Friday, June 25, 2010

How To Move On

I was listening to my IPod yesterday while mowing grass and U2's "Stuck In The Moment" started to play. It's not my favorite U2 song (mostly for the music) but the lyrics are good. Bono sings in his customary voice, "You've got to get yourself together; you've got stuck in a moment and you can't get out of it". That's happened to all of us at some point along the way. Life hits us hard with a job loss, a failed relationship, a health concern - whatever. And we get...stuck. We don't know what to do. I kind of feel like an "expert" in this area, but only because of a lot of trials and errors. Over time I've been able to develop an Approach on How To Move On (although I haven't perfected it yet).

1. Acceptance.

Now this isn't to be confused with hopeless resignation. But when you get "stuck" there comes a point and time where you accept your circumstances in life. So often we can't change them. You may not get that job back. You may not get the girl back. You may not get the full measure of your health back. But in any event - it's happening for a reason. Now, it could be judgment or chastening. It could be God trying to grow you. It could appear to be unfair, even wrong. But if you believe in the Sovereignty of God then you know that He always has a plan. Nothing catches Him by surprise. He knows the end from the beginning. And whatever the reason is for your going through what you're going through - accept it as coming from Him for His purpose AND He always gets the glory. I can't help but think of Joseph in the Old Testament, when - in his case - he really wasn't doing anything wrong, but he was sold into slavery by his brothers. It took a little while, but he ultimately became one of the most powerful men in the world - even helping to save the lives of the same brothers who sold him into slavery as well as the rest of his family during a horrible famine. Of his unjust slavery he had this to say, "Man meant it for evil; but God meant it for good". Not that is acceptance.

2. Alignment.

If you're able to get over the rather large hurdle of accepting your circumstances as only the beginning of what God is going to do through your circumstances, then your are free to align yourself with Him in the journey. This is extremely important. So often when something bad happens, we think we have to go and fix it - as if God is completely unaware or incapable of handling what's going on in our lives. As Christians we love to try to fix things on our own. We try to figure it all out - find a way to take care of it. But that is not the plan, and if you or I do that during these moments in our life, we'll only make it worse. "But what is God trying to do? What is he saying to me? Where is He!?" He is in you, over you, all around you. And as Philippians says, "It's God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure". Do you want God to work in you - bringing about His will and His good pleasure? Then let Him. Get some bruises on your knees from prayer. Get some sky on your hands from praise. Get some callouses on your fingers from clinging to Him and His Word. Align yourself with Him and what it is He's trying to do. As the saying goes, "When you can't trace His hand, trust His heart".

3. Arrival.

When you have accepted where you are right now in your circumstance as from Him and align yourself with Him knowing that He's going to take your through - then you ultimately will arrive at the place He wants you to be. "I being in the way the Lord led me." This episode of life you are experiencing isn't going to last forever. I suppose there are things that happen in this life that have no complete remedy in this life, but there is certainly a remedy to be found in the life that awaits the Christian after our journey here is over. If nothing else, Heaven awaits and that is enough. But so often in our journey here God is trying to bring us to a destination, and that destination always has our good and His glory in mind. Ultimately it is a place of joy. "Weeping lasts for the night, but joy comes in the morning." God has a place where He is taking us, and because He is leading us - we will arrive safely. I love the King James Version rendering of Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to bring you to an expected end." Be encouraged. You will be arriving at your destination soon.

4. Appreciation.

Appreciation, thanksgiving, praise, gratitude - all of these words are an obvious result of having gone through your circumstance and making it to the other side. Safe and sound - still surrounded by God. Even as I write this I'm thinking about Jesus and the disciples in Mark 4:35-41, 

"35That day when evening came, He said to His disciples, 'Let us go over to the other side.' 36Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat. There were also other boats with Him. 37A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke Him and said to Him, 'Teacher, don't you care if we drown?' 39He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, 'Quiet! Be still!' Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40He said to His disciples, 'Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?' 41They were terrified and asked each other, 'Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!'" 

Now, at this point the disciples did not have the appreciation that they needed, even though Jesus promised them the other side. But there's a storm! He's in the boat. But he's asleep! Then you rest, too. If Jesus is in the boat, and He's promised the other side - then you will arrive safe and sound with Him, come hell or high water. And don't worry about the storms that arise and rock the boat. Because He is the maker of the storm. These things happen to prove our faith or to prove we need more faith. Wouldn't it be awesome if we could be still and know peace and quiet in the midst of life's storms? We don't always go through the storms well, like the disciples. We need to move from a place of fear and terror during our storm to a place of faith and trust - which will produce appreciation, thanksgiving, praise, and gratitude when we reach the promised "other side".

I don't know where you're at on the way, but we all get "stuck in a moment", and more often then not we "can't get out of it". Which is true - we can't, but He can. Paul sums it up best in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, when speaking of Christ, 

"9But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

And that's the approach that I (try to) take when I find that I need to move on. It sure beats being stuck.

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