Some things take time…
Making a true friend
Bonding with a child for life
Creating a solid marriage
Recovering from a major loss
Ingraining personal discipline
Overcoming the power of an addiction
Becoming an expert
Developing a close walk with God
In our fast food, microwave world, some things can’t be rushed. Take time for the things that matter most.
What else takes time?
This is a guest post by my wife Cheryl. She’s an amazing pastor’s wife. Every church where I’ve been pastor has loved her…probably more than me. They line up on Sunday to give her a hug. By popular request, she’s written a few guest posts for me (and other pastors and pastor wives.) I’ll share some of them in the coming weeks.
When They Talk About Your Husband
I am frequently asked by other pastor’s wives how I respond when people talk bad about my husband…either to me or to others who repeat it to me. (And they do.) I’ll have to admit…this issue is a tough one for me.
No matter what I was taught growing up-sticks and stones may break your bones but words WILL hurt your heart.
And let’s face it-some people are just mean…even IN the church.
This has been one of the hardest things for me to deal with as a pastor’s wife. It became even more evident when we surrendered to full time vocational ministry and became church planters. Our biggest critics and spreaders of untruthful things were people within the church. My husband has to remind me often that these people aren’t the “church”…the church is the body of Christ…He wouldn’t hurt my husband that way…they are just people doing a poor job portraying the church. It is still hard at times for me to understand…after all…aren’t all Christians…those who profess Jesus Christ as our Saviour…on the same team with the same end goal?
But, it happens in the established church too. I know when people are complaining about changes the church is proposing that many times they are ultimately complaining about him…my husband. My best friend. And, it seems so many times they misunderstand his intentions, they don’t know his true heart, and they say things out of their own personal bias, that have little or nothing to do with Biblical truth. (Wow! That was hard to admit…but so true.)
As hard as it is…when others speak negatively about my spouse…even to me…which I’ve never really understood…I have to step back…take a deep breath…maybe two…and remind myself of TRUTH. Every one has an opinion…I don’t have to agree with it or even like it…but it is “their” opinion. My first instinct is to lash out and defend my spouse…and I think there are times when we need to speak truth if the person is willing to hear it…but more often than not I think we are called to realize we live in an often sad world…where it is sometimes easier to be critical of others than consider what might be the motivation in our own heart.
I’ve learned the hard way, I can either focus on the negative and hurtful things said OR I can take the high road and as difficult as it may be at times…choose to forgive and release this person (s) to God. Choosing unforgiveness has a greater hold on me and honestly I’d rather spend my energy elsewhere. I’m not saying it is always easy…I’m just saying I’ve learned the hard way that I am only accountable for “me” and how “I” respond.
It won’t break you -
Unless you allow it to do so. You may feel it has, but failure doesn’t have to define you. The choice of how you respond to failure is always up to you.
It might just make you -
You will learn more from failure than from everything going right for you. Guaranteed. Every time. I promise. The best principles I’ve learned in life came from times of failure in my life.
What have you learned about failure?
“I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. Genesis 46:3 NIV
Jacob was obedient to God because he shifted from fear to faith.
If you recall the story, Jacob would have to leave for Egypt, a foreign land, in search of food and to see his son Joseph again, whom he thought was dead. It could have meant death for him and his remaining sons too. And, he was old. Past the prime risk-taking years. He had faced so many trials and disappointments in life…many he brought on himself…but at the end of his life, Jacob was willing to face his fears and walk by faith again.
In fact, he had a history of times he moved from fear to faith.
All of us will have fear. Fear began with the fall of mankind and, since we still live in a fallen world, we are still subject to fear. We shouldn’t be surprised when we are afraid when facing something that seems beyond our abilities or when the outcome of the situation is unknown. That’s natural in a fallen world.
To counter our nature we must do something spiritual. We must place our faith in something…really SOMEONE…who has the power and ability to accomplish what appears to be the impossible…the unnatural. That someone, of course, is the Creator God. The controller of nature. When we place our trust in God, He takes our inabilities and turns them into His abilities. Then, working all things towards an ultimate good, He works through our situations and circumstances to bring about His final plan. Our job in all this is to be obedient…in spite of our fears…by placing our complete faith in Him.
