Sunday, November 15, 2009

Confident Assurance

What a tough week! Did you know that if you have chemo on a Friday and get exposed to Strep you can get pretty sick? I've spent almost the entire last week in bed. I missed 4.5 days of work. That's enough to be a vacation if I hadn't spent it in bed, missed the top secret unveiling of our year long project at work, and had to skip out on our President's Awards Banquet Weekend. So, the price of being sick was missing out on a bunch of things that I had been looking forward to. But, that's OK because everything happens for a reason. I have faith in that.

Friday when I woke up I flipped my "365 Days of Wisdom for Moms" calendar to Friday, November 13th and landed on this, "Faith is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen." That's Hebrews 11:1, if you're wondering... It got me thinking. How wonderful is that?? Confident assurance... I love that and I have faith in SO many things. So, I've decided to share a few of those...big and small.

One of the small ones is that I have faith that eventually my son will learn to flush the toilet. For now it's like living with a potty-trained cat. He just leaves "presents" in every toilet in the house. Why is that hard???? How do you lose focus between finishing your business and reaching for the handle?? We talk about it all of the time. It's not doing any good yet. But, I have faith that eventually it will.

I also have faith that eventually he will color. This distresses Mom. She's trying to spark the interest so he's not behind in "coloring in the lines" when he goes to school. I'm not worried about that. Turns out both Michelle and I can color in the lines with very little effort. So, she's got a 100% track record. I have faith that she will succeed again. Thanks for taking care of that, Mom.

Then there's the big ones...One of the BIG ones is that I have faith in is the life changing power of scripture. This is SO key to having peace in my life. Without it, I would never have any. My nature is so negative. People that knew me years ago could tell you that. I always had a lot to say, but it was not about building people up. I was usually complaining about something or someone. But, it doesn't have to be that way. And, I don't live that way anymore. No matter what the problem, there's a scripture for that. So, God has something to say about just about EVERYTHING. And, if we just take the time to remember that, we can have what we need to get through it. So, here's just two of my favorites and why they matter to me.

I've already shared this one, Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." That' s one of my favorite scriptures because I have faced many things that would have seemed unbearable or would have broken me for good if I didn't have faith in the fact that I just can't see His plan. Those blueprints aren't made for human eyes.

It's like those pictures that we've all seen where you think you're looking at a picture of something, but it's actually a giant collage of thousands of little pictures of other seemingly unrelated things that have been selected for the color that they add to build the bigger one. I think of God's plan as a cosmic-sized collage where each of us lives in just one of those pictures. We're never going to know in this life the extent of how our lives have affected others for good or for bad or exactly how He's used that. We get glimpses of it, but not full knowledge.

So, good and bad things are working together for our good in our little picture. Please understand I'm not saying that God is responsible for the bad things that happen to us. I'm not saying that. I have, however, seen him use bad things that have already happened to me for good. This cancer is one of them. Some days I see the bad. But, most days I can take a step back and see how much of a blessing it has been. And I certainly don't blame God for my stupid cancer. I just know that he's got the blueprints, I'm not in charge, and it will all be used for good as long as I'm focused on His purpose for my life. That's confident assurance.

Another one is 1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." This one has been so important to me for so many things. It had helped me through throwing off more than one bad habit, behavior, or vice. I love this one for many many reasons.

One is the realization that our temptations aren't anything that isn't common to man. Turns out we're NOT special in this regard. TONS of other people have been there. So whatever we battle, we need to get it out of our heads that our situation is more difficult than other people's. It's just not. "But you just don't understand...mine's different..." NO, it isn't! Says so right here in the Bible. That's a cop-out! Now, that's a little tough love/slap in the face. That part took me a little while to digest. If you're the same, just attack it one little bite at a time. But, once we "get" that, the message gets SO much better.

The next three words I camp on and know to be so true. God is faithful. That means that no matter what, He's going to be there. Faithful to the best of God's ability, not the human version of faithful. Since He's perfect, so is his faithfulness. There's never going to be a time when he won't be. If you think about that for a while, it is AMAZING. It means no doubt on this point, period. God is faithful.

Add to that... He won't let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. It may seem like it to you now, but once you focus on the fact that your temptations aren't special and you completely get his faithfulness, it changes. It becomes pretty easy to see that you CAN bear it with His ever-faithful help. Then, it's just a matter of looking for the escape hatch. Because it also tells us that he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. How cool is that?!? Not special, always faithful, not more than you can handle, always a way out. He's going to give us an option that doesn't involve choosing poorly or toughing it out on our own.

So, how to execute that one in a bad situation? It's like being a situational-spiritual MacGyver. I say MacGyver because you're going to have to work fast in most of these situations to get out without making the wrong decision out of reflex. And, not succeeding can have dire consequences. So, here's the steps:
  1. Quickly take in the situation and remember what you know. No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.
  2. Be confident in your ever-present help. God is FAITHFUL, and this is NOT more than I can bear.
  3. Then look for the escape hatch. He's promised us one. If you don't see it immediately, pray for it. For me that usually sounded like this, "I need you to show me the way out because right now ____________ is looking like a good idea and I know that you have an escape plan for me. Show me the hatch!"

Once you have a couple successful experiences like that, you'll have confident assurance in that as well. That's not to say that my track record has always been perfect. It's a battle after all. In the beginning I lost more than I won. But using this focus and verse over time has given me the eye for the escape hatch every time. In fact, a bunch of things that I used to be tempted by aren't even a passing thought for me now. And the funny thing is that now I can see how even those experiences are being used for my good. Thank you, Jesus for always meeting me where I am and bringing what only you know I need with you. That's truly my greatest confident assurance.


Shauni L. said...

I agree so much that God uses the bad things that happen to us to make it turn out for his plan. I have learned that more and more over the past few years and I believe knowing that knowledge has helped me and can help many people. It's another way of knowing that God is not giving up on us. I have seen many situations in which people have made terrible decisions but when they give it up to God he is able to use it for good!The same goes for people who have bad situations happen to them but it was completely out of their control.
God gave us freewill and part of that freewill came with the choice to live in a sinful world or not. We humans chose to live in a sinful world where bad things happen whether they are out of our control or not. However, God loves us so much and he will use this sinful world for his benefit if we recognize that he can.


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