I was listening to an encore presentation of a story my local NPR station had done a while back, with their guest being Timothy Wilson, who has released a new book called “Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change.”
One of the things Mr. Wilson talks about is how the simple act of writing can bring about positive change in your life. One practical example of how would be someone who experiences a traumatic event and is having a hard time dealing with it. They would have the person write about the event from someone else’s point of view, or from a fly on the wall’s perspective and talk about the reasons that might have been behind what happened. This helped the people to get some distance from their direct emotions and gain some new perspectives on it, thus helping them move past it in a constructive way better than those who didn’t engage in these writing exercises.
Another thing that his research found was that people struggling with losing weight, or making good grades in school - if they were to simply pick something they cared a lot about (relationships, family, their values, religion, etc) and write about it and why it was important to them, just once in a while, the folks who did would see an increase in their performance in the areas they were struggling with. Writing about something they valued made them think more about the people and things important to them, thus motivating them to make better decisions, try harder, etc.
I found all this to make a lot of sense, and seem relatively common sense. Not “obvious” mind you, for if it was obvious, everyone would do it. But important for me was that it stated something I’ve found to be true in my life for a long time, but never quite had a way of explaining. I have been blogging for maybe 7 years now. I also write in a journal regularly, and in addition to that, I write down things I’m thankful for regularly. A lot of what I write about is the Bible, my life happenings, relationships in my life, and parenting. And I think I’ve gained a better perspective on those subjects in part due to writing about them so often.
Writing forces you to think about something to a greater extent than you normally do. Our brains are all too eager to hurry on past the bad things that happen and skip in and around big issues that are hard to figure out, and we never really make any headway in dealing with things like that. Stopping to write about them, really anything about them, causes us to slow down, think things through more thoroughly, and very often gives us new ideas and thoughts we wouldn’t have had if we hadn’t taken the time to write it out.
This was made most apparent to me through my first year of writing down things I was thankful for. The more I forced myself to write things down, the more I saw I had to be thankful for - so many things I wouldn’t have noticed without stopping to write.
I encourage you, no matter what your situation in life, to take time from time to time to write about things that are important to you. Write from different perspectives. Write about what you value. These very simple tasks truly can have a positive influence in your life. There is no right or wrong way, you just need to do it.
One last thing - here’s something I did this week: when you are really thankful to someone for doing something, actually write them out a quick thank you note and mail it. It helps you put actual words and thoughts around why you were so thankful, and it is an absolute treasure to the person receiving it. It also emboldens both of you to do more things to help others out in the future, and puts some genuine meaning behind those words “Thank you.”
This isn’t the first time it’s happened to me. In fact, the first time it happened was over 10 years ago now. It was at the time in my young adulthood that I finally became subordinate to God, and wanted to live like that was true. I had left one job and was starting a new job as a carpenter, building houses.
The first day I started, it was as evident to me that nobody else was a Christian there as it was to them that I was one. We didn’t even have to talk about it, just the way we talked told the story. I thought to myself, "There will be no opportunities to minister here in this job." OK, I probably didn’t think that exact thought, but that’s the impression I got - that I would merely be a Christian in a non-Christian place, but nothing would ever come of it.
But I became friends with the guys on my crew over time, and to my utter surprise, there were in fact opportunities for me to minister to them as a Christian. From being asked to pray for ill relatives, to being asked marriage advice, to being asked to explain “The Passion of the Christ” - I was blown away by the opportunities that came my way, in a place where I thought there was no opportunity. But see, I don’t always think like God thinks. We Christians tend to think that ministry will only find purchase in the soil of Christian places. But God wants to sow the seed of ministry out where it doesn’t seem like it would grow, just to prove that it can grow anywhere. He wants EVERYONE to experience Him.
So, the next major job I had was working for seven years at Rosetta Stone, and my first impressions there were that it was a very multi-cultural, liberal, non-religious place. But even there opportunities abounded. Petitions for prayer, advice, talks on parenting struggles, Biblical passage explanations, and opportunities for me to talk with atheists about how God helped me do my job. I was once again surprised by the opportunities to minister.
