Sometimes in life you find yourself attending appointments you’d never thought you’d need to go to, sitting in waiting rooms you never knew existed, ordering books you never thought you would use. Sometimes you feel like you hopped on board a rollercoaster when you were expecting a sedate train ride.
That’s life. The unexpected does happen. As much as we’d like to be in control of our lives we aren’t. Sure there’s a lot that we can determine even if it is just what we wear for the day, but there’s much that we can’t influence or for that matter change.
Fortunately, nothing takes God by surprise. Even when we are on uncharted territory we are not alone for He is there with us. And while we may be forging new paths and climbing new mountains we can know that God still guides our steps. In other words, God is there with us surrounding us with wisdom and strength, grace and peace for every step that we take.
“With all your heart rely on Him to guide you, and He will lead you in every decision you make.” (Proverbs 3:5 The Passion Translation)
I have much respect for the Late Lady Margaret Thatcher. She was quite the one to deal with naysayers (and journalists for that matter!). I recently read a quote of hers – “you might have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” I’m not sure as to what political context it fitted into – crisis in Europe, or with the Trade Unions on her home turf or the Falkland Islands. Nonetheless the quote definitely has wider application to our daily lives.
While it would be great to nail an issue or win a battle in one go in life it often takes several if not numerous attempts before victory is won. Your mind may be your battlefield – fighting off thoughts of negativity or failure. Maybe it is the insidious nature of fear that seems to clutch at your heart at random and unsolicited times. Perhaps it is thwarting temptation. And let’s face it, the enemy is not one to give up so easily and seeks to ensnare and destroy us. But we have God on our side! God who is always with us and assures us of victory.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
“The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.” (Proverbs 21:31)
So to quote another admirable English Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, if you find yourself in the middle of a battle, growing weary, “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
The victory belongs to the Lord!
Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.
My garden never ceases to amaze me. There was some definite and intentional planning that went into what was planted. In each season a different plant or flower seems to take centre stage. In Summer there is a blanket of pink roses, winter it is the white camellias that add freshness to a quiet garden. It is certainly something that I can’t claim any credit for it as it was done before we moved here. Certainly since living here I have done nothing in the garden other than reap the benefits of someone else’s hard work and planning!
Being intentional about life is rather like tending a garden. It takes work, effort and planning! To enjoy the daffodils in spring you need to plant the bulbs in the fall. To be a teacher or lawyer tomorrow you need to study today. Decisions we make today determine our tomorrows. They determine our destiny. It means sometimes making choices based on a future hope instead of a present desire. The culmination of many small little decisions and choices will impact our future.
Being intentional in life goes further than our decisions too. It means being careful about our thoughts and words. It says in Proverbs that death and life in the power of the tongue. It means that what we speak about ourselves and our circumstances have an impact on our lives. Patricia King once wrote “the original purpose of words was not communication but creation.” We walk out in life what we declare. Make decrees of the Word and create your world!
“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
“Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming.” (Alice Walker)
How often do our New Year’s Resolutions feel like echoes from years past? That instead of walking down life’s road we find ourselves stuck on a treadmill, expending just as much effort, but nonetheless going nowhere. What is it that causes our New Year resolutions to falter and any change to be unsustainable?
The key to this lies in viewing the action required as more than just change but rather transformation. Essentially change is something that can return to how it was before. Take ice, it’s cold, hard and frozen. Yet it can be melted to become water. This water can be boiled to become steam, which after evaporation becomes rain. The rain comes down and we have water again which we can drink, freeze or boil. Transformation on the other hand is more like a bunch of grapes. We can stomp on them for a long time; keep the juice for a while before we finally have wine. This wine can never become grapes again. That is transformation. It cannot be undone.
Paul the Apostle encourages us not to “be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind .“(Romans 12:2) We are not to be “of” the world, conforming to its mould by taking on worldly rationale and values. To see our lives transformed, we must change our thinking to effect change in our actions. What thoughts we allow to take root in our mind is a choice and will determine our actions and ultimately our destiny. “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)
“When you sow a thought you reap an action, sow an action you reap a habit, sow a habit you reap a character, sow a character you reap a destiny.” (anon)
Words and thoughts are the fuel that the brain uses to reproduce. However successful or unsuccessful we will be is undeniably linked to the words and beliefs we tell ourselves. William James, a psychologist said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitude of mind.” Our mind is a powerful thing and needs to work for us and not against us.
So I guess, I’m adding watching about my thinking to my Resolution list this year!
Overheard today, “I knew better than the Doctor did, because I had googled it…”
It did make me laugh. But there is some truth in this statement. We all have our sources – our experts that we turn to for advice. People and organisations that we put our trust in – from Health Experts, to Educators to Politicians, google even! In fact, one way that the Medical Sector gauge the length and severity of the flu season is by how many searches are done for flu symptoms and remedies on google!
“The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15)
It’s good to seek advice, to do research. The best counsel comes from God though! He’s the ultimate source to listen to and turn to. The experts may determine the condition of your health, the Bank may state the facts of your bank balance. But the facts are temporal and truth is eternal. You don’t have to deny a fact, just realise that it is a fact and operate in the truth and eternal realm. Benny Hinn once said “faith doesn’t ignore the facts, faith ignores the power of the facts.”
“Faith is trusting what the eye can’t see. Eyes see the prowling lion. Faith sees Daniel’s angel. Eyes see storms. Faith sees Noah’s rainbow. Your eyes see your faults. Your faith sees your Saviour. Your eyes see your guilt. Your faith sees his blood.” (Max Lucado)