Dreary that was the word for it as I headed to work today. Continuous rain, grey sky. It felt melancholy and yes dreary. I’d rather have stayed snuggled in bed listening to the soft rain. Then it would have been a cosy day – not dreary. But nonetheless here I was joining the commute to work. However, somehow between leaving home and arriving at work my attitude changed. It didn’t stop raining, but stopping off to grab a coffee (yes the coffee helped!) I noticed something. Or rather I heard something. The birds were still singing. And let’s face it they’re more out in the elements than we are. In this grey day there were still joy and blessings to be found. Yes joy in my delicious hot flat white – perfect for this weather. Blessings in hearing the birds singing. Blessings in the conversations with my workmates.
Our attitude or our outlook on life has an impact. A famous Zig Ziglar quote says this “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” Attitude is the eye of our souls. It determines how we view life. How we react to circumstances, how we respond to life itself is up to us. We can put limits on our lives by our attitudes.
“But I also knew if I could somehow replace my doubt with hope, my fear with courage, and my self-pity with a sense of pride, then I just might be able to do this.” (Bear Grylls)
And tonight as the rain has lingered on I get to snuggle into bed and go to sleep listening to the soft rain falling. A cosy day indeed.
I had rattlesnake for dinner the other night. Rattlesnake and cactus “fries” to be exact. I was as brave and daring as Bear Grylls. True, mine was served on a dinner plate in a restaurant and I hadn’t had to kill the thing or eat it raw. It came fried and properly cooked. I was still brave though, especially given none of my fellow colleagues (including the locals!) were game enough to order the same and were just as excited to take photos of the dinner and me eating it as I was!
Actually, when it comes to food, I’m always up for a challenge. I’ve eaten snails, crocodile, Egyptian pigeon, an entire raw onion to name a few. As I child I even took to eating the occasional weed! No I wasn’t starved as a child, I just liked the tanginess of it! As it turns out eating weeds is a forgotten art currently undergoing a renaissance in French cuisine, so I may have just been ahead of my time.
So yes I am rather brave and daring when it comes to trying new food. Going to the dentist, having the flu injection and finding a spider is an entirely different matter. Petrified, fearful are definitely apt descriptions of how I feel when confronted with those. Feeling fear is normal however, an expected part of life. The challenge is do we live a life constrained by our fears? Do our fears become limits on what we experience? More importantly do we let our fears over ride the call of God on our lives and prevent us from walking into the fullness of the life that God has purposed us for?
I am reassured by how many times in the Bible God said “do not be afraid”, or “fear not”. I’m definitely not alone in feeling fear and am rather good company – Joshua, Gideon and Moses all had God encourage them not to be afraid. The key though, is that each time with the reassurance from God to not be afraid, the person had to walk through that which had scared or intimidated them. Action was required. They had to push through their fear. As much as I can’t ignore the need to go to the Dentist (eek!) I must respond to the call of God on my life and even though I am afraid, I must push past the feeling of fear and embrace what God has for me.
What is God telling you to not be afraid of? What is He asking you to do? Time to get your Bear Grylls on and be brave.
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Fearless – showing a lack of fear
Fearless – bold, courageous, daring, plucky. That was definitely me this weekend, Exploring the sights of Rotorua we did the big splash (as in sitting in a boat while it plunges into the water at great speed!). Not one for heights or hurtling at great speed towards earth it was not my cup of tea. I choose the word fearless here as I know inside I was definitely petrified, I was just not showing it. Given I was sitting beside my 6 year old son, I felt it was important for him to not see me freaking out (this time anyway, with spiders he still gets to witness that!)
What I have decided though is feeling fear is very normal and it’s when we push through the fear (of whatever it is) that we then get to say we’re bold and plucky, daring and dynamic, confident and brave.
“Being brave isn’t the absence of fear. Being brave is having that fear but finding a way through it.” (Bear Grylls)
The thing with fear is that it can be pretty insidious and if we are not careful it can control our lives. Fear of failure can keep us from going for that promotion that we know we would love. Fear of rejection can have us exhausting ourselves as we try to keep everyone’s approval. Fear of change can keep us within the confines of our nice lives, but mean we miss out on the opportunities and adventure on the other side.
Sometimes we need a little more help than just gritted teeth and sheer determination to overcome our fear. What we need is Jesus, for perfect love drives out fear. Perfect love trumps fear – EVERY TIME! A fearless life is a life lived with confidence in Jesus and not ruled by our fears.
If you have ever travelled on the Underground in London you will be familiar with the signs and announcements telling you to mind the gap. Reminders to be careful of the gap that exists between the platform and the train you are about to embark on. One of my friends though didn’t so much mind the gap as find the gap! She slipped and partly fell down the gap and had to be rescued from the semi decorous position she found herself in. In her words she says she did not drop her coffee or even spill it!
In life at some point we all transverse a gap. The gap being the space of time between the promise from God and its fulfilment. And it is good to take some advice from London’s Underground and pay attention to how we “mind the gap”.
It is this gap that we can end up in disillusionment, discouragement and despair. But it is also in this place that we can thrive. Martin Crowe, a legendary New Zealand cricket player, wrote this on his blog about the game of cricket – “This is the space between thoughts, between breaths, between fielders, between balls. They say to experience the gap wholly brings ultimate joy in what we do. In the gap there is nothing, and it’s that nothing space in which lies the secret to our purpose.”
For us, not on the field cricketers, the gap is where our character is burnished, our faith stretched and our heart strengthened. We need to remind ourselves that the gap is a place to pass through, to walk over, not our final destination. The gap is, yes as Martin Crowe said, the space between. It’s the wilderness between the Word and the Promised Land, the prison between the promise and the palace. It’s the barrenness between the Word and the birth of Issac.
