What stops people from moving forward? What holds them back from becoming who they are meant to be? Why do some wounds never seem to heal? Here’s one reason: constantly looking back as if one owns their past. This is nothing new to most, in fact, it’s an old lesson. Nonetheless, some haven’t learned how to let it go and move on. People love pets, and some instances, they have pet hurts that should have been sent to the pound long ago, so to speak. Why do people keep pet hurts?
Like those with natural pets (dogs, cats, gerbils, etc.), they have created an emotional bond with them. Some actually embrace pain as if it’s God’s best for them; even though it’s not. Pain is something they “understand,” and freedom from it scares them. Healing presents a different set of rules, and for some it’s become part of their identity. Pain can be used to manipulate others. It’s a way for some to gain attention, and without it, they’re afraid others may not affirm them. Of course, some owners love to show off their pets. In fact, some enter their beloved pets into dog shows, for example. They’re after the trophy, and take pride in their dog’s accomplishments. After all, it’s a reflection on them. Nothing against dog shows: it’s just an illustration. Some carry their pain like a badge of honor: “Look what I went through!” “Martyrs” are no different: “Look what they did to me!” Taking pride in your pain is not healthy, and it does not glorify God!
This brings us to one of the core issues: worth. All these things previously mentioned tie in with affirmation. Think about it: people try to use pride to fill a void only God can fill. Others feel they “deserve what they got,” and should continue to “bleed.” Basically, they’re saying they are not worthy of love, which is another reason people sabotage their relationships with others. It’s hard for them to accept even a simple act of kindness. Somehow, they have to earn it first. That’s not healthy either.
Why did God send Jesus? Love (see John 3:16-17; 1 John 4:9-10)! What are some of the things attached to His coming? Luke 4:18-19The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. He came to reconcile us to the Father, and that reconciliation includes wholeness. Isaiah 53:4-5Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. In reference to this passage, 1 Peter 2:24 says, “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by Whose stripes ye were healed.” Don’t believe the lie which says, “You’re not loved, nor are you worthy of it. Jesus is worthy, which makes you worthy to receive His love and healing!
Why do people stress each other out? Some obvious answers, in fact one might say “pat answers,” are sin and selfishness. Those who are in the world without Christ are stuck in sin, so they can’t help it. What about Christians? Aren’t we supposed to love one another? Why can’t all believers get along? Are those Christians with whom it’s hard to get along, Christians in name only? Perhaps it is a submission issue. Galatians 5:22-24But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Are cantankerous Christians un-submitted to Holy Spirit? That may sound like they’re being stubborn, but it’s not so clear and defined as that. More on that in a moment.
Contrary to popular belief, our relationships are not designed to make us happy; they’re designed to make us more Christ-like. However, the more like Jesus you are, the more joyful, peaceful, content, and yes, happy you will be. A key to a strong and healthy relationship is intentional love. The type that takes joy in the recipient for the recipient’s sake alone: God’s unconditional love, also known as AGAPE. The best way to love well is submitting to Holy Spirit, which also is a decision to be made. Fortunately, God has given us the grace to make that decision. Hebrews 4:16Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Okay, back to the submission issue. On the surface, it may appear that those who are not submissive are stubborn; but in many cases, that’s not the issue. It’s a question of trust. They flat do not fully trust God due to dreadful life experiences. In short, they’re afraid to completely submit to Him. In some instances, they blame God for some hardship or tragedy. “He could have stopped it!” Another common reason is someone who was supposed to be trustworthy, betrayed their trust. That might be a parent, grandparent or some other close relative: anyone of great influence, who should be considered safe and faithful. Of that number, some have programmed them to believe outright lies that are contrary to God’s very nature. Some have learned to hate and absolutely trust no one, and that includes God. If your trust was destroyed at an early age, it would be hard to let down your guard. If that’s you, don’t condemn yourself for any lack of trust you may be experiencing. Shame will not give you the victory! Cut yourself some slack, and allow God’s grace to be sufficient for you. Tell Him about it, it’s not sacrilegious. How are you going to have an honest relationship with Him without being open before Him? It’s not like He doesn’t know where you’re at already! As brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to give each other latitude to grow. Try not to take everything so personal. In a number of circumstances, the issue is not the issue, so to speak.
For example, where people are abrasive, they are using that abrasiveness to protect themselves from further pain. It’s called fear. It might appear like they’re rejecting you, or trying to hurt you, but they are actually pushing you away, or at least trying to keep you at bay. Why? So you can’t hurt them. Keep in mind, fruit has a root system, which means there’s more beneath the surface. On a side note, a lot of so called atheists are people who are angry with God. They’re retaliating against Him by using unbelief. As strange as it may sound, being un-submissive to God can be an act of self-preservation; even though, He’s the One Who can heal and set them free from all the garbage.
For you who are struggling with someone: be patient, and regardless of what he or she might do or say, trust Father. By submitting to Holy Spirit, you can love well. Some of the things people have gone through are traumatic, so it may take some time to see the breakthrough, but God is faithful. It might appear he or she will never change, but once they have an encounter with Jesus, his or her change will be sudden. Keep praying, and trust the Lord to complete a good work.
