Control

Teamwork

Last night I was playing a game—one of those relatively-simple-but-complicated-to-explain games. Let’s just say that my team and I were trying to get our pegs around the board before the other team did.

Should be fun, right? But games can stress me out. Like, I want to win, and I can see how to win, and although my teammates and I share the same goal of winning, we can’t “table-talk”—laying out our cards together and making a consensus on the best course of action. In order to win, of course.

(Card games would be much less stressful if we could collaborate card hands with teammates. Sigh.)

But this card game taught me something about myself that needs to change. Not just in card games, but in real life, with other people.

See, I desperately wanted to take control of that game—I thought I knew exactly what it would take to win … or at least get closer to winning. I wanted to “play” people: “You move that peg there. Then this one here. Then send theirs back to start, and get my peg home.” My subconscious thought was, “If they will just do what I want them to, this will work.”

Card games don’t work like that, though. Real life teamwork doesn’t, either.

I realized that when I am in a team, and I have responsibility, I want control. I have expectations for the end result and how I want everyone to get there. I tend to approach the job with the goal of trying to get everyone to align my ideas. But you don’t control people like that. It’s futile. And frustrating. And wrong.

It wrong because, first of all, I assume that my way is the right way. How proud can I be? But it’s so easy to overlook other equally valid opinions and therefore overlook the interests of the person behind those opinions! I forget that I am human and fallible and prone to make mistakes!

It’s wrong because it makes me forget that God has made us all differently, so we will all “play our cards” drastically different as well! I may not understand, but I have to release the control, be vulnerable, and trust that you are seeking God and reaching for the same result that I am.

It’s also wrong because I forget God is sovereign. He is in control of the entire board, and He is going to win, no matter what. He sees everyone’s cards, and He promises to work it all together for good. It’s hard to release being in charge, but it’s an indescribable relief to know that winning is not up to me.

And so here we go. We’re all a little blind to what’s going on in someone else’s hand, but we serve the same God. He has us all in His hands. We have to trust some, yield some, release some, and remember that we are on the same team, even if we don’t understand one another or see the big picture right now.

I just started learning this. I believe that He who began a good work in me will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. So I want to lighten up some, release some of the micro-managing, and love and give and work freely.

~Rachel Sue

 

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A New Kind of Patience

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I meet you. We talk…a little. I want a friend, and not just a casual see-you-once-a-week type of friend. I want a relationship where we can talk seriously about things that matter, where we can talk about problems in the world and how to approach them, where we can understand each other and have regard for each other. If you don’t know Jesus Christ, I want you to. I realize that this level of friendship isn’t possible the very day (and hour) that we meet. It takes patience for this relationship to grow into something beautiful and fruitful.

I help with a kid’s program at my church once a week. For these kids who have a background so different from mine, I want to see them saved, growing in grace, and spreading the fragrance of Christ to the people that they will be around. Right now. But the result isn’t going to be now, all at once. It takes patience, and He isn’t done with His good work.

God has been showing me about a new kind of patience. I used to think of patience as a passive quality or as something that knows what the result will be.

Patience to get to the occasion that’s only two days away now.

Patience to accomplish the goal and receive the reward.

This new kind of patience—I don’t know the outcome. I want both to know and to see the outcome. Now. The biggest part is relationships and my own shortcomings. My controlling nature wants the person and the problem fixed. Then, I think, it will be better.

Little by little, I’m seeing that this isn’t the way God works. He is always working, transforming all of His children into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. No, it doesn’t happen all at once. It could take a lifetime—which, in the moment, seems like a very long time.

I look at some people and think, “You need a lot of help.”(Honestly, though, we all need help). And I forget to realize that God might be working in that person’s life. It may not be looking as I think it should (and who am I to tell God what’s best?), and it may not be happening at the rate that I approve (but it’s His time and not mine).

The scary part is that now the conclusion is unknown. The comforting part is that God good and full of grace to us, and He is working things out for His infinite glory. I can’t change people (though I would really like to sometimes), but He can. He is the only One who can. He wants me to love unreservedly, listen unselfishly, obey His Word and Spirit, and believe His truth.

I’m still learning about this new kind of patience. (It would be handy to get the whole lesson down right now.) But really—it’s freeing because the responsibility is not mine to be sure people are behaving as they should. My job is to obey Jesus Christ and not to change the world into the kind of world I think it should be.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).

“He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

~Rachel Sue

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Excited at His love.

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This morning I stuck a Christian book back on the shelf. I think it was a good book, but it wasn’t clicking. God wasn’t speaking. I wasn’t getting it, even though it may have been good stuff. It was like an apple that should have been great—that looked bright and juicy—but tasted dry.

