“Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise.”
There are some days when it seems that I’ve taken my eye off the prize. With all the changes have taken place in the past hundred years it makes it difficult to keep up and not just with the Jones’s but with ourselves! We are experiencing more change than ever in history. In fact, the rate of change is so great that we barely catch our breath before another blast slams into us. It seems that everything we are acquainted with is changing. Why you can even get Beatles songs on iTunes now!
Paul is telling the church at Galatia that they were making good changes with the new converts. But what was happening is that they had taken their eye off the prize. Paul is telling us is that identity is the basis of behavior: it takes a clear understanding of who we are in Christ to guide our conduct in the Spirit. He was calling out the false teachers. The Galatian church was proud of its heritage of being founded and run on the Jerusalem model. However, they were binding the people into the slavery of the Law of Moses rather than the freedom of Christ.
It is difficult to keep pace with life. We fall victim to the treadmill effect – running harder and harder but standing in place. It seems as if the promise of life in Christ grows fainter and further away. I know there are days when I feel this way. If you are sensing you might be facing a little stuckness in your walk, work or worship or you need to rethink what you are viewing as the prize perhaps some of the following ideas might help you:
1. Realize you are trapped in a habitual routine. Become aware of what you have tried in the past that has not worked. Become willing to let go of what has not worked while honoring previous attempts. My testimony is that often I will take three steps forward and two steps back. But I’m still gaining one forward step even in those times where I was breaking with routine.
2. Become more open to other points of view. Focus on the solution not the problem. Iron sharpens iron so allow others to assist you with big ideas that might help you to continue to advance. Remember that while you are up to your ears doing others often can step back and think about those things that might bring further growth. Your friends may be closer to a possible solution because they are not responsible for all the things on your plate.
3. Examine your daily thinking and how it has or has not served you. Realize there is a choice of which path or action to take. Sometimes you just need to readjust the strategy a little as you move forward. Personally I often reflect why the Lord would not allow me to do the same thing in one situation that I did in another. God is about the new and often the old has passed by and He desires to create something so new in you and your life that you need to let go of the old thinking that has not worked or is no longer working.
4. Assess your next steps for change. Ask the question: am I doing these things out of preference, practice, pattern or panic? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “I do what I do!” and then wonder why it is getting harder to see growth and advancement. That is a preference! Others just keep on trying an idea and keep driving it hoping that practice will eventually make it perfect. It often does not! We see it all the time, people who get locked into a predetermined pattern and just cannot see a way out to do something else. Finally, they get so fearful that they just panic and try to settle into a comfortable maintenance mentality. Assessing your next steps will greatly help you and your personal growth. As you are doing so, be sure to check your ideas out with others.
5. Understand that if you make a blunder, recognize it is all part of the journey. See what your part of any blunder is and apologize where and when necessary. We humans are not free from mistakes so don’t try to be perfect. When you do make a blunder acknowledge it, learn from it, and seek to discover the life lesson in it. What I’ve learned is if you are transparent enough to admit your mistakes and your people sense it is a heartfelt confession, they will indeed forgive you and even respect you much more because many people just cannot admit when they make a mistake!
6. Appraise your plans by whether they fit your beliefs and core values. Then act accordingly. What are core values? They often are unwritten statements that guide who we are and what we do. They inspire our words and actions. Remember what core values do; they clarify expectations. They clarify roles and relationships. Core values offer a compass for strategic planning and they help in sharpening your life’s mission statement.
The world wants to entice your heart, convincing you that the idols of money, power, fame, respect, security, will give you happiness. And they do....initially. That is why they hold so much power over us. But that kind of superficial happiness always fades. In contrast, Jesus describes a kind of deep rooted happiness. The Greek word that is translated, "blessed," is "makarios," which was used to describe a perfectly fulfilled life. This happiness doesn't start out with a bang; but it steadily grows because it is the lasting kind of happiness.
Remember – revitalization and transformation are difficult – but not impossible. Every day, your decision to resist the pull on your heart of false gods and demonstrate godly kingdom attitudes is a decision to honor Christ. That is a decision that matters for eternity and one He will never forget! That is a promise to build a life on.
Dear Father, we welcome those whom You send—prophets, ministers, and friends. Help us follow their leadership so our faith may be strong and steadfast, never just tenuous and pretentious. May we put others first in all things. Amen.