Sometimes I feel stuck in a dark place. Usually it’s my mind and the way I am thinking about a situation. Life can be mundane, and at times I feel like things will never change. It might be a hard relationship or maybe just the same failures in my own life, over and over. I end up feeling stuck. I think we all do, at times. But, the good news is that we don’t have to stay there.
God often puts something on my heart to write about, then, through His word, everyday life events, and conversations, He confirms that direction. I’m still working on my obedience to sit down and type it out. I’ve also had two papers due recently, as I’m currently doing graduate work (after many, many years of finishing college). My brain can only handle so much at times and I end up putting this on hold. And that is not right. I confess. I’m learning….. actually, I really am learning!
Now to get to the point of this post, I want to share with you my thoughts and experiences about being stuck and what it takes to get unstuck. Sometimes, I can get stuck in a negative thought pattern that causes me to fear, doubt, and worry, rather than trust. Other times, it may be a habit that steals away my time with God. Or it could be a pattern of conversation where I find myself not being careful with my words. I end up being critical and speaking words that tear down, rather than build up. It’s all sin and will destroy my walk with Christ if I continue to stay stuck in these areas. Moving forward is necessary to live a fruitful life that brings glory to God.
And that’s why we are here, friends. To know God, to make Him known, and bring Him glory.
We just feel stuck at times. It is part of life and it happens. But if we are not careful to identify the root issues of what got us there, we may end up being stuck for longer than we would like. Before we talk about moving forward, let’s look at what God has to say about our faith.
5 Through our faith, the mighty power of God constantly guards[l] us until our full salvation[m] is ready to be revealed[n] in the last time. 6 May the thought of this cause you to jump for joy,[o]even though lately you’ve had to put up with the grief of many trials.[p]7 But these only reveal the sterling core[q] of your faith, which is far more valuable than gold that perishes, for even gold is refined by fire. Your authentic faith will result in even more praise, glory, and honor when Jesus the Anointed One is revealed.[r] 1 Peter 1: 5-7 (The Passion Version)
As believers in Jesus Christ, we know that we have an enemy of our souls. Satan wants to steal our faith. Yet look at what verse five says about WHO guards us and HOW He guards us. It is through our faith that the mighty power of God CONSTANTLY guards us….
Yet, we will face hard things in this life. And sometimes, when we live in hard places for a long time with no evident change on the horizon, we can loose our perspective by taking our eyes off of Jesus. And the downward spiral begins.
But what does verse 7 say about our trials and faith? The hard things we go through only reveal what our faith is made of, “ the sterling core”……
Trials refine us. Refining is an uncomfortable process. But it is removing the impurities from our lives and hearts. This is how our faith is strengthened so that we are useful to God. As we stand on God’s word and face the trials of life, we can be CONFIDENT that God is with us. When enduring grief, pain, anger, or sorrow, we choose to PERSEVERE and not give in to bitterness or despair. We do not have to be afraid in our circumstances, but can stand with COURAGE knowing that Jesus, who suffered for us, will be faithful to see us through.
Becoming Always Requires Work
13 So then, prepare your hearts and minds for action![y] Stay alert and fix your hope firmly on the marvelous grace that is coming to you. For when Jesus Christ is unveiled,[z] a greater measure of grace will be released to you. 14 As God’s obedient children, never again shape your lives by the desires that you followed when you didn’t know better. 15 Instead, shape your lives to become like the Holy One who called you. 16 For Scripture says:
“You are to be holy, because I am holy.”[aa] 1 Peter 1: 13-16
Over the past couple of years I have battled with distractions and a lack of focus. I have honestly prayed about these struggles in my life and continue to confess daily when I realize how these issues steal away the life of Christ in me. The more I pray about it, I realize it is truly a spiritual battle. Simply stated: Satan doesn’t want us in God’s word and praying. We cannot live this life in Christ apart from Him. Abiding in Christ requires TIME spent with Him. To grow we MUST read God’s word and spend time in prayer getting to know God. That means listening to Him through prayer. Satan hates this and will do everything he can to keep our minds off of what REALLY MATTERS. Our relationship with God is EVERYTHING.
We are called to be mentally alert, disciplined, and focused.