So, I should know by now, right? But I’m only an imperfect human… I started a temporary job with UPS as a delivery driver a few weeks ago. I basically work in two environments there: one is in the actual building we leave and come back to every day, and the other is out in the community were my route is. My experience of being in the building is that it is loud, fast-paced, and raucous. And out on route, every second I spend at a stop is cumulative time wasted for the overall day, so I have to go, go, go! "There won’t be any time to minister in this job for sure…" But of course, there has been already. I have made deliveries to many people who are shut-ins. Treating them with respect and being polite, and taking just a few extra seconds to smile and be patient with them gives them dignity and makes them feel good, and that’s ministry I can easily do every day. And I’VE been ministered TO as well. There is a family-run business I get to stop at several times a week, and the woman there frequently offers me a bottle of water and a couple of chocolates, and they smile when I arrive, and it’s an oasis in the middle of my hectic afternoons, even just for a minute or two.
So, my point is, no matter what job you have, no matter where you work - even if you work from home - never underestimate the opportunities that are out there for you to minister to others. God ALWAYS has a way, and usually it’s one we couldn’t have thought up. If you are open to possibilities, and if you pray for opportunities, they will be there. Opportunities to minister to others abound in your life, if you have eyes to see them, and a heart to do them.
My family has been sick for a L O N G time, and we were all finally healthy enough to return to church this week. And we were sure happy to be there. Getting to see a lot of friends we hadn’t seen in a while, and meeting some new couples in our class. And I’ve missed hearing a good sermon - and today’s was good. It was given by one of HMC’s pastors, Jake Lee, and can be heard here.
I took some notes on the sermon and both my wife and I were impacted by it, so I just wanted to share a bit from it. Here are my notes, and if you want to hear more, feel free to click the link above:
There was more to it than just those notes, and it was pretty good. I’ll share more notes as I have them in future weeks.
One Bonus Note:
- During a sermon that I heard Pastor Craig Maven give over a year ago, I wrote down just one note, but it’s a note I also have memorized because it was so important to me. And since it was in the past, I’ll just share it now.
"Love is giving people what they need, in a way they can receive it."
Think about that, and how it applies to things you do this week, and I think you’ll see just how huge that one simple statement is.
Have a great week!
During my daughter’s nap today, my son and I made “cowboy cookies.” I chose gingerbread cutouts from the The Cowboy Cookie Book, and they took a while to make, but they’re good. Very hearty and filling for a cookie though - must be because it’s an actual recipe that cowboys used. Had to last them while out on the range…
The family was away today, so I spent my afternoon pulling nails out of some reclaimed wood I recently acquired. There’s something about a cool day, a pile of lumber, and a hammer in your hand that is therapeutic for a man. These old pallets and scrap wood will be transformed into Christmas gifts this fall.
I was tempted to just include this with the last post, but a) it was long enough already, and b) it didn’t seem like it really fit with it. The last post was an informative post about a general topic. This one is a post on personal updates.
So, all that being said - I’m getting closer to having some positive things happening job-wise. Three weeks ago, I attended a group interview at the UPS facility in Front Royal. Two weeks ago, I passed my UPS driving test. This week, I completed an 8-hour online training course and passed two assessments in order to get selected for a week-long training school coming up in October. Yes, unless a “real” job comes along in the next couple weeks, yours truly will be donning those iconic brown shorts and driving around with the doors open very soon.
I still have to complete the training school of course, but if I do (and I should), I’ll be a delivery driver for the UPS for the remainder of this year. It’s a temporary position, and there are no benefits, but it pays a heck of a lot nicer than unemployment. I’ll also be learning some new skills and gaining familiarity with a large US corporation.
After the 1st of the year, I won’t be able to drive anymore (I’m just holiday help), but I could possibly stay on and work mornings on the loading crew. There are several benefits to this, including benefits, and a potential to one day in the future segue into being an actual full-time driver.
