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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You are now entering the mission field!

Can we start over at the gateway to summer?  In June, didn’t we all feel like we were on a mission to enjoy the days of summer?  How successfully did that mission progress? The countdown has begun. Mom’s everywhere are on the fence with this one.  On one side, the return to structure, a time to wake and a time to sleep. On the other side, the return to structure, a time to wake and a time to sleep. See the dilemma?  These days preceding the start of school are evaporating.  When entering a store I want to wrap a tarp around the displays of schools supplies to hold back the reality that summer is nearly over. How can it be that August is so quickly slipping away when there are so many activities still waiting to transpire? ERGH! Can we go back to June, please, when we were just embarking on our mission?  I know what the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” but can’t we stretch this season out a lot longer?

What do you love most about summer? Is it vacation? Catching a few extra minutes (or maybe hours) of deck time? A chance to be outside till God turns the stars on? Running errands that have no obligated set time to be done? Downshifting a little, instead of feeling like every gear is programmed to shift on command? Opportunities to gather with friends for a few hours without wondering if you’ll be plowing snow all the way home? Sounds like a mission of a different variety, doesn’t it?

I love every season. In fact I love every day of the week. Some are more fun than others – like summer, like vacations. But then back to work and back to reality and back to ‘that’ mission field.  For some of us it’s a job, for others it’s schools, and for everyone it’s a place to be.  That place to be, no matter who we are is our mission field.  It’s that place where just by being in it we can make a difference. I read a lot, listen to podcasts and watch countless videos. The number of social media evangelists telling me what I have to do to be successful is overwhelming. Their mission field is vast compared to mine. But this one thing is true for me and it’s true for you, we all have a mission. We have a place to serve – a place to make a difference – a place to shine. Some of us take the scenic route, a crooked path, a mountainous trail, while others seem to know their mission like an internal compass stuck on true north.  For those who lack that pinpoint precision, we gain unparalleled experience from all the ups and downs, twists and turns while wandering.  The key is building a strong foundation of experience as we cross boundaries, then use what we’ve learned to help others and help ourselves too.  Our mission field might be small and familial or it might be diverse and seem foreign.  Most of us are not called to acts of prominence or fame but each of us is called to be a light right where we are.

My mission field at home and at work is my opportunity to make a difference.  It’s yours too. We don’t know the impact one small act of kindness will make.  Philippians 2:1-4 says: “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”

What is your mission field? Does it feel like unknown territory?  The entire landscape of my day will be different from yours.  We know different people, we live in different places, what we do every day is different. We have a kaleidoscope of opportunities on our mission fields all needing just one thing to be effective.  Light!  The places where light makes the most difference is where there is no light.  Proverbs 13:9 says “The light of the righteous shines brightly.” We look toward the Light of the World to receive energy, contentment, and an unlimited supply of joy.  Colossians 3:23 reminds us that “Whatever we do, we are to work at it with all our heart, just like we are working for the Lord.” No matter where we live, work, go to school, or play, whatever gifts God has given each of us, we are responsible to Him to work at it with all our heart and be faithful.  1 Thessalonians 5:24 tells me if God calls me to do something he will be alongside me helping me do it. “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

Leaving the gateway of the summer camp I attended, there was a sign that read “You are now entering the mission field.”  Back then I didn’t think about the significance of that simple statement. Now I recognize its truth. I could spend years looking for my mission, when all along I have been on my mission field, the place where every day I make a difference.  The question is, what kind of difference am I making?

Ready?  You are now entering the mission field. Let’s get out there. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDjstImknnU

Unfinished

I hear there is rain in the forecast. Interesting fact for the climate, but what does that mean outside the atmosphere? Many of us are affected by gloomy weather. Cloudy outside and … well what if that created an opportunity to be sunny inside. I think of a candle that shines so much brighter in the dark than when it’s in a room full of light. Think of  how that relates to how having the inside right, makes the outside take care of itself.

When it’s dark, gloomy, and raining, don’t we put on a raincoat, and maybe even shield ourselves with an umbrella? Why is that? Sure, too keep from getting wet. But isn’t it more than that? Isn’t it also to make sure our clothes stay dry, that we keep from getting cold, and worse yet, from getting sick? We protect the inner layer so we don’t suffer the ill effects later on. That’s how it is with the rain that drips irritations, drizzles frustrations, and all out cascades sorrow into our lives. We can be sheltered from  have to get out the armor, the rain coat, the umbrella (favorite Bible verses, supportive friends, and prayer).  It’s a new day we’re approaching . . . in fact, it’s here. Ready? Have you talked with God yet? Have you told him everything that’s on your heart? He knows it anyway, but have the heart to heart, get it out there where you can see at least the next step in your path. That’s why we have the light. It’s a good start and that’s all we need to get our shine on. Did you know our world depends on us to bring light? Somebody has to do it.  Why not us? Let God carry you high today…..shine shine shine. God will make today beautiful. Rebecca St. James – You make everything beautiful