Honestly, so often I am none of those things. I’m in a fog, lazy and distracted. At times, I go back to sleep when the Spirit of God wakes me to get up and go meet with Him. I sit down to spend time with God and end up reading my email, texting with friends or skimming through FB Buy, Sell, Trade (I’m a junkie). My mind is spinning and it feels hard to pray. Friends, this is a spiritual battle. An assault of the enemy on our souls and minds to keep us from the nourishing life of Christ, who is our everything. We may be in the midst of confusion and apathy, but we don’t have to stay there. In fact, we MUST not stay there. We do not have to live in defeat, distraction, and despair. We will have these feelings and moments in our lives. It’s what it means to be human. But as we look to God and stay in His word, which is TRUTH, we will move forward.
The Holy Spirit helps us.
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
22 So turn your heart to me, face me now,
and be saved wherever you are,
even from the ends of the earth,
for I alone am God, and there is no other. Isaiah 45:22 (TPV)
Oswald Chambers wrote, “ Many of us have a mental picture of what a Christian should be, and looking at this image in other Christians’ lives becomes a hindrance to our focusing on God. This is not salvation- it is not simple enough…..Look to Me, and be saved……. Our difficulties, our trials, and our worries about tomorrow all vanish when we look to God. Wake yourself up and look to God. Build your hope on him! No matter how many things seem to be pressing in on you, be determined to push them aside and look to him. Salvation is yours the moment you look.”
To get unstuck, we have to take the next step. We have to do something that God has commanded us to do, that we are not currently doing.
I’ve gone on longer than I planned today, and I am out of time right now, but there is a part two coming. We are traveling this week to visit our oldest son. But with the Lord’s help, I will follow up in the next day or two with part two of this conversation. I will share how I work through my stuck places and fight for Joy.
Don’t Forget to Pray
I want to end today with sharing a prayer that I wrote on a journal page as I was seeking to wake up and look up to God! Maybe someone reading this today needs this prayer for their own life. If you are reading this, I have prayed for you.
1/23/19 I wrote this:
Lord, I’ve been paralyzed by fear- financial worries, college expenses to come, decisions that need to made….SO MUCH. How will we make it? Will we choose the wrong things? I am so afraid. I’m paralyzed.
When all I’ve needed is to look to You. You tell me to BELIEVE and TRUST You. And I have not been doing that. Forgive me, Father, I have been wrong. I have sinned against You. Cleanse me and help me as I learn to trust You and not doubt. I still know so little and have so far to go. I want to believe- Lord, help me with my unbelief. I choose today to look to Jesus.
I don’t know what tomorrow holds or how we will cover all the things the future holds. But Jesus, You are my provider. I give these things to You……( and I made a personal list of all the THINGS).
Lord, You are my provider- Lead us as we seek You in all these decisions. We can’t do it by ourselves, but You have never failed me. I must believe You and trust You to meet our needs. I will look to Jesus. Amen.
I had NO IDEA what the months to come would bring when I wrote this. The greatest stresses and heartache of my life were just months away…..but also the greatest blessings and deeper knowledge of the love of God. God’s way is a paradox to our way. The worst to come would bring the best of God’s love, glory, power, and mercy into my life.
25 “This is why I tell you to never be worried about your life, for all that you need will be provided, such as food, water, clothing—everything your body needs. Isn’t there more to your life than a meal? Isn’t your body more than clothing?
26 “Consider the birds—do you think they worry about their existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food. Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father than they? 27 So, which one of you by worrying could add anything to your life?[y]
28 “And why would you worry about your clothing? Look at all the beautiful flowers of the field. They don’t work or toil, 29 and yet not even Solomon in all his splendor was robed in beauty like one of these! 30 So if God has clothed the meadow with hay, which is here for such a short time and then dried up and burned, won’t he provide for you the clothes you need—you of little faith?
31 “So then, forsake your worries! Why would you say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For that is what the unbelievers[z] chase after. Doesn’t your heavenly Father already know the things your bodies require?[aa]
33 “So above all, constantly seek God’s kingdom[ab] and his righteousness, then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly.[ac] 34 Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time.[ad] Tomorrow will take care of itself.” Matthew 6: 25-33
Part two will follow…..
Monica and Chuck (though my faithful editor has not seen this and will probably grimace at my mistakes- he’s a good teammate)