Tag Archives: Press on

Do Life Big

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” – Oscar Wilde

To the many women in my life who have prayed for me this year: Thank you!  I have needed it, it has helped, and I am back.  The summer was rough but it is now behind us.  Fall is upon us and it is time to live in this moment.  Each day in the month of September has been better than the last.  When I awakened this morning, the first thought on my mind was the need to release the relentless thoughts of the challenges of the most difficult 42 days of the year.  There have been 215 other absolutely fabulous days in the same year.  I will not allow this difficult minority to haunt the fantastic majority any longer.  I made it through and am here now to press on towards greater things.

Our God has given us a spirit of courage and a charge to do life big.  There is much to accomplish in the vineyard and little time to get it done.  The growing season is behind us and the harvest is upon us.  Now is the time to dream big and dare to fail; throw caution to the wind and live out our purpose; leave isolation behind us and live out loud; abandon doubt and love boldly; press on and be optimistic.  Solitude is sinful when there are so many souls searching.  The glass menagerie, the ornamental exhibit of 42 captives, has shattered.  The pieces of pain have been laid at the foot of the cross, in an acknowledgment of what they are and an acceptance that we are not in it alone.   In His time, He will take what is left, multiply them, then divide them so they can be used for His glory.

The commentary in The Voice translation in 2 Corinthians 13 tells us, “Weakness looks like failure in the eyes of the world, but…weakness is an avenue to share in Jesus’ death and, therefore, in His life as well.  The challenge is to remain faithful even in the difficult times, even when there is no one left to provide support.  It is in these times that God’s power and comfort are most evident.  This call to embrace weakness and suffering is difficult.  It is normal to run from pain.  But the examples of Jesus in the Gospels, of Paul in his letters, and of David in the psalms are of finding God’s strength in times of weakness.”  “Keep, keep On…. Never Say Die… When in the midst of sorrow, you can’ t see up when looking down.  A brighter day tomorrow will bring.  You hear the voice of reason telling you this can’t ever be done.  No matter how hard reality seems, just hold on to your dreams.  Don’t give up and don’t give in although it seems you never win.  You will always pass the test as long as you keep your head to the sky.  You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky.  You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky.  Be optimistic!”  Sounds of Blackness – Optimistic

If anyone understood the harshness of this world, the Son of Man did.  He left His place in heaven and laid it all on the line just so we can live in eternity with Him.  His suffering was great and he paid the ultimate price for us.  Through it all, God was with Him.  Through His obedience, He fulfilled the scriptures so we would never be separated from Him again.

Mark 15:15-37 in part tells us, “15 When Pilate saw that he could not persuade the crowd to change its mind, he…had Jesus publicly whipped, which was the normal prelude to crucifixion.  Then he had Jesus led away to be crucified…17 They put a purple robe on Him and made a crown of thorns that they forced onto His head, 18 and they began to cry out in mock salute.  19 For a long while they beat Him on the head with a reed, spat upon Him, and knelt down as if to honor Him.  20 When they had finished mocking Him, they stripped off His purple robe and put His own clothes back on Him.  Then they took Him away to be executed…24 And so they crucified Him, divided up His clothes, and cast lots (an ancient equivalent of rolling dice) to see who would keep the clothes they had stripped from Him.  25 His crucifixion began about nine o’clock in the morning…29 Those passing by on their way into or out of Jerusalem insulted and ridiculed Him…33 At noon, the day suddenly darkened for three hours across the entire land.  34 Sometime around three o’clock Jesus called out in a loud voice.  Jesus: Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?  Jesus was speaking, as in the psalms, ‘My God, My God, why have You turned Your back on Me?’…37 Then Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and He took His last breath.  38 At that moment, the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

The commentary from the VOICE translation of Mark 15 explains, “The tearing of the temple veil is a picture of what Jesus’ death has accomplished.  The temple sanctuary is divided into two sections: the holy place and the most holy place.  The most holy place is a chamber so sanctified that only the high priest can enter—and then only once a year.  There God’s presence is manifest on earth.  A long curtain divides the two areas, and at the moment of Jesus’ death it is torn in two.  The veil that serves as a means to protect everyone but the high priest from the power of God’s presence is no longer needed because Jesus, on account of His sacrificial death, gives everyone access to God.  Only God Himself can rip the curtain in two ‘from top to bottom,’ opening the way for people to come into His presence.”

Our God is with us from beginning to end, through all of our triumphs and trials.  What made the victory of conquering the mountain so sweet is that we traversed the valley first.  The climb was steep, intense, and arduous.  But we did it because we remained faithful and persevered with the support of others who believe in His vision.