Have you ever found yourself wishing you could simply start over? You know, a new location where your past doesn’t’ exist. You have no reputation, because nobody knows you. The place where you can become the person who’ve always wanted to be, since you can’t become the “new you” where you live right now. There are those who are constantly moving from job to job, and perhaps state to state in hopes of a fresh start, only to find themselves back where they started. Sure, they live in a new location, have a new job and have a new set of friends; but in the end, no change. They still haven’t achieved what they set out to do. Obviously, until something changes on the inside, nothing on the outside is really going to matter all that much in the scheme of things. A person may try convince others that he is a certain way, but if he doesn’t even believe it himself, it’s merely a charade. Moreover, others know it!
Even if you could completely reinvent yourself, would you be the best version of yourself possible? As great as that version might be, who would get the glory for achieving it? How many love to brag about being the self-made man or woman? As disciples of Jesus Christ, aren’t we supposed to glorify God? Would your version of you be on par with His design? You might like the “new you,” but not as much as Version One, designed by God. Romans 8:29For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the Firstborn among many brethren. Who does the conforming, Him or us? Philippians 1:6For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. If we could do it ourselves, why would we need Jesus? Has it occurred to you that God already gave you a new beginning (see 2 Corinthians 5:17)? He already sees Version One, so ask Him to show you what He sees. The idea is to believe what He believes. Any opinion or belief that differs from His is wrong!
Perhaps, the reason He doesn’t move you to a new location with all its “advantages” is He wants to give people hope. What happens if you morph right in front of everyone who knows you, reputation and all? Do you suppose that if they see you change for the positive, they might find hope for themselves, especially if someone is down and out? More than likely, our Potter likes to use our current conditions as part of the molding process. To be sure, He may very well move people to a different location; nonetheless, those moves are often connected to an assignment. Having said that, it would behoove each of us to stay open to any such changes. The bottom line is leave the location to Him, and give hope to those who surround you now.
Your change could be accelerated. How so? By believing what God says. If you believe you can be changed, or if you believe you cannot be changed, you’re correct. Do not confuse that statement with the positive mental attitude jargon which is the counterfeit of the renewal of the mind. The more we believe what He says, the more our thinking and behavior will conform to His vision of us. If you do not believe old things are past as stated in 2 Corinthians 5:17, you may very well find yourself working to become new. That my friend is dead works. On the other hand, when you realize that you are His masterpiece, created for good works, the real you will emerge along with all the good stuff. Ephesians 2:8-10For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
As you are changed from glory to glory, you will also find your living conditions changing as well. You will actually begin to shift the environment in which you live, because He is changing the environment within you. Being made new in Jesus Christ is far superior to reinventing yourself!
Knowing something needs to be done, and knowing how to get it done are two different things. How something is done determines the quality of the outcome. Simply taking action is not always the best option. While it is true that in some situations, overthinking and procrastinating accomplishes nothing, acting without wisdom can be outright devastating. Whether it’s something mechanical in the physical realm, or it’s relational on personal level, great damage can be done when it’s done incorrectly. Trying to move forward with missing information can actually move things backward. That means a hurried response may very well be counterproductive. Being reactive or impulsive can be costly! We cannot afford to allow even the most urgent situation to move us before acquiring the much needed wisdom to respond correctly! “But you don’t understand, my situation is dire!” That may very well be, but much needed wisdom can come faster than a twinkling of an eye, if you take time to ask. James 1:5But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. “I don’t have time to pray.” You can ask quickly; God can keep up. You just have to let go of the control.
When you ask God for wisdom, keep this in mind: things don’t always make sense when you don’t have all the information. Obviously, He has all the information, for He is all-knowing (Omniscient); nonetheless, He may not tell you everything. Whether you know what He knows or not; God wants you to simply trust Him. This is especially true if He asks you to do something that makes no sense to you whatsoever. There are times we are not in a position to be able to handle knowing everything involved. As people jokingly say, “If God told me everything, I’d mess things up.” There may be an element of truth to that statement. For example, there is a part in many of us that doesn’t like discomfort. Knowing discomfort is on the horizon, may cause us to veer off track, because self-preservation kicked into gear. Maturity will deny the self, pick up its cross and follow Jesus (see Matthew 16:24-25); however, sometimes we have some growing to do before He reveals some things ahead of time. Jesus even said to His disciples, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12). Proverbs 3:5-8Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones. There may be times when He does indeed lead us and it seems to contradict the Bible. To be sure, He will never contradict His Word because He will never contradict Himself. Perhaps, what is at issue is that we don’t have a proper understanding of what it says, or we are missing other verses of Scripture that will bring proper clarity. Ask Jesus to reveal it to you in the Bible, should you ever encounter such a thing. The beautiful thing about God is that He is a loving Father Who will put us on the right track if we happen to get off track. We simply have to stay teachable. He is faithful!
Frustration and anxiety comes when we try to move full steam ahead on our own. A life of faith is meant to relational in nature. Conversing with Abba (Daddy/Father) about any given situation will lead us to the right course of action, or non-action for that matter. Hebrews 4:10 helps in putting things in proper perspective: For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Remember, Jesus did what He saw the Father doing and said what He heard Him speak. It was all relational. Getting the heart of Abba is paramount in our approach to life. Walking by faith pleases Him (see Hebrews 11:6). Romans 10:17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Without belaboring the point, you would be surprised how much wisdom is available and on tap by simply staying in a place of communion with Abba. And with that, peace!