Maybe you are here with me? If not, you probably have your own wind-sucking event around the corner. A family stomach-bug. A new pregnancy. A road trip. Exhaustion. It is easy to be shipwrecked by the unexpected. Â There is a crucial battle in my heart and mind I must not forget about as I strive to become more like Jesus.
Managing My Expectations
This has been a long journey for me. Learning that there will be ups and there will be downs. I will fail. I cannot do it right all the time.
If I am not careful, I assume that my sanctification (the process of becoming more and more like Jesus) “should” look like this:
No snags, no bumps in the road, no failures. Just success.
When the wind is taken out of my sails there are two dangerous waves I must be on the look out for.
The Waves of Denial and Discouragement
When I succumb to the Wave of Denial I believe the lie that it is not ok to struggle. I deny that I have a need. Put on my “everything is great” smile. Have my “God is good” locked and loaded. Pretend that I have it all together. This is a dangerous place. When I deny to others that I have failures, I deny my need for grace.
If I am not careful I find myself swaying the other way and get stuck wallowing in my failures. “I should be better than this.” “Why can’t I be more like so-and-so?” I let the Wave of Discouragement overtake me.
When I was in college minister I often knew without asking when my girls were struggling. They stopped coming to Bible Study. They didn’t answer or return my phone calls. One excuse after another as why they were suddenly too busy to meet. I knew that it wasn’t that History exam that was suddenly so important; they felt like they had failed in one way or another and they didn’t want to face it. Instead of running to grace they stayed in the storm; stuck tossing back and forth between denial and discouragement. Shipwrecked.
A Realistic Picture
Consider with me a different course. The first cross in this picture represents our first life-changing encounter with Christ, the last representing when we see Jesus face to face in perfect glory:
There will be winter and there will be spring. There may be active rebellion, or long periods of stagnancy. If I am truly in a relationship with God, though the path may be rocky, over the course of a lifetime I will look more like Christ. My ups and downs are going to look different from yours but both our journeys will have these hills and valleys. God has a plan for both.
I am encouraged when I remember that “it is God who works in [me], both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) He is still working, even on the mornings that I don’t get up in time to study my Bible, or weeks of distraction and busyness go by and I have not chosen the necessary thing (to sit at Jesus’ feet). “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in [me], will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
God started the work. God continues the work. God will complete the work.
Whether you are on a mountaintop or in the valley, in a great time of growth or an enduring season of winter, be encouraged. Take a look behind you at the journey God has had you on and remember the places in your life that God has already transformed. Expect Him to continue to work in you; put up those sails and wait for the winds to change.
If you are His, He is working. And that means everything (even if you did hit snooze this morning).
Where Are You?
Do you feel like you’re climbing a mountain, walking in a valley or somewhere in between?