So, in a couple of weeks, I’ll start earning money again by working a regular job. And there is a possibility of at least part-time employment after this stint is over. So, that’s a very positive thing that’s happening right now.
On other fronts, this week has been very interesting with some interesting jobs coming my way that are all intriguing in widely various ways. All to say that I might not get hired at any of those places, but it’s nice to see still new and exciting possibilities coming. Things had been a bit stale for a while, and the optimism that comes with seeing jobs like these is quite refreshing to the soul.
Above all else, I KNOW God has a plan for me, and I do pray every day for Him to get on with it, but I also am being patient and waiting to see what happens. Short-term, unemployment and short-term insurance are our safety nets, along with our savings account. So, we’re not sweating really. I’ll keep moving forward and just see what happens.
In the meantime, if you want to know any of “our” guaranteed delivery times for any of the various services UPS offers, I can probably tell you off the top of my head. I can also tell you methods for staying safe on the job and how to key in a pick-up on the hand-held DIAD. So, if you want to know, just ask me. :)
I have been shocked over and over again by the reality of being unemployed. I truly had no idea what it was really like, and I can honestly say now that I can relate to a new group of people - the unemployed.
I’ve been out of a job since June 19th. As if the humility of being let go from a company you worked for for 7 years, and the shame of not being able to provide for your family wasn’t enough, there’s a real force out there working against you to make life even tougher.
I spend a lot of time searching job boards, filling out application after application, emailing, calling, interviewing, and hoping about job possibilities. It doesn’t take up all of my time, but it’s time consuming. But all the other stuff you have to do, just to make sure things don’t crash all around you, while you’re unemployed - that stuff is an absolute uphill grind. For those who’ve never been here, let me explain what a typical week looks like.
As I said, you go onto job boards daily and see what’s new, and I probably file 3-5 new job apps a week. If you’re lucky, you have friends, family, and neighbors that give you a tip or two to follow up on each week. In addition to that, every Sunday you have to file your weekly claim for unemployment. This is where you tell the Virginia Employment Commission two jobs that you’ve applied for in the past week, and that you still are unemployed, and they issue you your assistance check the next week. I’m glad to have unemployment because that coupled with my wife’s part-time income is just enough for us to pay all of our essential bills month to month. But it’s vital to receive it.
But the VEC is kind of like the DMV. It’s a big, governmental system and there are LOTS of rules and fine print. If anything goes askew, you get locked out of the process and your funds get cut off. It’s happened to me three times in less than 4 weeks. The first one was because I wasn’t sure how to answer a question on the application, and because I answered it wrong, they shut me off. I had to then engage in phone calls 3-4 times over a 5 day period, and finally they figured out I was legit, and they let me back in. The second time I entered my password to the site wrong a few times (I thought I was going to get it, but I kept messing it up) and it locked my account. Had to call in and get that straightened out. This week, surprisingly, the system just says “You’re out of weeks that you can file.” I know this isn’t true based on a letter I have, but because they’re closed on weekends, I have to wait until after this week’s deadline to file and call in on Monday to straighten it out again. Hopefully it’s a quick thing, but who knows?
The unemployment assistance is nice to have, when I can actually access it. And in my opinion, they make this hard to do. People typically use the system on the weekend (which is when they TELL you to file), and that’s when things to wrong, and nobody works over the weekend to help you. So I regularly miss deadlines for filing, have to call Monday, and then file. The good news is, everything so far HAS been straightened out eventually, but it’s an absolute grind and it gets frustrating very quickly.
