Back in 1872, when I first started the Bouville Diarist, I had in mind something different, A change of approach, Something fresh, exciting, uplifting.
To say I have wrestled with the right approach is an understatement. Rather like saying North Korea lobbing missiles into the Sea of Japan is a bad thing.
Or we wish Iran would just leave oil tankers in the Persian Gulf alone.
Or saying a “Friends” 25th reunion TV special would just a sad, bad idea.
However, I think I know what the problem is.
I’ve been sitting at the Osseo MN Caribou for a couple of hours now. (Not to be confused with Osseo WI. If I were there, I’d be tucking into a slap of homemade pie at the Norske Nook right about now.)
Sitting in front of me were a young lady and her family, discussing future college plans with an advisor of some sort. (Just so you don’t think I’m some kind of creeper, I put in my ear buds and cranked up the tunes so as not to overhear their conversation.)
Now and again I would look up from my laptop screen to see this kid grinning from ear-to-ear. She was clearly filled with joy at future prospects of education and life. Excited.
Anticipating good things.
Filled with hope.
It’s funny (odd, not ha-ha) how we have our plans and schemes, our hopes and dreams… And, inevitably, life leaps out in front of us. We get tripped up. We lose our place on our map. We confront our enemy.
To paraphrase Walt Kelly’s cartoon character Pogo (remember him?), “I have met the enemy. And he is us.”
How often do we discover we are each our own worst enemy? I can tell you I recognize him. He’s the one who tells me my writing stinks. The one who told me my drawings was no good because the local traditional art guild said my style didn’t fit in. (Let’s face it, I’m no Omer “Salty” Seaman. (My Wabash Valley homies will get the reference. Everyone else, look him up on the Google. He really was talented!!)
We are our own worst enemy every time someone maligns us, detracts us, derails us with criticism or just plain makes fun of us – and we allow it. When let the slings and arrows penetrate into our souls, we miss what God may be trying to tell us.
You see, God has created each of us with a purpose. We see this when He told Jeremiah “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5, ESV).
David knew it, too: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-14, ESV).
We are each individually wonderfully designed and created by our Father God, with a God-given purpose in life – a purpose to glorify the Lord and bless those He places in our lives.
We aren’t made to please the world. Friends, we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, ESV). Paul warns us:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2, ESV
The truth is we need to expect a bit of abuse from the world. As Christ followers, we aren’t intended t fit in. Acceptance by the world is not a prize worth chasing. So, go ahead. Be you.
Be who God created you to be.
The next time you begin to feel low and down trodden, useless and ill equipped, do these five things:
- Stop. Stop telling yourself lies about yourself. Stop feeding your inner critic, your worst enemy. If need be get in front of a mirror and physically tell yourself, “Stop!”
- Pray. Ask God to open your eyes to Him. Ask God to show you His will. Ask God to reveal Himself – and His Truth – to you. And be prepared for His will to be less about what you do and more about why and how.
- Read. Grab your Bible and start reading it. Fire up the Google and search for verses about God’s purpose.
- Write. Grab a journal, a notepad, an old napkin. Jot down what you learn from your reading. Record what you felt God spoke into your heart when you prayed. (If you don’t feel like He spoke to you, don’t sweat it. He often answers our prayers in unexpected ways, and always in His time.)
- Remember. Think about what God has done for you throughout your life. Ponder His goodness with much gratitude for all He has done. It may sound trite and old, but count your blessings. God has filled you with more than you know. When we’re feeling low, it can be a struggle to see the good Jesus brings. Just look. He’s there.
Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks, or says. Expect the world to not embrace your thoughts and beliefs. Sometimes – and this is far sadder – you can’t expect Christians to accept you. When religion or misguided leadership get in the way, remember Jesus didn’t call you be abused by self-serving individuals. Shake it off and move on, following Jesus’ lead.
Forgive and love. Don’t begrudge. And keep doing what God said to do. No matter how big the task may seem, keep on keeping on. Surround yourself with others who will support you. Remember Jesus never called us to religion. As a matter of fact, it was the religious who gave Him such a hard time. No, we are called to relationship.
To be filled with joy for the glorious future ahead – on this earth and beyond to eternity.
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The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.
“Paperback Writer” Songwriters: John Lennon, Paul McCartney © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC. For non-commercial use only.