Putting Out

Life is filled with the unexpected. Sometimes it can feel as though it’s running us instead of us running it. It’s as though someone has cranked up the speed and I can’t seem to catch up. In these times I can start to doubt God’s presence in my life. It’s like he’s stepped out for a moment and the auto-pilot malfunctioned. I can start to think, “Well, I don’t like the way this is going so I think I’m going to take things into my own hands, thank you.” I start to question if I’ve been made for more than this.

 

James 4:1– 3(NLB) 1What starts wars and fights among you? Is it not because you want many things and are fighting to have them? 2You want something but cannot get it, so you fight for it.

My fight, more often then not, is with myself. I can be my own greatest rival. When life gets crazy and isn’t going the way I want it to, I can easily find myself running on empty. My default is to try to earn the approval of others. In this mindset, I can treat life like a job and the approval of others like a paycheck. If I’m not getting paid, I feel like I’m failing and since I don’t take failure well, I become hard on myself and can sometimes refuse to admit defeat. Don’t get me wrong there are definitely things worth fighting for, but often the motivation for the fight reveals whether it’s right or not. Over the last few weeks, my motivation was not right.

James 4:1– 3(NLB) 2…You do not get things because you do not ask for them. 3Or if you do ask, you do not receive because your reasons for asking are wrong.

Ultimately, I want to do the right thing at work, in relationships and by my family, but when everything feels like it’s toppling around me I start to ask and pray for things with the wrong motives. It is no longer a matter of giving to give, it becomes about giving to feel in control when all else seems to be so out of control. In this self-defeatist fight I lose sight of the fact that I was made for something more. We all are. I lose sight of God’s grace. Real prayer means I allow God to meet my needs and desires in his way and in his time.

 

James 4:6 (NIV) But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. 7Submit yourselves, then, to God…8 Come near to God and he will come near to you.

In order to be able to give, sometimes I need to be willing to receive. Submitting myself means not putting on the brave face and being strong but putting my load down and asking others to help me carry my burdens. My load is what I am expected to carry every day but my burdens are the excess things that I cannot carry on my own. I can try to load them up or I can do with them what I am meant to, share them. Allowing God and others to help me carry my burdens allows me to be humble before him and bring him glory. I give because of who he is in me rather then just of myself. It’s about investing myself in Christ because he said I am of great value. He shifts my focus back to desiring his approval over that of others because of his great love. I don’t have to give to earn apporval or to feel in control. I can stop fighting for what I want and wait on God. The job won’t always go the way I want it to, the guy won’t always respond the way I’d like him to, the work out may go badly and people in my life may continue to hurt despite my best effort to comfort them. When I surender it all to God, He gives peace.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NIRV) God is the God who gives peace. May he make you holy though and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept free from blame. May you be without blame from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes. The one who has chosen you is faithful. He will do all these things.”

In the end, I have been learning that if I don’t let God meet my needs I can easily turn to worldly things to try to meet them. I can turn to people in the wrong way, looking for their approval to fill me and give me a sense of stability or security. When this happens I end up in conflict with myself and with God. On the outside I may be doing all the right things but for all the wrong reasons. It’s not about me putting out for the world but rather holding out for God. When I turn back to God to meet my needs He defends me and keeps me grounded. He refuels me. He reminds me that I am made for more than just the day-to-day things that can overwhelm; He uses me to remind others of their greater purpose as well.

Ecc3:11″ He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

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