Add on to that trying to figure out health insurance. I had it through my work. Now it’s gone, and my default option is through a Cobra plan that costs >$1,500 a month. That’s ridiculous for someone who doesn’t have a job. My wife’s work health plan is almost as bad. Luckily, Anthem offers short-term, 60-day plans, that are quite affordable. I signed us up, and things were looking good and I was going to cancel our Cobra plan for the month of September as soon as we were approved. Then I got word that only half of my family was approved. I had to then contact the underwriting dept, find out what was the hitch, then go to two separate doctor’s offices and get copies of notes from past visits, scan and email those to Anthem and wait to see if we could get my wife and son in. I was initially told this would take 3-5 days. No problem, I’ll hold onto Cobra just a bit longer and if I only have to pay for a couple of days of that this month, no biggie - but you can’t just cancel it and be uninsured, because that’s a big no-no in the insurance world, and too big a financial risk. But if we keep it this month, it’ll cost us $1500.
The next time I called in, I was told no, nothing yet, it usually takes 7-10 days. The next time I called, it was up to 21 days. I am now feeling sick to my stomach thinking of paying for both policies for September and there’s nothing I can do to make Anthem move any faster. I finally got a call Thursday that they had been accepted onto the plan, and I emailed the cancellation in for Cobra, but I’m waiting to see whether they’ll bill me or not. Maybe they won’t since we didn’t use it, but I doubt it. Trying to do the right thing and hustle didn’t get me anywhere and now we may be out a critical chunk of savings. All because Anthem drug their feet - totally out of my control. A frustrating, constant, worrying grind.
Then there are the jobs that you don’t even really want, but since you feel obligated to apply because you need any job, you find out you have to drive to town and fill out an application in ink just to apply. Why that is I have no idea. My resume contained all the same information. The site I saw the job on contained all the same information. I could have emailed it. But, no, I had to drive to town and sit there in the unemployment office with my son and fill one out by hand. A job I don’t even really want. It’s a grind.
Feeling the constant anxiety and frustration related to not having a job and worrying about your own family finances is tough enough. But throw on top of that all the stuff you have to stay on top of week to week with unemployment and insurance, and other stuff - it wears a person down. I honestly have been feeling mentally exhausted recently. I’m just so TIRED of doing this.
Before this experience, I would have had no idea that this is what it’s like, and I imagine most people wouldn’t. I wrote this not to complain, or whine about my circumstances, but to give all the rest of you (who I hope never have to go though this) a perspective that you otherwise just can’t have without being here.
If you know someone who’s jobless, make sure you’re being sensitive to the grind that’s ever-present in their life. They have a lot more on their plate than you might think.
Memorable evening. Ross was just pretending to be an explorer, and made a nice little pile of sticks for his pretend fire. I decided to jump in and help him actually light it. He couldn’t believe it was turning into a real fire. We kept it tiny, but it was just enough to toast a couple marshmallows. I want him to remember me as a dad who was there to make things more special, rather than sitting idly by.
I believe I’ve been very fortunate so far in life. I have a great family, good health, not too many crazy things have happened to challenge me personally, down to the core. But the one thing I’m dealing with now might be the first real challenge of my life.
On the evening of June 18th I got an ominous work email, which I correctly interpreted to mean I was going to be laid off when I got to work the next day. On June 19th I lost the job that I had had and loved for the last 7 years. I knew of many others who had been dealt a similar fate in the last few months, and many of them still didn’t have new jobs. "That’s not going to be me."
Today is September 4, and I still do not have a new job. And I think for the first time in my life, I’m actually qualified to talk about what it’s like to be jobless. It’s hard.
First of all, it’s tough figuring out how to just live your day to day life without the 9-5 routine. Do you still get up early, or sleep in? Once you’ve waded through all the new help wanted ads for the day, do you go fishing or is that wasting time? I have found it very easy to put things off for days at a time because, after all, I’ll still have plenty of time to do it.
I’ve been watching my kids a lot more than normal too. In a way that’s been really nice - I’m sure that my relationship with each of them is deeper now than it would have been if I’d been working the last 3 months. But I’m also a guy, and guys aren’t nurturers like women are. I enjoy being with my kids, but I don’t thrive on taking care of them day after day. I need a break sometimes or I stop enjoying it. I know women would like to think men are tender-hearted and would gladly spend all day every day with their kids if they could, but men are not women. I’m not being stereotypical - women are created to be better at nurturing; men are created to be better at providing.