Jesus came to earth and lived out His mission, which included many trials, challenges and difficulties.  His example was to go all out and to be all in without regard for how hard it might be.  The challenges of the summer taught me many lessons and I now know that they were each a blessing in disguise.  Through my weakness, I gained strength; because of adversity, I received wisdom; in my moments of despair, seedlings of hope blossomed.  “If things around you crumble, no you don’t have to stumble and fall.  Keep pushing on and don’t you look back.  I know that storms and strife cloud up your outlook on life.  Just think ahead and you’ll be inspired to reach higher and higher.  You’ll always do your best if you learn to never say never.  You may be down but you’re not out.  Don’t give up and don’t give in although it seems you never win.  You will always pass the test as long as you keep your head to the sky.  You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky (you can win child).  You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky.  Be optimistic!Optimistic

11-13 And that’s about it, friends.  Be cheerful.  Keep things in good repair.  Keep your spirits up.  Think in harmony.  Be agreeable.  Do all that, and the God of love and peace will be with you for sure.  Greet one another with a holy embrace.  2 Corinthians 13:11-13

Now that you know there is nothing standing between you and Him, what’s stopping you?  What is your calling in life?  Whatever it is, pursue it earnestly.  Leave nothing on the table and no room for regrets.  He is with you and your sisters are praying for you.  What power against you can prevail?  Now go get ‘em!  Whatever He is calling you to do, do it big.

 


What Do You Expect?

So frequently, my friends make fun of me because I do not watch TV or listen to terrestrial radio.  Often, they ask me what I think about local news events.  I have to ask them to educate me on the event before I can provide a thoughtful response.  Occasionally, I look up breaking news on the internet only to be bombarded by accounts of humanity at its worse.  When I looked at online news accounts today, terrorism, civil war, overdose, cannibalism, and racism are terms in the top five headlines.  That level of negativity cannot possible yield positive outcomes.  So, I quickly exited out of the news site because I want more positive experiences than negative ones.  That level of doom and gloom is stressful and erodes hope.  These types of bad deeds may be the world’s reality, but they are not affirming or encouraging.  But I struggle because I want to remain relevant and relatable.  I know that awareness of current events is a way to get there, but in this world without rails, I quickly get lulled into believing the worst and expecting the least.

Titus 3:1-8 lays out the promises and expectations of a Christian walk.  It says, “1-2 Remind the people to respect the government and be law-abiding, always ready to lend a helping hand. No insults, no fights. God’s people should be bighearted and courteous. 3-8 It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this. (Message)

So how does this play out in everyday life?  Many people encourage the elimination of expectations simply to avoid disappointment.  What is missed with that direction is the understanding that choosing to live without expectation creates a life without inspiration.  An unstimulated soul that cannot feel is lifeless.  So…when we are surrounded by the challenges of negativity, low expectations, and malicious ways, how do we seek His promises and live in His light?  The answer lies in prayer.  With everything, go to Him on bended knee.

Driving my usual route to work the other day, I entered the on ramp to an elevated highway.  I began to merge left towards fast-moving traffic into a clear lane.  Suddenly, a three-axel euro truck accelerated and not only closed the gap but also switched from the main lanes to the right hand merge lane while looking left.  I quickly accelerated ahead of the truck to avoid a collision with the truck and the guard rail on an elevated roadway.  I thought, “Wow!  That was close.  Good, no one was hurt.”  I continued on.  Soon thereafter, traffic slowed to a standstill.  I glanced into my right side view mirror and saw the euro truck slowly approaching in the adjacent lane.  I then felt the driver’s eyes peering at me.  I thought, “Seriously dude?  You were the one who failed to maintain a single lane of traffic back there and nearly ran me off the highway.  I moved on but you can’t let it go?”  The peering was persistent.  I finally looked over at the driver expecting to see an expletive hand gesture or some other road-rage induced, mean-spirited body language.  Much to my surprise, with a very sincere looking expression, the driver mouthed, “I am very sorry.”  I smiled, nodded at him, waved to him and gave him thumbs up.  He then smiled and mouthed, “Thanks!”  My heart then filled with joy because it was extremely obvious that God is always at work and the Spirit is alive.

Yes, the encounter touched my emotional epicenter.  At first, I was shocked that an experience I thought was going to be bad, turned out so good.  I then felt shame that I expected so little of my roadway neighbor.  I was sad that I took so long to acknowledge him when all he was seeking was an opportunity to apologize.  I was delighted that when he realized he was wrong, he took the time to make things right.  I was grateful that my forgiveness of him was instinctive.  I was thankful that he made time to make my day.  His humility humbled me.  As Criss Jami says, “To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”  In all of his humanity, my trucker brother exposed himself to build me up.

The encounter left me with this:

  1. Expect the best from others
  2. Forgiveness liberates all parties
  3. Regardless of others’ actions, we are called into specific action
  4. Look for ways to be positive and helpful
  5. When we blow it, work hard to repair it

None of us are perfect.  There should be no expectation of perfection in ourselves or of each other.  Building 429 tells us in Press on, I am a mess, I am a wrecking ball.  I must confess that I still don’t get it all.  Lord I believe that all Your words are true; Doesn’t matter where I’m going if I’m going with You.  I press on – When I still don’t get it.  Ephesians 4:1-3 says, “I beg you…to live and act in a way worthy of those who have been chosen for such wonderful blessings as these. Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another.” (The Voice)