in with money. Now wouldn’t that be nice!

What size container would you bring? A grocery sack? A wheelbarrow?  A dump truck?  You’d be crazy to choose a small container when there was no limit. Maybe you could bring a double-trailer semi truck. Now that could hold a lot!

But the thing about all of this is that in the end, you would just have stuff. I think there would be a sort of let down after it was all over. Sure, you now have a ton of stuff, but when it’s gone it’s still gone. When you’ve used it up, when you’ve spent the money, when you’ve exhausted your supply, it’s all over.

Now think about a different kind of opportunity.

God says that he has all that we need, all we need to do is ask. Now I’m not talking about tangible “stuff”. I’m talking about all the things God has promised to give us if we ask. There is a bounty of things God will give us if we will only allow the Holy Spirit to work in us. He promises to meet our physical needs but he also promises things like love, joy, and peace.

He waits for us to come to him and when we do he fills our lives to overflowing with wonderful blessings. When you think about it, if the blessings of God are limitless we should bring the largest container we can find! When we go to God, why just bring a wheelbarrow?

Psalm 65:11 You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.

Romans 15:13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

What God Really Wants for Your Life

Still Waters

Do you ever feel lonely? Do you feel like you don’t fit in? Do you compare yourself to others and find that you fall short? Do you ever find yourself wondering if you’ll ever amount to anything? How about feeling restless and lacking direction?

Do any of these questions cause you to nod your head? You are not alone.  But God has the answer. In a word: Renewal.

God wants to renew your strength. He promises to restore your soul and to renew your mind. He has the answer to all of those things that begin to nag at you. The questions that you just read come from a heart that is weary. When you are physically tired, don’t you find yourself less patient, less energetic, less focused? Your body is telling you that you need rest. You need to allow your body to be refreshed and your strength to be restored.

It’s the same thing with your spirit. When you need a time of refreshing, you begin to become vulnerable to the enemy’s lies.

No one loves you. You don’t fit. You’ll never amount to anything. You are a failure. All those lies get louder when you are spiritually in need of renewal.

God tells us how to get the refreshment we need to restore our soul. The answer is found is resting in His presence.

What does God really want for your life? Renewal. Take some time today to allow God to restore your soul.

Psalm 23:1-3 The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows;he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths,bringing honor to his name.

Isaiah 40:31 But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Take One Step Closer

TogetherWho are the people you are closest to? Who are the ones you are journeying beside in this walk of faith? Can you see their faces as you think of them? Can you hear their voices? Can you feel something warm your heart as you think of those friends that have been there for you and you for them?

We walk through life together. We need each other. God designed it that way. He didn’t intend for us to make this journey alone. He planned for us to do it with companions.

Things are different now. Our generation is much faster and busier. It used to be, in an earlier time, that families truly walked through life together. They worked alongside one another. During the harvest, everyone pitched in and went from farm to farm helping one another. Eating and fellowshipping along the way. They truly did live life together.

Now, even though we think we have close relationships, we struggle to find the time to really “do life” together. But we’re so busy, we say. And so are they. One of these days we need to get together. When things slow down.

But things won’t be slowing down. They will only be going faster with each passing week. We have to be intentional about finding the time to do life with others. It’s important. It’s necessary. God told us so in His Word.

So my challenge to you…and to myself, is to take a step closer. Take a step in the direction of those people we mean to connect with but just never get around to it. I don’t know what your particular step will look like. Only you will know that. God will show you if you ask Him.

But this I do know. If we are all willing to take just one step closer to those that God has put in our lives, something wonderful will happen. Who knows, perhaps we will all be close enough to link arms and then we can stand stronger together. When times get tough, we will all be a little stronger, a little more secure and maybe we’ll find life just a little easier than it used to be. Easier than when we were trying to walk this road alone.

I plan to take a step closer. I plan to listen to God and see what He wants that to look like. How about you?

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Proverbs 27:9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.

1 Peter 4:8-10 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.