Which is one of the biggest parts of the struggle. In a recent book study I did, I learned that the thing that women obsess over is whether their man still loves them as much as they did on their wedding day. But the thing men obsess over is providing for their family. It’s who we are - it’s what we do. If the job is going well and the bills are being paid, life is good no matter what else happens. When you don’t have a job and you aren’t sure how to pay the bills - life isn’t good. You worry about it constantly. You feel guilty and worthless for not doing the one thing your family needs you to do the most - providing. It’s a difficult thing to process day after day after day.
I am thankful that for now we are okay financially because we were smart enough to save up for just such an event as this. But savings have an expiration date - so I constantly feel I’m working against a clock that is counting down my fate.
I think the most obvious thing that happens is that couples encounter more stress in their relationship. At first we didn’t, but now we are more snippy with each other and there have been more disagreements. Makes sense - the longer you are in a dire situation, and the more you run out of money, the more stress piles up on everyone.
One of the phrases I often get from people is “God has a plan…” And this one too “God’s obviously got something better in mind for you.” I know those are supposed to be encouraging - and I am pretty sure I’ve used both of them with others. At first, I heartily agreed when I heard them. Now, they’re taking on a little bit of a bitter taste. I know without a shadow of a doubt that God has a plan - my faith ain’t going anywhere. But I’m getting a little tired of Him building up the suspense before revealing it. I try to keep myself in check, but if I’m being honest, I’m a little frustrated nothing’s happened yet. And the idea that there’s something even better out there, which is why I got passed over…. At this point I would settle for the job I just got turned down for instead of waiting for something better.
I’m sure this sounds pretty bitter. I’m not really that bitter - but this is honestly sort of the way life is right now. I’m worried, anxious, frustrated - at my old company, at potential new companies, and at God. I don’t doubt Him - I’m just tired of waiting. And I think this is when the true strength and nature of my character will be shown. This is my first real struggle in life. It’s lasted a while, it’s serious, and there’s currently no end in sight. So, what type of person am I now?
I am still optimistic. I still look for new jobs every day and apply to several a week. Though it’s hard to do an interview and get turned down, I keep doing interviews. I’m very open-minded about many different jobs I’d never considered before.
I am still a provider. Though I am struggling with my biggest responsibility in life being unfulfilled, I am still providing for my family in other ways. I am watching the kids more. I do tons of dishes, laundry, etc. I still mow the yard and do the bills. I am still providing for them in other ways.
I am still productive and useful. I’ve struggled with feeling useless and uninspired lately. But I’ve had a bit of a resurgence this week. I’ve had some new ideas, I’ve gotten back outside the house a bit more, and I’m writing my first blog post in a long time. I think it’s important for people without jobs to still try to create things regularly (art, writing, whatever) - give yourself ‘jobs’ to do to keep you moving forward and keep you engaged and inspired. It’s important in helping you stay mentally healthy during this time of relative mental inactivity.
I am still Jeremy. For a long time I was Jeremy, Producer for Rosetta Stone. Then I was Jeremy, guy who….. I don’t know what. I’m getting comfortable with my identity away from work these days. You feel sort of lost for a while though. It’s like your brain is the car that runs into a brick wall. There’s a sudden stop and all the stuff that you thought about and knew about related to your job just lurches to a stop and you are left alone with your own thoughts. It’s feeling more normal now though.
Am I thankful that this happened? I think so… Things I have to be thankful for that I wouldn’t be able to list if I still had my old job:
- spending more time with my kids
- getting to spend more time outdoors
- time to get caught up on small projects around the house
- I’ve made a few new friends
- I’ve gotten much better at managing our budget and not spending on frivolous things
- I’m thankful for unemployment benefits
- I’m thankful for the severance package I was given
And in the future I’ll be thankful that this experience did happen, because I know it’s going to play a part in the man I become in the future.
