If you feel discouraged or like you won’t make it today, remember this: “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” As long as you have breath, God isn’t finished with you yet. There is no pain He can’t redeem and no life He can’t use. There is no situation so dark that His light can’t come in and make all things new. He is God and He is Good. He is with you and for you. He has a habit of taking people who’ve given up on themselves and saying to them, “Give me a shot at your life! Let me show you what I can do. You’re at the end of your rope. Good! I’ve been waiting for you here. Now let’s get started!”
You need to walk in the new life God gives you. Walk to Him, not away from Him. Walk in step with the spirit, not away from the spirit. Everything you have in Jesus is a gift, but you can ignore a gift. Dallas Willard once put it this way, “Grace is opposed to earning, not to effort.” You cannot earn God’s love, but you can partner with God to walk in the new life he gives you.
God is working in our lives. He’s already preparing the way. He knows your needs and your fears. He knows what you’re up against. God is ahead of your financial struggle, your health struggle, your family struggle, your doubt, your pain, your frustration, your discouragement. He’s working in our lives even though we don’t always see it. How incredible is that?!
Maybe you feel invisible sometimes, like no one sees what you do. God sees it. He sees your work. He sees your effort. God sees how you love deeply. The work you’re doing is not in vain. You shine the spotlight every time, so others can thrive and grow. Your work is significant! What you're building into the lives of your kids, family, and friends will far outlast you. You're leaving a legacy that will live on for generations.
Some of us have been hurt so many times that we only let certain people in in our lives, and they only get to see a little bit of who we are. Maybe you feel mad or hopeless because you’ve been shaken up. I’ve been there. I’ve been at a place where I’ve wanted to give up on others. But that’s a temptation that promises security, but only delivers on obscurity. It promises to limit negative impact of others, but all it does is limit your positive impact on others. There is a time tie to pull back and heal and gather your strength. There is a time to limit specific people’s access to your heart or home or schedule. But it’s never time to give up on other people.
Here’s the truth: it hurts to hope. It takes courage to want something better. Hope always comes with the risk of disappointment--and the bigger the hope the bigger the risk. So we turn away from bigger hopes to smaller hopes. We settle for a small life where we hope for little comforts, a little happiness, and a little peace or significance when Jesus is offering us a rich, life-giving relationship with God. The great thing about God is that He meets us in what hurts the most in our lives and uses it for God’s glory. Whatever hurts the most in your life is where you need hope the most. That is where Jesus wants to meet you.
The answer to so many of the issues we face is found in God. We already possess all we need for life and godliness through faith, if we will only take possession of what is already ours through faith. As we grow in our knowledge of God, as our hearts become flooded with His light, and as we become more and more confident as the people He created us to be filled with the hope He gives us, we find spiritual resources that help tame our constant cravings for more.
God doesn’t say, “Come to me if you’re perfect or come to me if you’re crushing it at work. Come to me if you’re the perfect parent. Come to me if you finally have that drinking under control. Come to me if it’s been a few weeks since you lost your temper. Come to me once you get out of that relationship you know is bad for you. Come to me once you have proven you can perform.” No, God says, “Come to me if you’re weary. Come to me if you’re sick and tired of not feeling good enough. Come to me if you can’t live up to expectations. Come to me if you have tried over and over to be good enough but can’t seem to cut it.” THAT is grace. That is the love of your Savior. That is the soul level approval of the one who made your soul and loves your soul.
The Bible says God has prepared good works for us all to do. Now, from that place of complete acceptance, with a baseline of unimpeachable significance, you’re called to do good in this world. You’re called to do good at your job, in your family, with God’s help, and for His glory. It may be a lot of the same things you are doing, but the load will feel lighter because your soul is not hustling for worth.
If you are feeling crushed, worried, or weighed down, it is not because God has rejected you. It’s because you have accepted a burden placed on you by something or someone else. Now Jesus is inviting you to shift your source of value from your own performance to His grace. You just need to respond to His call of, “come to me.” Hurry is a symptom of a soul that needs rest, and Jesus offers refreshment for you soul.
We always feel we have to choose one or the other. We think that to be fully loved and accepted we cannot be fully known. We have to keep something hidden and put our best face forward. If we choose to be fully known, that might feel good to get those things off our chest, but it will result in rejection. With God, we get both: He fully knows you, and He fully loves you. This is what your soul wants more than anything.
Time is short. Don’t put this off until someday. Come to Jesus and find rest for you soul. Shift into grace. Move from the performance cycle to the grace cycle and change your pace. Let Jesus teach you by making time for soul refreshing activities. The most important thing about you is not what you accomplish--it’s who you are becoming. That is what you take into eternity. Life comes at us fast and furious, but you don’t have to hurry. There’s time enough to do everything God asks.
Happiness is a combination of God’s help and taking a new approach. God does His part as we do our part. We need to start up new habits that lead to happiness. Don’t look over the horizon for something good that might happen someday, somehow. Look at your life today and do specific and simple things that can cause happiness to well up within you more and more.
Check out Philippians 4:8 (NLT): “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Paul is saying that if you want to fix your life, fix your thoughts. The way you see the situation and what you focus on is more important than the situation.
This is what turning to God is like: we don’t always do what we say, we don’t always get everything right, but the solution isn’t to avoid God or church, the solution is to lean in and come and realize that He loves you and He is powerful to help. Invite Him into the mess. Open your heart. Open your life.
We’re hunted down, but never abandoned by God. No matter how much we may feel hunted by the past, by our sin, by creditors, or by the enemy—we’re not deserted. God doesn’t abandon His kids. He doesn’t abuse His kids. He doesn’t turn His back on His kids. God is still working. The final chapter hasn’t been written. We haven’t missed the miracle. Our destiny has not been derailed, because we serve God whose hand stretches across the expanse of the universe and He has not left us.
You are rescued to be a rescuer. God has given you the gift of a rescue and He’s also given you a message of rescue. This doesn’t have to be hard. God has called you do simple and small things that He can use in a huge way. Do what you can do, and God will do what only He can do. God does ALL the heavy lifting. You just have to be faithful.
Jesus wants us to honor our promises. There are a lot of times we say yes when we really mean no. We may say a “yes” that we don’t mean to avoid saying a “no” that will make things complicated. We say things like, “We’ll talk later,” “The check is on the way,” “We’ll play when I get home,” or, “I won’t spend any money.” You think: well, those are such small fibs. They’re white lies. The truth is, relationships can only move at the speed of trust. The way you build trust is by keeping promises--even the small ones.
When you tell your kid, “I’ll be there tonight,” show up. Don’t trash trust with false promises. Use promises to build trust and love in your relationships. If you know you’re going to work late, be honest in the moment. If you’re bad on the phone and know you will never call the person back, just say, “I’m not good with phone calls. Will you be here next week? Can we catch up in person? I’m better with email or Facebook.” Maybe you can’t play with your kids right after work, but what about after dinner? What about this weekend? Make it a priority to keep your word in all circumstances. Under-promise and over-deliver, that’s how you build trust and build relationships.
Jesus didn’t just tell us to be rebels. He lived as a rebel. He spoke the truth even though it made people hate Him, ultimately arrest and kill Him. Even though he was God Himself, He let us insult Him, disrespect Him, crucify Him, all the while offering forgiveness, offering mercy, and extending grace. He did not give us the judgment we deserve but the mercy we did not deserve. He gave His life to give us a new life. This week when it comes to your word, think of Jesus’ words before you speak. Let your words be honest.