Updated: Jan 14
Sometimes life hits us with obstacles. Okay, let’s be real, not just “sometimes”, it’s more like “very often”! We can all agree they are definitely not a rarity! Although I hate them, I hate even more the idea of being defeated by them. In my years of walking with Jesus, I've had my share of them. If I’m honest, many have defeated me and left me wondering what the heck just happened, and how did I miss my way out, over, up, or through! The truth is that often my own mindsets, habits, and ideas have kept me in defeated-living on repeat and speeding past the exit too many times. I have often felt like I've been circling I-285 for years!
Thankfully though, more times than not, I've learned some great secrets concerning how to overcome. It seems a little brazen to concoct a “formula” for such a thing as “overcoming”. Particularly, when all of our situations on any given day are different. There’s the obstacle of your favorite barista letting you know they are out of oat milk, espresso, and chocolate syrup for the morning! YOU are a regular, they knew you were coming, how could this happen?! There’s the obstacle of a little too much laundry, or the “bad haircut” (I'm enduring both right now)! There’s the obstacle of telling your daughter her bunny died while she was out of town. Been there, lived it. Only it wasn’t just her bunny. Three of her animals have passed away the last three vacations she has taken! Yes, every time she leaves town a pet dies. What even?!!! Somehow, she manages to still take off to Disney now and again, without panic attacks that her dog will survive her absence. Then there is the obstacle of finding out your parent has cancer, or your marriage has just crashed.
One formula certainly isn’t a one size fits all where the range of severity, coupled with emotions, people, desires, history, and life have created challenges. However, there is the person of Jesus who has given us some pretty solid directions on what to do when life hits us with a curve. Below is my best synopsis of a "how to" when it comes to the things that challenge me when I’m doing my best to make it to my promised future!
Identify the Problem but don’t Rehearse It
Rehearsing is my nemesis. It’s like my brain has some sort of sick pleasure circuit that thrives on repeat. It’s like a kid (or a hormonal lady) with chocolate cake who screams, “never enough!” Until of course I decide enough is enough and start plotting my way through and to victory. It’s certainly ok to analyze, every enneagram 1 has to...lol! But once you've identified the who, what, why, and where, to the best of your ability, MOVE ON to the next step. Stop the movie in your head. The problem (its sources, and origins) is not going to change because you rehearse it one more time. Unfortunately, the old adage is true, living backwards always prevents forward progress. The key, is to move on from yesterday, not to yearn for the ability to re-live it.
Identify a Promise in the Word
The bible is not just ancient manuscript. It’s not Shakespeare, or a book of occasional good ideas. It is a life source. Like water to our bodies, so is the word to our lives. It is alive, and powerful, and actually produces in the lives of those who take it in. It is the only sure foundation to any faith that we have. When we are faced with obstacles that we can't figure out, pits that we can't see our way out of, mountains that we can’t get over, rivers that we can’t cross, etc.…. our only option is to trust and rely on someone bigger, stronger, wiser, and mightier than ourselves. Jesus’ promise to us: is that He is that person, and He assures us that we must live by faith. Faith, the bible says, the kind of faith that moves mountains and gets us over and through, is found IN THE WORD. So, it makes sense, to identify something in the word, we are going to have to KNOW the word. This means the 7 hours of screen time most of us engage in should probably have a bible app that gets a little more usage than Instagram. We have to read it, to find it, to know it, to believe it, and to stand on it.
Remember Past Victories
Instead of spending countless hours with the problem in your head, learn to spend countless hours rehearsing what He's done for you before, or for others you know. Remember the times you thought you were going under, yet here you are today. Recount His faithfulness to you. Stir the faith that lives deep inside you by sparking some memories of days gone by that turned out in your favor. Nothing is too small to give Him thanks for, no victory is too unimportant to have left an impression on you of His goodness and and faithfulness. Your birth, the air you breath, the freedoms you hold, the fact that you are alive today, the hangnail that’s now gone, the ex boyfriend you survived, the time your mom was healed, the bill you just paid, the anniversary you just celebrated, the shelter you live in…leave nothing out. Remember that He is the God who is well able to go beyond anything you think, and if He has done the smallest of things in the past for you, He is well able to do it again.
Listen for Direction from God
I love many things about my relationship with God, but one of my favorites is that I actually can hear him. Obviously not like I hear you on the phone (although I don’t think that’s impossible), but I do hear Him. You can too. Once your faith is stirred, your head is in the right spot, and you have a promise you are standing on, LISTEN. He will speak. He can speak to your heart, your spirit, your friends, your counselor, your pastor, your parent, your spouse, in your dreams, at Target, at the gas station, in the morning, at noon, in the night, or in the day. Sometimes it’s a gentle whisper, and sometimes is a loud scream. I assure you though, He will not leave you hanging on what to do. When we call, He answers. Our task is to listen. Often, I find myself taking more comfort in what I find to be an immediate voice or opinion on what I should do. The practice of being patient and waiting on His word can be nerve wracking! However, I have proven that there is no good substitute for His voice in my life.
Do Whatever He Said
Our friends wouldn’t do it, our boss thinks it’s stupid, there has never been a post about it, and it really makes no sense at all. However, when He speaks, and gives us direction, if we really, genuinely want our way out of the hell we have found ourselves in, we have no option except to OBEY. It’s the four-letter word we despise!
Most of the time “Lord” simply means our ticket to Heaven, our membership on a roll, our spot on the praise team, our promo on the website, our presence on the stage, our name on something. It's usually something we use to serve us and our identity here and now in the natural. The full package of salvation, the one that includes “Thy Kingdom Come” with all its freedoms and benefits here on this planet, and in our personal lives goes hand in hand with our obedience. Works alone are worthless, there is no earning His movement and life among you, but don’t be fooled, faith without works produces nothing. It really is more of Him and less of us. It is our life being crucified and letting Him produce life in us that produces real life. Too many of us are wondering why God has not come through, why the mountain hasn’t been moved, and why we are circling the same obstacle again and again when He has already clearly spoken to us. We must couple all we know of Him with His directions for us. Authentically loving Him is demonstrated by a laid down life to all He has directed and is only cultivated through a genuine love relationship.
My prayer for you today, is whatever you may be facing today becomes a story of victory and overcoming for your tomorrows. Lean in and I promise you that your best life ever awaits!