Originally published Friday, 03 January 2014.
Recently I have been thinking, "is this the best life can get?"
Probably because I am in transition.
I usually tend to think along these lines when I am struggling to find my identity. Is it in my relationship status? Job title? Mental health? Church community?
When some or all of these things are lacking I tend to go off the deep end.
I am sure you can relate.
When I was working at my dream job, I thought--this is the best life can get. I struggled with letting go. With quitting. I didn't want to be known as a quitter. Then I experienced sexual harassment at work and severe panic attacks that put me the hospital. I was forced to move on.
Then, I was flabbergasted when God brought Marc into my life. I felt so unworthy. Unprepared. It was God's grace wrapped up in a tall drink of water. I couldn't believe that he wanted to marry me.
Through Marc, God fulfilled about a decade or so worth of prayers. Then add four published books, and it's no wonder I'm thinking -- is this the best life can get?
Recently, I have started attending BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) with my mother in law. The lessons have been hitting me square in the eye. So much so that I have chickened out at least once to blog about it. I am no longer chicken. I cannot stay silent anymore. In one of the lessons it said,
"If the seed is good, why does it not take root in everyone who hears it?" Jesus' answer is that the failure belongs not to the sower or to the seed, but to the soil onto which the seed falls. Therefore, the disciple or Christian worker must not be too discouraged. Only a minority will receive the gospel of Jesus, and only a minority of the minority will be abundantly fruitful.
Oh my word. I have been so discouraged that my efforts to publish my last book haven't gone as planned. I even went as far as saying my dream died.
But maybe it didn't.
Maybe (as I have been suspecting) I have been too hard on myself. Maybe it's not about placing any blame. If God has called me to sow seeds, that's all I'm called to do. It's not my job to make them flourish.
Satan schemes to mingle false with true. Satan is so effective he could deceive believers of all ages by counterfeit people, methods and doctrines had Jesus not opened them to this mystery...It should encourage us that although no one enters the world as good soil, the wonderful grace of God is able to change even the hardest heart. When God gives the desire to respond, that life becomes good soil.
I have been discouraged that all my efforts haven't produced a harvest that I failed to overlook Jesus' first parable of in Matthew 13.
It is not up to me.
Have you realized in your own life that the good is often the enemy of the best? Even a good life and good works may mask a lack of true faith...Are you so involved in committee meetings and good works that you have no time to worship the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ?
Every time I think this is the best life can get, I am in danger of living in the good. Jesus didn't come so I could be a good person. Let me say that again.
Jesus didn't suffer at the hands of men, die a criminals death, and rise again on the third day so that I could be a good person. He came to redeem me from my sin, set me free, and make me great (fruitful)!
That means you too.
Shallow people show no trace of sorrow over sin and no repentance, which always accompany true faith in Christ. Do you believe that Christ would never call you to suffer? Such a shallow heart may lack the root of true faith.
I can't believe I'm going to admit this, but I used to be a lot happier when I suffered more than I do now. It's sad to think I am easily discouraged although I suffering less. I lack true faith. I share all of this because I know I am not the only one who is feeling discouraged.
Friends, don't be afraid to suffer so God can prune the weeds of good to make you great. This is definitely not the best life can get.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me" (John 15:1-5, NIV).
Question: Has God ever allowed suffering to help you see this is not the best life can get? What happened and what was the outcome?
*Quotations taken from BSF® Lesson 13 Notes (Matthew Series III)
*Previously publlished on ReneeFisher.com.
[Photo: kevlar, Creative Commons]