What is that fear that has you stagnant right now?
Perhaps you need to move from fear to faith!
Do something which may seem unnatural, depending on your circumstances. Turn your fear into a complete and total trust in God. Then watch Him do His miracle work and transform your situation into a glorious tribute to His power and strength.
Let me give you an easy 4 steps to begin this process:
1)Admit your fear
2)Renew your faith
4)Repeat steps 1 through 4
Again. And again. And again.
I wrote a blog post on winning back the heart of a wife several years ago. (Read it HERE.) The post was written in reponse to the dozens of times I had given the same advice to men who had hurt their wives in some severe way…mostly affair type situations…where it seems the wives heart has left the relationship.
When men find themselves in this type situation they feel hopeless. When the marriage begins to unravel around them…when the wife is ready to quit…even when it was the man’s fault…he often is finally broken and willing to do whatever it takes, but doesn’t know what to do.
That post has been Googled thousands of times. It is obviously a needed subject. As a result of that post, I have heard from dozens of other men and women (mostly men) who have done something dumb and want to win back their spouse’s trust. (Some of them even still comment on the previous post.)
Building on that original post, I want to address how to regain trust in general. This is advice I would give to any relational setting. It could be a marriage, a family, friend or even a business relationship. Regaining trust is difficult…just being candid…but the process usually follows a similar path.
Here are 4 steps to rebuild trust in a relationship:
Ask forgiveness – If you did wrong…apologize. If your aren’t sure…apologize. Even if you don’t think you were completely in the wrong, the other person may…a sincere apology is a great place to start. Being humble enough to admit fault is a trust-building characteristic. (Some are experts at saying “I’m sorry”, but it stops at that. That’s not enough to rebuild trust…keep reading.)
Do the right things – Whatever you did to offend the relationship. Stop. Stop now. Quit. Never again. Get help if you need to, but you have to do the right thing to counteract the wrong things. You may need to learn how and don’t be afraid to ask the person you offended or get professional help. Relationships are too important not to take them this seriously. Do the right things.
Keep doing the right things – Over and over again. Trust builds over time and experience of doing things which are trustworthy. This will require discipline on your part, and may not even be received well at first, but doing the right things is still the right thing to do. A mature response to life is to do the right thing even when wrong is easier or even expected.
Be patient – Trust always takes longer than the one seeking to rebuild trust thinks it should. Always. Trust has to work through emotions that have been severely injured. That doesn’t happen in an instant unless God intervenes. Most of the time He seems to let them heal naturally. Be patient with that process. It’s worth it. (By the way, this appears to be the hardest step for people from whom I hear.)
Now I realize the obvious next question. What happens if the offended party doesn’t reciprocate? That’s probably the subject of another post, such as 7 Things Forgiveness is Not, but know this: You are not responsible for the actions of another. You are responsible for your actions. And, attempting to rebuild trust is the right thing to do.
Any testimonies of how long it took someone to rebuild trust? Share and help others.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1 NIV
When I was a little boy, air conditioning was a luxury. Most of the schools didn’t have it and many of our houses were without it. Still it seems like we spent more time outdoors then than we do now. In the summer, we would go to my grandparents quite often. When the time came for homemade ice cream, everyone would gather around, bowls in hand, and head for their favorite shade tree. No matter how hot it was, with ice cream in hand and a shade tree above, the weather was always just right.
That is what I think of when I think of the “shadow of the Almighty”.
Resting within the protection of God’s glory, I find peace from the burdens of the world.
No, my problems don’t always disappear, but the journey is made easier. The valleys aren’t as deep, and the mountain tops seem to last longer and come more often.
Dwelling within God’s shelter means that I trust Him even when the odds makers say I shouldn’t. It means that I choose Him over the achievements I can make on my own. It means that my life is not my own. I am bought with a price, the shed blood of Jesus, and that my home is in Heaven, where awaits for me an eternal blessing, which far outweighs the problems of this world.