I’m reading through Romans now, and read the first part of Chapter 2 today. I came across a verse I’m sure I’ve read numerous times before, but this time something struck me about it.
"To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”
I had to read that a couple times to get at what it was that was different than in the past. Finally I realized that I had been reading that before as basically God treats the good very well, and the evil with wrath and anger. But it actually doesn’t say that specifically. Hang on a second…
Now, I want to be very careful here not to take something out of context and twist it to mean what I want. So let me say clearly that I do believe that God dispenses wrath to the unrepentant, and that it as much as alludes to God being the source of the wrath and anger in this passage. I double-checked with Matthew Henry and he confirms: “sin qualifies the soul for this wrath.” This revolves around the spiritual interaction between men and God. So, I’m not going to try to pull ADDITIONAL meaning from this actual verse.
Now, back to me saying that it doesn’t say that specifically. It does in so much as that’s what it means. But the actual wording made me think of it differently, and I believe this thought to also be true. It says for those who follow evil “there will be wrath and anger.” This stood out to me as illustrating the corruptiveness of evil upon the soul of man. Where evil goes, wrath and anger follow with it. The one comes with the other - there’s no escaping it. You simply won’t find people who are following evil ways who live peaceful, happy lives.
Again, not saying that the verse doesn’t also mean that either now or later in the future a holy wrath and anger will come from God. But in addition, right now, these people live with a corrupt spirit. The evil they seek surrounds them with volatile situations.
Why is this worth mentioning? I think there are two reasons this is to be considered. First, if you are a person who is seeking evil and not God, you should not be surprised if your life is extraordinarily filled with anger and wrath. If you want to get away from those things, change direction and begin seeking God. Second, if you are a person who feels like you are already following God, but you happen to notice that there’s a more anger/wrath in your life than you would expect, it might be time to examine just how closely you are following God and what might need to change.
I know at times my life has too much wrath and anger in it, and I now know that at those times especially, I need to check my walk with God. Many times people become fearful of God in their guilt and shy away from Him. But it’s in those times of falling down that we need Him most and should strive to get closer in. Just some thoughts I had from reading that verse a little differently.
I finally got around to watching Blue Like Jazz, the movie version of Donald Miller’s popular book by the same name. The movie wasn’t quite how I remembered the book, but of course they never are - they can’t be actually.
On the one hand, I think there will be a lot of people who dislike this movie, and most of them will be Christians. The main character drinks, and there are swear words in there, and a lesbian has a major role. These type of things make a majority of Christians cringe. However, something I read in Stephen King’s memoir came to mind. He said that the reason most people are weak writers is because they’re not willing to write honestly. They “pull punches” essentially and word things the way they think people want them to, rather than the way they truly feel it should be. In that sense, I feel the writers of Blue Like Jazz wrote the movie very honestly, and I appreciated that.
It’s the story of one young man dealing with some very difficult things, and having his faith shaken to the core. Through his experiences, he begins to see things in a new, more real, sense. I found the characters in the movie likeable, and the story intriguing. I believe it’s definitely worth seeing, and if you find yourself disliking it, perhaps read Miller’s book “Searching for God Knows What.” I think this will further illuminate the change in perspective that he’s experienced - that I too have experienced as an adult. The movie will give you a lot to think about as far as the way we define what is or isn’t Christianity.
One of my favorite sites to frequent on the internet is Fast Company. I love their articles and a lot of what they talk about applies to things in my day-to-day life. Anyway, not a commercial for them… I saw one of their articles on Twitter this morning that stopped my heart for a second, and I uttered one word - “No!” Let me break it down.
