"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." ~ James 1:2-4 (NIV)
I learn so much from our team members at Simmons. Many of you have shared thoughts and experiences that have helped me grow so much in the last 3 years. I don’t know about you but my understanding about faith and discipleship is that it is a life-long process. I hope to be 80 years old and still growing in my understanding and love for God and His people.
I was at the Home Office on Friday and Miss Karen pulled me aside and was so excited to share something with me and maybe use it for a blog post someday. She spoke about a phrase that has been a theme for her week, “Simple, but not easy.”
Whether it is our money (saving it), our bodies (losing weight), or our faith (deepening it), we tend to over-complicate things so often. She said, “It would be simple to put a $20 bill aside out of each paycheck, by the end of the year you would have over $1000 – but it’s not easy. It is simple to lose weight…eat a little less and exercise a little more – but it’s not easy. I am trying to gain strength walking with my prosthetic leg, so in my exercise, I have tried to take 50 more steps than I did the day before…seems simple, but it’s not easy. But it is worth it. The same goes for our faith. It is simple to merely be a fan of Jesus, but truly following Christ – that’s not always easy.”
I’ve thought about that conversation all day, and I think there is a lot of truth behind those words. How do I take a goal, discern the challenges that it might bring, and still decide to act on them? What are barriers that keep us from going through with our goals? I look at any of those goals (saving money, losing weight, deepening faith) and see those as extremely beneficial and worthwhile. But when it comes down to action, and we are met with challenges, adversity, and/or it is no longer easy – man, sometimes we just give up.
So how do we overcome this obstacle? We first find our strength in God. I have tried to do all three of those goals listed before on my own and have flaked out many times. But those times that I have asked for courage, for endurance from God, I am always amazed at how encouraged I become to continue towards that goal.
I have learned to ask myself three crucial questions regarding any goal I set:
- “What are some obstacles that I might face along the way towards this goal?”
- “What is at risk if I give up?”
- “What might I gain by putting in the effort to achieve this goal?”
Last year there was a group of folks that wanted to set a goal to read through the Bible. We put together a reading plan and made a goal of reading it in 90 days. I asked them these same questions before engaging in this challenge. At the end of the 90 days many of us were able to finish the entire Bible. The plan was simple – read 30-40 minutes a day…but it was not easy. But the rewards were so worth it!
So what is it for you? I know it’s not January 1st, when we usually set goals for the year. But I’ve always believed that the best day to make a goal and go for it was yesterday! Today is just as good, but don’t wait until tomorrow for you’ll be another day behind.
There are some awesome and inspiring quotes on the Life Support page that I want to share with you. There are many more that you should check out when you have a free minute, but I wanted to share these with you today.
“Often times God demonstrates His faithfulness in adversity by providing for us what we need to survive. He does not change our painful circumstances. He sustains us through them.” ~ Charles Stanley
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”~ Annie Dillard