That’s how I felt my relationship with God and quiet time had been lately. I’d read Scripture and I could understand it with my mind, but my spirit wasn’t being fed. I knew these great passages should encourage, excite, and teach me—but it just wasn’t there. The words just sat on the page. I didn’t know what God wanted to teach me.

And I didn’t know what to do about it.

Can you relate?

For some reason I had put the first book back on the shelf because God had wanted me to pick up another. It happened to be Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life by John Piper.

It didn’t take me long after starting the first devotional to realize that this was God’s answer to my dryness. Somehow the book pointed me to God to see Him in a new light.

Sometimes a new mindset changes everything.

“and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” (Ephesians 4:23, NKJV)

John Piper wrote:

“If the church is going to reassert God’s rightful place in the soul of man and the center of all life, we will need a sharpened focus of who he is and what he is like…What we need is a big picture of a great God who is utterly committed to joyfully demonstrating his greatness in doing us good…We must experience this magnificence as the explosion of God’s uncontainable zeal to satisfy his creatures by showing them himself.”

It hit me: I had been focusing on what I could get out of this quiet time, this relationship with God. I was unsatisfied because I was trying to fulfill me with my own security. I had been searching for verses about God’s being with me, clinging to them in order to make me feel better.

But I learned: that doesn’t satisfy. Instead, I must turn my focus to God and his glory. I must enjoy His greatness. I need a “big picture of a great God.” In light of Him and His greatness and His magnificent love, He does satisfy and His gifts are enough.

Maybe I was just looking for the gifts instead of enjoying the indescribable character of the Giver.

I don’t know if I’m describing this right. But I tasted it—it’s perfect. I want you to taste it, too.

I am convinced of this: God delights in loving and blessing His children. “For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you” (Deuteronomy 30:9, ESV). That’s one of the verses John Piper cited. It amazed me. God loves to love us. Not so that we can go confidently and independently along with our lives, but so that we can turn back and praise Him for His great love…and simply, for His greatness.

We are so small; God is so large. And yet He is glorified when we take delight in His person. And He “takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love” (Psalm 147:11, ESV). (Thanks for including that verse as well, Mr. Piper.)

Now this makes me excited. This puts a spring into my step and a smile upon my face.

Lord, please open my eyes to see more of Your greatness.

~Rachel Sue

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We have so much.

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There’s something in my life that I don’t like. One of many imperfections, but I think this is what I struggle with the most. I want it gone, but that idea just seems impossible. Anyway, I asked God to teach me what I needed to hear. Because honestly, I didn’t even know what I needed—but I knew that I needed something.

I didn’t even try, and God just gave me of a part of His Word that fit everything I needed to hear. Perfectly.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” (2 Peter 1:3, ESV)

How can I begin to understand all that this verse means?

Life. Jesus came that I could have life and have it more abundantly. In Christ, life has meaning and fulfillment. Life encompasses so much. It’s so complex. But by His divine power, I have everything I need to live.

Godliness. I can hardly take in that I already have all of God’s riches to become like Christ. Doesn’t that make you feel rich? And it’s not just a feeling; it’s true. Godliness is profitable for all things—today and eternity.

Possible. It’s possible to overcome this battle—or any other battle—because it’s through His divine power. My struggle is in both the “life” category and the “godliness” category. That doesn’t mean it’s too big or complicated for God to fix.

Passive. What did you and I do to receive all of this? He called us to his own glory and excellence. He gave us everything that pertains to life and godliness. I don’t have to do something amazing to get on God’s side. It’s not as if I have to have some incredible spiritual experience for this to apply to me.

If you’re a child of God, this applies to you.

And the best part? It doesn’t stop with me because it’s not about me. (Actually, that would be a tragedy because I’m so small.) It’s about God and His own glory and excellence. It’s one of the paradoxes of Christianity how God can give us so much and still make everything about Him.

God showed this to me this morning and it tied in with several other things I saw and read….

The Logos Bible art of the day:

Is61.10-2

This picture and quote from a friend:

Promises

This link:

http://stuffchristianslike.net/2014/01/02/thinking-youre-naked-2/

So often I put God in a box. I trust more in my weakness rather than His strength. Yesterday I knew I was going to need help, and He showed me not to ask Him to give ME strength, but to ask to go in HIS strength. There’s a difference.

I don’t know if my thoughts are very organized this post. Let me make it clear, however, that GOD IS AWESOME! He gives us so much! He supplies EVERYTHING that we need!