Losers focus on what they are going through, champions focus on where they are going to! There is no victory without a battle, no sunrise without a midnight and no tunnel without light at the end! So if you’re in the gap, keep your focus on the destination!
Hang in there. Run when you can, walk when you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up. (Bear Grylls)
Whatever you do, mind the gap!
A mountain of washing to sort and fold was before me. Feeling somewhat overwhelmed, I decided to watch something on TV at the same time as a distraction. A Nature programme is not normally something I’d choose. If I am going to watch any nature related programme. it better have Bear Grylls in it. Nonetheless, it was only thing that grabbed me and which I subsequently enjoyed. I think it might have had something to do with the calm, serene voice of the narrator, which I probably needed! It seems no matter what is going on in the show, the Narrator calmly explains what is happening, without sense of panic as to what is taking place. He was I thought, rather detached as he described the little hermit crab frantically scrambling for cover from the Octopus chasing it.
The Nature programme was all about how the plants, fish and other sea creatures cope with the changing tides. He described what goes on the floor of the ocean as the tide changes and my folding of the washing slowed. I began to see lessons that I can apply to my life. When the tide changes, the creatures on the sea floor are faced with a strong and overwhelming current. Rather like us being caught in a tropical storm. But the creatures have adapted to survive in the strong pull of the tide. From knowing it’s warning signs and burrowing down for safety, or like the seeds, allowing the current to take it further afield. The life on the seabed is very aware of the rhythm of the tide and adapts accordingly. Even the Orcas and Stingrays who use the tides as a tool to hunt for food must stay aware, for if they ignore the tide they will risk being stranded.
As much as the Orcas pay attention to the tide changing, we need to be aware of the season of life that we are in. When we realise the power of being comfortable in the season that we are in, we will be the most effective for God. Better to stay with the tide than end up beached on the shore. Christine Caine once wrote “every season that God takes us through has purpose.” And just as God has been meticulous in the design of the creatures on the sea bed and given them ways of coping with the strong tide turn, so too does He equips us for when the tide / season change in our lives.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
By the way, the crab did make it!
According to a mum at the swimming pools today, the best decision she has ever made was signing her children up to swimming lessons. All of us other parents concurred. Living in Auckland surrounded by beaches, ensuring our children can swim is an important life skill. Although I think she was somewhat regretting the decision by the end of the lesson as sitting poolside was rather hot.
Every day we make decisions – from the best, great, wise and good to the worst, bad, silly and even the inconsequential. Some decisions we deliberate on for ages – especially the big ones – is this the right house, is he the right husband (actually that didn’t much deliberation on my behalf!) . Smaller decisions sometimes also take a lot of deliberation – whether to buy that handbag. Ok, maybe not! Others we make almost subconsciously – the route we drive to work, what to watch on TV, certainly ordering a coffee falls into this camp for me.
The important thing to remember though is that our decisions set us on a path and in a certain direction. It is not by chance that my wardrobe has err a few handbags stuffed into it! It’s not by accident that we are living in the suburb we are living in or that there are a lot of Parisian features in my house. All of these stemmed from decisions I have made.
Lysa TerKeurst wrote this “Your decisions will determine direction. Your direction will determine destination.” If you don’t like the direction your life is heading, check the decisions you are making. It’s those decisions that are impacting your future. The only way to change the direction you’re heading in, is to change the decisions you are making.
“The decisions we make today determine the destination of our tomorrow” (Lysa Terkeurst). Makes our decisions weighty stuff! The great thing is, God is there to help with the big and the little decisions. Bear Grylls had some sage advice on this. He said in his letter to Scouts the world over:
“You see, if I am going to enter a difficult jungle or unchartered mountain range, I always make sure I have a good guide. Life is the same. Go it alone by all means but you make the journey that much harder. Trust me.. For me, my simple faith has so often brought light to a dark path, joy to a cold mountain and strength to a failing body. And who better to have as a guide than the person who made the path or the mountain in the first place. Psalm 121 says
“I lift my eyes up to the mountain; where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of Heaven creator of the Earth.”
Good person to have on side I always figure”
As it stands, I think next week at the kids’ swimming lessons us parents might come armed with iced water!
I don’t run with scissors. Actually, let’s be honest, I don’t run (unless it’s an emergency – then you’d better run too!). But if I were to take up running (for any other reason than being late), I’d want to run in a park, on a track, down the street even and not on a treadmill! To me that just means a whole lot of energy expended for no visual progress (unless you include the digital display showing how far you have effectively run on the spot!)
I’d have to say though, that often in life, instead of running or walking down life’s road we can find ourselves stuck on a treadmill, expending just as much effort, but nonetheless going nowhere. We can be stuck in no mans land between the promise and its fulfilment with no sense of progress. A door has closed, but unlike bumbling Agent Maxwell Smart in Get Smart the next door hasn’t opened immediately on exiting the first.
It’s times like these that we need to find within ourselves the strength to keep going. To know that the fulfilment of the promise is ahead of us. It’s easy to get discouraged. It’s easy to quit. But it takes someone of great faith to stay the course. We need to remember we have victory in our DNA. We have staying power. Through Christ, we are more than conquerors!
Don’t sit around depressed and defeated. Don’t sit down thinking of who wronged you, or what didn’t work out or what you didn’t do right. Don’t give up because the report doesn’t look good, because you tried and failed, because it is taking longer than you thought. Don’t let the setbacks keep you on the treadmill forever! You have a destiny to fulfil. Don’t give up on what God has placed in your heart!
There has to be a relentlessness on the inside of us, a refusal to quit. We need to remember that the best days are still ahead of us! To remember that God has plans to prosper us, plans to give us hope and a future.
So get off that treadmill and take to the road! Keep going, keep pressing forward – you never know what is just round the corner!