My grandparents tree is no longer standing. I have air conditioning now everywhere I go. We seldom make homemade ice cream. In fact, at family gatherings now we rarely go outside. As I reflect on the good memories about that shade tree, however, I realize that the best shade I will ever experience is within the “shadow of the Almighty”.
Why don’t you rest in His shade with me for a while?
Like maybe for an eternity!
Cheryl and I were recently on an airplane flight for 2 1/2 hours. It wasn’t the longest flight we’ve been on by far, but it seemed longer than it was. We managed to get the last seat in the back corner of the plane. There was no window. No reclining to the seat and limited leg room. I realize that’s typical these days for most seats, but trust me when I say this was the worst seat I’ve ever had on an airplane and I’ve flown a bunch.
To make matters worse…The guy in front of me reclined his full 3 inches and wouldn’t sit still the entire flight.
I knew I was semi claustrophobic, but on this flight I thought I would die. I allowed myself to be psyched into a frizzy of miserableness. Cheryl tried to calm me, but I was restless.
I know it sounds extreme, and like I am a big baby, but it became that big of a deal for me at the time. I had to do something.
So, how did I survive?
Well, the way I turned an uncomfortable situation into a manageable situation was a lesson for me for other life situations. Real life situations. The kind that last longer than a 2 1/2 hour airplane flight. (Even funnier was that I read a book about a WWII POW survivor on this vacation…talk about surviving…I am a sissy! But, still…)
Here’s what I did:
Thought about destination. We were getting out of town. Somewhere exciting. Vacation. Better times ahead.
Reminded myself this was temporary. These things too shall pass.
Redirected my thoughts to something that I enjoyed thinking about. (Such as writing a blog post.) And planning a new strategy. And studying my Bible.
It made the trip more pleasant and helped me arrive in a better mood. Cheryl was happy about that.
But, as I said, it helped me process how I respond in other claustrophobic times of life.
When you feel stuck. The walls feel like they are closing in around you. You are miserable in your current circumstances.
Here’s what you do:
Destination – Think about where you’re going. Better days ahead. If you’re a believer…a follower of Christ…you are living with some promises. (If you’re not on the right path…redirect here.)
Temporary – Remember life has ups and downs. These days shall pass. And, as Paul said, even if troubles last a lifetime, these “light and momentary troubles are achieving for us a glory that far outweighs” anything of this world.
Redirect – Change your thought process. Many times what we think about determines how we feel. Again, Paul said, “whatever is pure, whatever is noble, if anything is excellent or praise worthy…think about such things”. Maybe we need to think better thoughts.
When you have a proper perspective you can sit back, relax and better enjoy the flight.
Just for fun, what’s the most miserable flight you’ve ever been on and what made it so?
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
Genesis 3:10 NIV
Fear, apart from the holy fear of God, entered the world at the fall of man. Prior to the sin of Adam and Eve they had no fear. They didn’t fear for their safety. The didn’t fear how they would provide for their family. They didn’t fear the ills of health. Cancer wasn’t a fear.
They trusted God because of their deep, intimate relationship with their creator. After sin entered the world, sin came. Destruction arrived. Chaos. Disappointment. Uncertainty. As a result, fear was ushered in also.
The fact that you are afraid, therefore, should be no surprise. If you are facing something unknown, or something you know is bigger than you, you can expect fear. It’s a very natural human reaction.
So, think for a moment… of what are you afraid?
That’s okay to admit….really…it’s even understandable. We live in a scary, mixed up world and fear is the result of the times in which we live.
I want to encourage you, however, to live counter-cultural. (That’s the way believers are to live anyway.)
Be brave! Stand strong!
First, admit you are scared! It may be the necessary step to finding the faith you need to be obedient to God’s call on your life.
Then surrender. Quit. Give up. Tell God you’re done trying. You’re finished hiding in your fears. Your public confession today is fear. Real, honest fear.
Then trust again. Renew your faith. Take a fresh and deep breath in the reality that God is on His throne. He hasn’t moved. He’s in control. And you can trust Him.
For today, live fearless. Not in your strength. If you’re like me you stink at that consistently. Live fearless in the reality that He is God. And everything is going according to His will.
For bonus points and encouragement, read Psalm 121.
Be honest, what’s your biggest fear these days?