Be encouraged,

~Rachel Sue

 

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Life, Opportunity, and Courage

“And the strongest emotion was that life was as precious as it was puzzling. It was an ecstasy because it was an adventure; it was an adventure because it was an opportunity.” ~G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

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In my reading of this incredible book, I have been challenged by Chesterton’s excitement for life. He saw so much opportunity and beauty and magic in merely life just because it was life. The opportunity to live and discover and learn and experience and be.

He’s right. Life should be exciting because I get to exist and do things. How often do I dread the monotony, the dead moments, and the little things that seem to have no meaning? But all of that makes up life. Life—that indescribable web in which we are allowed to find God and see Him manifested in the greatest star to the tiniest molecule.

Do I try to see this life as drudgery, time that I have to use up, hoping that the next thing will be better? Or do I see it as the opportunity that God made it to be—the opportunity to find out things I don’t know, the opportunity to enjoy love and friendship, the opportunity to experience all that is possible with my body, my mind, and my spirit?

Today I learned that seeing life as an opportunity makes me more willing to break out of my comfort bubble and touch life. Sometimes that idea terrifies me because the unknown can be so unwelcoming. But deep down I know that the unknown holds treasures unmatched by what is familiar to me. I forget that a lot.

But stepping out into opportunity is so freeing. I’m free to experience life because I’m not chained by my uncertainties and discomforts.

Today my mom encouraged me with Joshua 1:9:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

The opportunity thing is exciting (it makes life so much bigger!), but it takes a lot of courage. It’s worth it. I believe that the more riches I find in life, the more I can glorify God for putting them there. The greatness of the world is just a glimpse of the greatness of God.

Happy New Year. Find opportunity this 2014. Be brave.

~Rachel Sue

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Comparisons and the Body of Christ

Apple & Orange

I’ve been journeying through 1 Corinthians lately, and I’ve found myself parked on chapters 12 and 13. The best thing that I discovered about the Body of Christ is that “God arranged the members of the body, each one of them, as He chose” (1 Corinthians 12:18, ESV).

At first I feel a sense of exhilaration—He chose me to be a particular member in His body! Who I am, what part I play, how I can encourage others—it’s all a part of His perfect design. I forget so often that I am someone He created to play a unique part in His kingdom.

This passage makes me more secure, too. It’s freeing. Comparison with others eats at me daily, but it shouldn’t. It shouldn’t be possible to compare two people who aren’t supposed to be similar at all. Dissimilarity is not God’s mistake; it’s His purpose. He didn’t make me like He made you. Why is it so hard to remember that one member isn’t better than another? Is it because this world tells us over and over who should be better?

So there’s no point in comparison. God made us to play different roles. I think this makes me better able to focus on His purpose for me instead of trying to be like you. And I think it makes me respect you more, knowing that you are fulfilling a different purpose.

One more thing that amazes me is how God’s Body brings together people from the most diverse backgrounds…”For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13, ESV). Jews couldn’t be more different from Greeks, or slaves from free, but each one of us—from any culture, social status, or background—are a member of the Body of Christ.

I’ve heard these things my whole life, but if I stop and really think about it, it’s breathtaking. The Body of Christ. He has given us manifestations of His Spirit. He really works through each one of us in unique ways to encourage one another. It excites me to think of the great potential of the Body of Christ, empowered by the very Spirit of God.

~Rachel Sue

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Worth Celebrating

This morning I realized the beauty of Jesus’ coming like never before. I was listening to “The Promise” by Michael W. Smith. I don’t remember the exact moment, but God showed me that His Son’s birth and coming are indeed something that I ought to celebrate.

I realized that there’s more to celebrate than Jesus in a manger, surrounded by shepherds, wise men, and donkeys. That picture has never held great significance for me. However, it’s what that moment really means that is worth celebrating.

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It means that we no longer stumble in the darkness, blinded by sin.  

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” (Isaiah 9:2, ESV)

It means that there’s healing for our pain.

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.” (Isaiah 61:1, ESV)

It means we can have perfect peace because we have peace with God.

“And he shall be their peace.” (Micah 5:5, ESV)

“And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.” (Ephesians 2:17, ESV)

He gave up His right to Heaven, became clothed in human flesh, and experienced life on earth like we do.

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17, ESV)

I love the bright colors and cheerful decorations this time of year. I love snow and peppermint and Josh Groban’s Christmas album. But if our joy rests on gifts or certain people or some unattainable perfection, Christmas can’t bring what it promises. There’s no true joy or peace outside of what Jesus Christ brings.

Tomorrow, I want to celebrate Jesus’ coming, life, and sacrifice. And I want to enjoy my family, the movies, the music, the coffee, and the food. I want to remember that those things won’t last, but that I can celebrate the love of God every day.

~Rachel Sue

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