Awful or Awesome?

Yesterday at the end of a full and productive week, I was eager for the weekend. You know. Put work on the shelf, get into a book, take a long walk, watch a Hallmark movie. After hours of concentrated work with substantial progress I had that winning feeling. An hour later, I was overcome. The project that every ounce of energy had been poured into has to be reworked, and now instead of three weeks, I have one.

There’s a big difference between being overcome and being an overcomer. Looking at the remnants of the week, I had to make a decision. Let this setback overcome me or begin again and be an overcomer. I thought of King David in the Bible. He went from the mountaintop to the valley in under sixty seconds. In Psalm 116:3 he was “overcome by distress and sorrow.” Then he turns around and writes in the very next verse, “Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!”

 I think someone told me once that David didn’t write all the Psalms, but even if he didn’t there is a common thread that runs through the entire book; peaks and valleys. We all have a little bit of David in us. We feel overloaded, distressed, unappreciated or discouraged because those are our circumstances. We are overcome and feel like we are on our last drop of hope. David felt that way … a lot!  But he knew the power source and recognized that his desire was not to live in the valley, overcome by a setback. His setbacks were not staybacks. He rescued that last drop of hope in Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word, I put my hope.”

David said his whole being waits for the Lord and that’s where his hope lies. We read that with doubt that David would even survive the distress of the 21st century. His life was different back then. Yes, it was. But he had the same God, the same Counselor, the same Omnipotent God. He prayed. I prayed yesterday too…and in the middle of the night…and before the sun was up this morning…and I will pray my way through the next week – because I am not going to be overcome. I am going to be an overcomer and you can be too.

While we wait for the prayer to be answered, for the pain to go away, for joy to return, for sadness to subside how much it would please God if we would use these experiences to become better, not bitter.  Not to be overcome, but to be overcomers.  Romans 12:21 shows us our choices “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Living in discouragement is like living in a dark cocoon, isn’t it? Have you ever noticed how quickly the flame of a candle is extinguished when the lid is put on the jar? It’s almost instantaneous. The flame burning bright goes out when circumstances remove its most important sustainer, oxygen.

We are a little like that candle. Can it just decide it wants to burn again and burst into flame on its own?  Hardly! We have an advantage because we have a brain, we have motor skills, we can decide to act and find a way to get the flame burning again. Are you discouraged today? Let’s take a few minutes to visit 1John 2:14 “I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” 

We can rise above discouragement. It’s not easy, but it’s a choice. John 1: 5 says “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  Think about good things today, pray, turn off the news, write yourself a letter, write someone else a letter. 

Today can be awful or it can be awesome.

A few years ago, Mandisa recorded a song called Overcomer. Here is some hope from that song. “You might be down for a moment, feeling like it’s hopeless, that’s when we need to be reminded that we are overcomers.”

Overcome or Overcomer …. Let’s get out there!

 

This is a 5-minute Friday article. The word for this week is OVERCOME and I wrote for 5 minutes, no edits, not over thinking – just shoot from the hip prose.
Are you a writer? Join the 5-Minute Friday group to grow some friendships and gain support even before you need it. http://fiveminutefriday.com/

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In search of the ultimate gift: Advent Week 1 – December 3

What’s your morning routine? I sort of have one, I guess. There’s comfort in routine, like firing up the Keurig and enjoying my own fresh brewed dark roast coffee. It’s the best! Join me and read today’s advent story.

As we were driving to Nebraska last week, we passed a semi load of Christmas trees. We got close enough to see if the truck was from Michigan, but ~sigh~ it was from Minnesota. A lot of people in the west are going to enjoy those trees, some of which had to be 12 feet tall. For some reason, all those trees reminded me of how quickly the rest of the world would be swimming in record breaking sales and up to their armpits in gift wrap and boxes. There is nothing wrong with gifting. This is the best time of year to be a giver. You know those people who sneak in a gift to you through the year – but refuse to accept one from you? Now’s your chance for paybacks. Maybe you’ve wanted to do something special for someone but feel awkward and don’t want them to feel like they have to do something in return. Here’s the season of opportunity.IMG_0560

Do you have a best gift of all in mind? Something that someone gave you and you’ve cherished it since that time? It’s tough to pick just one, isn’t it? There is one gift that rises above all others though and that’s the ultimate gift of God’s son, Jesus. Emanuel. The reason we have this beautiful season of giving to begin with. It’s fun to pretend there’s a Santa Claus with reindeer and a sleigh. We love to envision the North Pole with elves scurrying around, singing and dancing as they manufacture toys for all nations. But the real gift to all nations was born in a manger, in a drafty, dusty, dirty stable, and he became the ultimate gift to the entire world. Matthew 1:21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel” (which means “God with us”). God with us – and God is always with us.

If you’re keeping up with daily Advent readings, this week is themed FAITH. Today we are all the way back in Genesis where our need of a savior originated. Remember Adam and Eve? Have you heard about the first sin? If not, here’s the story told thousands of years before John 3:16 was written. For God so loved the world that he gave up his only son Jesus, to be the savior.

Genesis 3:8-15 (from the Message) When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God. God called to the Man: “Where are you?” He said, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid.” God said, “Who told you you were naked? Did you eat from that tree I told you not to eat from?” The Man said, “The Woman you gave me as a companion, she gave me fruit from the tree, and, yes, I ate it.” God said to the Woman, “What is this that you’ve done?” “The serpent seduced me,” she said, “and I ate.” God told the serpent: “Because you’ve done this, you’re cursed, cursed beyond all cattle and wild animals, Cursed to slink on your belly and eat dirt all your life. I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hers. He’ll wound your head, you’ll wound his heel.”

Michael Card: Immanuel