I Don’t Need Any Help I’ve Climbed Rocks Before

20160323_180223Over the last week we have been blessed to have all five of our grand kids together. For us it only happens about once every three years or so.

Last Monday was a gorgeous day and at our house that usually means a trip to the park. The highlight of any trip to the park is always rock climbing. The rock walls of a cave that collapsed many years ago provide a rock climbing paradise for anyone under the age of 12 (OK maybe under 60).

The crew made several warm up climbs eventually making our way to one of the more difficult climbs. We made two short pitches up and prepared for the third and final pitch to the top. Because the final stretch was somewhat challenging, being the world’s foremost authority on rock climbing (don’t tell them any different) I recommended the best foot holds and grips to get up the rock face in front of us.

IMG_1078Three of the five (using the wisdom bestowed upon them) quickly made it up the rock. One declared, “I don’t need any help, I have climbed rocks before!”

I watched for about 3 minutes as a struggle ensued that eventually resulted in a discouraged slump against the rock face. “Are you ready to listen,” I asked? Somewhat reluctantly the climb continued following the prescribed course.

That night as I reflected on the day’s events I thought, how many times does God have to bring us to the point that He asks, “Are you ready to listen?”

How often are we like a child struggling to get up the rock?

  1. We Think We Know Better Than God

My concern in pointing the way up the rock was not that I questioned the ability or strength of my grandchildren, my concern was for the safety of someone I loved. My way was the safest way up the rock to reduce the risk of falling.

God’s plan for our lives is set in place to give someone He loves the greatest chance of making it safely home one day. His way is not always risk free, or without scrapes and bruises, but it will always be in our best interest to follow it.

Proverbs 12:14 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

  1. We Think We Can Do It On Our Own

One of the greatest mistakes we could make in this life is to think that we can do anything on our own. We face needless struggles and frustration because we believe we are able to be independent.

Regardless of where we go or what we do, we will never escape our need for God and for community. Those who try will always wind up in a tough spot.

  1. We Don’t Care What God Has To Say

At the root of the issue on the rocks that day was an unwillingness to listen.

“Most Christians don’t hear God’s voice because we’ve already decided we aren’t going to do what He says.”  A. W. Tozer.

Can we be transparent enough to confess that sometimes the trouble and struggles we face come from the fact that we just don’t care what God has to say about our situation?

rock1After all, we have climbed rocks before haven’t we?

But we are blessed in the knowledge that regardless of how smart, how independent, and how unwilling we are to listen, God will never leave or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)

He will always be there to guide us, direct us and lead us, but only when we are ready to listen.

What has God been trying to tell you? Are you ready to listen?

Do We Question God’s Will?

“Resist questioning His Will.” The words seemed to scream off the page at me.

Of course my pious Christian response was, “I would never question God’s Will.” But any Christian who has ever struggled with the “why” question, has done so.

“Why did my wife have to get cancer?”Will2

“Why didn’t You heal my father?” “Why did my child have to die?” “Why didn’t You…”

How great would it be if the Christian life was always like a Southern Gospel Song? But we have to acknowledge that there are times when following Christ can be difficult at best.

It is in those questioning times we ask, “Does God really care? Is His plan for my life really good?” As we said, there are times that we all question the will of God. If not there will be!

Three possible reasons we question His Will:

  1. Stubbornness

As Christians we have all said the words, “God’s knows best!” But at the end of the day, most of us want what we want regardless of the consequences.

I remember the first time I watched someone fishing for Blue Crabs. All that is needed to catch Blue Crabs is a piece of string and a chicken neck. The fisherman tied the chicken neck on the string and threw it out into the water. Soon the string began to move. Very slowly the man began to pull the string in. At the end of the string was a crab with the chicken neck firmly in its grasp. The crab stubbornly held onto the chicken neck unwilling to let it go at any cost.

All the crab had to do to continue living, was to let go of the chicken neck. Will1 Many of us question the will of God because we are stubbornly holding on to our own version of a chicken neck! We are willing to choose the bondage of our own desires over the freedom that is to be found in God’s Will!

  1. Selfishness

Selfishness is first cousin of stubbornness. So often we are like the seagulls in “Finding Nemo”, our favorite word is, “Mine!” We all want more!

We struggle with God’s Will because so often, He will ask us to accept what we envision as being less, when He is actually preparing us for what is greater!

The Rich Young Ruler in Luke 18 was not able to follow Christ because He was unwilling to surrender the riches that were his security.

Our selfishness emboldens us to hold tightly to something that God’s Will may be asking us to surrender.

  1. Pride

Pride deceives us into believing that we know better than God. Will3

I’m not going to dig any deeper here because it is more convicting than I want to deal with at this point!

So how do we break these traits that cause us to question God’s Will?

Faith

Trying to define faith can be kind of like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall.

Romans 4:21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

Simply put – faith is believing that God will do what He has said He will do. Search the Bible for what God has said He will do in your life and accept it as truth.

Trust

It’s hard to trust when we don’t understand. But isn’t that the essence of trust?

Trust means that we truly believe the One to Whom trust is given has our best interests at heart.

Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Write down three areas of your life where you need to apply faith and trust. How will you apply the verses above in each of those areas?

When God Lets You Down

We have probably all experienced those times when God did not “seem” to come through for us.

Good1If you have been a part of the church culture for long you have heard the slogan, “God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good.” But we have to acknowledge that there are times when the verses and quaint sayings don’t match the reality that is in front of us.

We recently went through the agonizing process of closing down a church plant that we had worked on tirelessly for over eight years. For the final six months we did everything we could to keep it open. God’s response to all the prayers, naming, claiming and circling verses, was deafening silence.

And then we read this: Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

How do we respond when we know in our hearts that it isn’t true, but for all practical purposes, it seems like God has let us down?

1.     Talk To Instead Of Listening To Yourself

The idea is to drown out the deceptive voice of Satan who is searching your heart for a foothold to breed doubt in your mind.

Our heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. If what comes out of it goes unchecked, it will eventually drive our thoughts and actions. When we dwell on those corrupted thoughts, they can quickly turn to bitterness.

Deceitful thoughts need to be replaced by:

Quoting or reading Scripture to ourselves. The best thing to replace a lie with is the truth.

Rebuking wrong thoughts. We need to tell ourselves verbally that we will not listen to the lies that our hearts generate.

Using a visual reminder. In my office I have a picture of a sewer cover. The picture is there to remind me that in the flesh, the thoughts and intents of my heart are toxic, and like a sewer, there is no reason to go looking for what is down there.

2.     Focus On Attributes Over Attitude

When our heart is adrift we need to refocus on what God is, rather than what we perceive Him to be in our disappointment.

When we feel that God has let us down, more than ever before we need to be in the Scriptures.

“You need to read your Bible”, sounds like one of those Christianese sayings, but Scripture alone is the greatest weapon we have in this battle. The Bible, not our emotions, has to be what defines God for us.

To find the attributes of God (what He truly is), read Psalms, read Psalms and then read Psalms!

3.     Praise Over Pity

Psalm 63:3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.

Good2When we feel God has let us down, the most unnatural thing we can do is praise Him. Truthfully, we just don’t feel it.

A wise man once said, “Say it until you believe it.” When praise is continually on our lips, it will eventually find it’s way into our heart.

Praise will always change our heart.

If you have read this far, it is probably because you can relate to the title of this blog. Which of these three steps do you need to begin working on right now? Pick one and set God free to work in your heart!