August 16, 2004
Encouragement for Today
Van Walton - Speaker Team Member, Director of Spanish Ministries
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2 (NAS)
Are you easily disappointed? I am. Yesterday, as I sat in the pew I just couldn't connect with the Sunday morning message. I was disappointed. Then I caught myself evaluating the music. Why don't we sing hymns anymore? They tell stories and describe God's glory. We hadn't sung any songs I knew. I was disappointed. I stepped up to the ministry table to sign up for Bible study. Everyone was busy; no one spoke to me. I was disappointed. Too late, my son asked me to run to the store for supplies he needed for a project. I thought I had told him several times to begin his projects in a timely manner. He had given me his word that he would be more diligent in the future. Now here he was making the same mistake. He had disappointed me. My neighbor didn't let me know that she was going to the hospital for surgery. I could've helped with the children. That disappointed me. Come to think about it, I have been disappointed a lot recently. My son's coach didn't play him as much as I thought was fair! My friend said something that was unkind. My husband has been working a lot lately, traveling to foreign places. What is it about people and life's experiences that leave me feeling empty?
After contemplating my dilemma, I realized that I had not read the road signs correctly. You see I was looking to my friends and family, my neighbors and intimate acquaintances to take me into a place of contentment and happiness. Most of the time I am fulfilled after a time of fellowship with others, but too often I am left just plain disappointed. Sound familiar?
As we walk life's pathways, we take our focus off the final destination, allowing our eyes and expectations to fall on the road signs instead of the goal. We allow the road signs to confuse us.
Church is a road sign to discipleship and a more intimate relationship with Christ. It is not a perfect place nor is it meant to take the place of our devotion to God. There are some Sundays when I forget life's cares and my attendance erases the unfortunate situations of the past week. I can't expect that it will always fill my empty places. Sermons are road signs to God's Word but not every sermon is going to touch my heart the way intimate moments alone in the Word can. Music and the arts are road signs that point me in the direction of worship, coloring for me images of Jesus' walk on earth and of heavenly throngs worshiping at the throne of God. Not all songs or paintings are going to point me in the direction of the savior. Sometimes total silence in darkness brings me closer to God's throne. When people let me down, I need to realize that they were not placed in my life to fill my needs. Prayer, asking God to urge me down the path, past the road signs, is what I need. I can look at the road signs. I can be given direction by those signs, but I cannot stop there.
The next time I'm disappointed by my circumstances and assigning blame to those who have disillusioned me, I need to look beyond the road signs. I need to find the well lighted path that leads to God's place. There I will not be frustrated. I will be fully satisfied.
My prayer for today:
Forgive me, Father for putting my trust and hope in the things of this world and not in You. Remind me that I will always be disappointed as long as I look to others to show me the way or give me answers. You are the only one who will not disappoint.
Consider that nothing this earth has to offer, not people or events, neither institutions nor organizations, will fill your desires or needs.
Remind yourself that you are not capable of being a perfect friend, child, or parent. You would not want others to set you on a pedestal and then be discouraged because of your human imperfections.
Turn your disappointment into an opportunity to be reminded that He is your God and there is no other. This can become a time for celebration. God wants your entire attention.
What consistently disappoints you?
Why do others' actions sadden or discourage you?
What happens when you elevate people and harbor unrealistic expectations?
Human desires are like the world of the dead - there is always room for more. Proverbs 27:20 (NLT)
But thou, O Lord, art a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. Psalm 3:3 (NAS)
The Lord says, "My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Your ways are not like my ways. Isaiah 55:8 (NCV)
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:8 (RSV)
And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (NRS)
P31 Woman Magazine
At Home with God by Sharon Jaynes
Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes
Originally published Monday, 16 August 2004.