05 May “8 CHOICES” Spring-Summer Study – Lesson 1 “The Me Trap”
Hey there sweet friends!
Sure hope your time in the Word this week and in our “8 Choices” study has been richly rewarding and full of sweet fellowship with the Lord! Lots of great food for thought and for making wise choices! So, let’s get right into our blog lesson for this week…
On page 6, Jill writes about her friend who spoke “quite naturally” about her faith to another gal at a PTA meeting, sharing, “…how Christ had been a personal help and comfort to her.” The PTA gal responded with, “You’re the first born-again person I’ve met who isn’t on TV!”
That’s a sad commentary on those of us who call ourselves Christians… followers of Jesus.
Hey, I’ve said it a million times; I believe most people who don’t know Christ for real have very little interest in what the Bible says, but rather they want to know if the Bible really works! In other words, people want to see how the Word of God works in your real, live, everyday, Jesus-following-woman-in-2010 life! That’s called authentic Christianity and it is far too lacking in our church culture. It’s one thing to know the Bible, it’s another thing entirely to practically live it in the real moments of life like, when your kids are driving you nuts, when you’ve had it with your husband, when you’re scared to death, when you’ve been betrayed, when you’ve received a bad diagnosis, when you’re burned out, overwhelmed… how do you do life in the middle of pain? So – how do you?
In your small groups, and/or through the blog comments, please share some of the ways Christ been a personal help and comfort to you in your season(s) of pain.
Beloved, one thing we’ve got to get through our minds and into our marrow is this: God’s ways are not our ways; neither are His thoughts our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). He “allows” things to touch our life if and only if it will have purpose, p-u-r-p-o-s-e, in it. As we learned, pain is useful… there are tremendous blessing in it and from it, not the least of which is knowing God better. Now, we can certainly self-inflict some pain by our rebellious behavior and poor choices and God can still work purpose from that. Then again, sometimes our pain is caused by the pain of someone else, and He can bring purpose from that, too. Please know that for the believer, the dearly loved child of God, never, ever, ever is any pain permitted to touch us that God Himself is not thoughtfully and tenderly, watchfully and purposefully aware of. There IS purpose in your pain, friend, you can take that one to the spiritual bank!
Someone asked me the other day if I’ve ever asked, “Why me, Lord?” in response to troubles. Well, of course I have! I’m human. But it didn’t take me long for all my kvetching, self-pity and self-absorption to get me feeling absolutely miserable! Praise the Lord, I got so sick of myself and the awful food at my pity party that I finally realized I wasn’t connecting with God in that poor-pitiful-me state of mind! He whacked me with a thought the other morning and I made a written note to myself that says, “Where I’m stuck feeling miserable there is an absence of God’s power.” I wasn’t choosing to tap into His power and live beyond myself at the moment and the result was miserable. And let’s face it that is a stinky place to be because apart from Him I can do nothing but whine!!!
Anybody out there stuck in the “What About ME Trap”?
My dear friend and mentor, Candy, kindly but firmly said to me several years ago, “Punky, this life is not all about you.” Newsflash! Oh, really? Then, again, Rick Warren’s opening words in The Purpose Driven Life, “It’s not about you,” were another slap of reality I desperately needed. All I can say is, “Duh!” It’s not! Take a moment to read Jeremiah 29:11, a familiar passage to most of you; I referenced it briefly last week. I have a beautiful embellished calligraphy of this framed in my office. I bought it last year just after my breast cancer diagnosis (which, by the way, was one year ago this week). I also received this verse in cards and notes as encouragement from more people than any other Scripture over the past 12 months. It has ministered to me profoundly. I was looking at it just yesterday and noticed for the first time that the “I” is highlighted in blue in the phrase, “… the plans I have for you, says the Lord…” to make it stand out and give emphasis. It reminded me once again that God has plans for me. His plans for me. The King James Version says it this way, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” I just love that; it brings me such comfort and peace to know that He has thoroughly thought through the plans He has for me and then said, “Yes, I’ll allow that for her because there will be purpose from it.”
To this day God’s plans have seldom ever lined up with mine… or at least with my timing. Is everyone shouting “Amen!” along with me? And while I can’t say I haven’t been disappointed that things did not always go the way I wanted them to go, I can say that I have never been disappointed by Him. Let me say that again – I have never been disappointed by Him, even when I didn’t get my way, because the end result of the experience was knowing Him better, loving Him more deeply, and personal ministry. Yes, being able to minister to the needs of others out of the healing and redemption of my painful personal experiences (plural). That, my friends, would never have happened if He’d stuck to my pain-free plans.
Beloved, your God is very aware of you, the pain you’ve been through, the pain you’re currently in, and the healing touch you are in need of. Part of the healing process is to lay that painful thing down on His alter as a sacrifice, approaching “the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16) and then allow Him to use it all for His glory, for His purpose… to be blessed and to bring a blessing.
I love you, dear ones! Let’s follow hard after Jesus, fixing our eyes on Him!
Jump on the blog when you have a few minutes and let’s get the ball rolling with these questions:
1) In your small groups, and/or through the blog comments, please share some of the ways Christ been a personal help and comfort to you in your season(s) of pain.
2) Anybody out there stuck in the “What About ME Trap”?
3) Let’s discuss what some of our “Me Traps” might be and how God could be working in us through our “pain” to intentionally minister to and bless another.