Six years ago, I was camping at a quaint little KOA campground with my wife’s family. It had rained a lot the night before, and I was up early to get the fire stoked and work on breakfast. I had learned many a culinary trick for cooking on open fires when in the Boy Scouts, so I began to prepare one of my specialties - fresh donuts cooked over the fire. To my initial dismay, I found that instead of buying tubes of biscuits for this purpose, someone had accidentally bought instead tubes of croissants. But it was all we had, so I proceeded to make fresh, hot donuts over the fire, using croissants. We dipped some in powdered sugar, as some in a cinnamon-sugar mixture, and they were delicious! My brother-in-law said, “you could sell these and call them ‘Cronuts’!” (mixture of ‘croissant’ and ‘donut’) We all laughed, and forever liked making those afterwards.
This morning, I saw this article on Fast Company’s site: The Wisdom Of The Cronut. The word “cronut” caught my attention immediately. I thought, no way, there’s no way it’s the same thing. But yes, in fact, there is a shop in Manhattan where they make cronuts every day, and sell 250 of them for $5 each, sold out by 9am. Do the math, and if they closed at 9am every day (which they don’t), that alone would be a $300,000/year business. It was at this realization that I yelled…
Sometimes you have a good idea and you do nothing with it. Sometimes other people have the same idea and do something about it. So it goes. I don’t know if people in rural Virginia would line up every morning to pay $5 for a glorified donut as much as they would in NYC, so maybe I wouldn’t have had the success they have… But maybe I would have…
I don’t think I have ANY business running a bakery, but if a job doesn’t come along soon, who knows? Maybe I’ll realize the campfire accident as a dream job?
Worrying, we all do it. On the surface it seems harmless enough – after all, it’s just a series of thoughts. How harmful could that be? We know that too much worrying is a bad thing because it can really affect you mentally, but worrying – even a slight amount – is telling of something else going on inside us too.
I was very surprised to read a page in Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost for His Highest” recently that was entitled “One of God’s Great Don’ts.” Also to my surprise, it was about worrying. I thought to myself, “Worrying is one of God’s great don’ts? I kind of thought He’d save those for more like murder.” But I read on…
He defines worrying (or fretting) like this: “Fretting means getting ourselves ‘out of joint’ mentally or spiritually.” He then poses the question of whether or not it’s even possible to rest in the Lord when life gets tough. It’s one of those easier than done situations. One of the first big insights I had in this lesson was “resting in the Lord is not dependent upon your external circumstances at all, but on your relationship with God Himself.” So often it is the storms of life that throw us this direction and that direction. When bad things happen, we react mentally and spiritually in a negative way. We assume various things such as God is punishing us, or He wants us to learn a lesson and until we do the bad will continue, or that He’s just being cruel. We get really depressed, and we worry a lot. We find it incredibly difficult to rest in the Lord because we are letting the circumstances dictate our reaction. But Chambers is saying that our relationship with God can and will sustain us (keeping us on an even keel if you will) throughout changing circumstances.
Let me take that a bit further. Circumstances of life are things like health, money, job, and other kinds of security we typically enjoy. But those things DO NOT allow us peace during times of trouble. Those things alone cannot give you rest in God when life has you by the throat. Only GOD can give you rest in Himself, and that will happen only if you have a good relationship with Him going into the times of trouble. If your relationship with Him isn’t solid, and a storm of life whips up, you will find yourself doubting Him, and of course worrying yourself to death, instead of finding any measure of peace. And peace IS available in times of trouble, but it is only available through the relationship.
The next big point Oswald Chambers makes is that worrying is sin. I was surprised to hear this, but he had a good explanation for his statement. “We tend to think that a little anxiety and worry are simply an indication of how wise we really are, yet it is actually a much better indication of just how wicked we are. Fretting rises from our determination to have our own way. Our Lord never worried and was never anxious, because His purpose was never to accomplish His own plans but to fulfill God’s plans. All our fretting and worrying is caused by planning without God.”
I’ve said it before and I’m certain to keep saying it – there is one big choice in life, and it manifests itself many different ways, but we deal with it every moment of every day. It always comes down to this – am I going to choose myself, or God? Read Deuteronomy 30, or Matthew 6 – both talk about this choice. And it is involved with worrying too. Are we going to think about our plans, or God’s when life situations change?
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:21
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