Putting Your Best Foot Forward
Tuesday was my 44th birthday. Instead of a party though, I found myself on my way to see my doctor. Many of you may recall I had a health scare a couple of years ago that has left me with a debilitated deformed foot. I spent about three months in a wheelchair at the time. Unfortunately, my “good foot” has now developed the same condition in the last week as I learned I have five broken bones in it and must wear a cast for the next three months while confined to a wheelchair or walker. Again.
So I spent my 44th birthday this week getting CT scans, fittings for a cast, and procuring a wheelchair. Again.
I started having flashbacks to two years ago and how much of an ordeal that was. And in honesty, I got pretty down about going through yet another setback. It's easy when faced with a long-term hardship to slip over to the "dark side." And if you are not careful, you'll stake out your cave and line its walls with depression and negativity. You'll decorate with bitterness, anger and frustration.
Becky and I have experienced so much together in our life already raising a mentally and physically disabled son. We have experienced sorrow and suffering by the sovereignty of God. And even as a pastor, sometimes I have to catch myself from going over to what I call “the dark side.”
As a result I want to share 5 quick things that I focus on that help me.
- Focus on serving God and others. When I get over my “it’s all about me” mentality, and remember that I was created and exist to glorify God, it changes my whole perspective. I realize that all my struggles are ultimately part of his plan to use my life and he will use them to accomplish his greater purposes.
2. God is telling his story, not mine. I can’t look at “snapshots” of my life and try to figure out what God is ultimately doing. God is telling a story a that started long before me and will end long after me- I’m just privileged to play my part.
3. Don’t go the dark side without a lifeline. My wife and I have recognized that sometimes you can’t avoid periods of depression in real life. We have made a pact that when one of us struggles, the other will stay strong and be there to “throw a lifeline” to the other. Surround yourself with friends and loved ones who will be there to do the same for you.
4. Control your thoughts. Take every thought captive and line it up with the truths of God’s word. If it is contradictory to what you know to be true about your identity in Christ, reject it as a lie from the devil.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) 5. Celebrate and remember the good times. Throughout years of exile and persecution, the children of Israel would always make it a point to take time for festivals and feasts remembering the good things God had done for them in the past. We tend to focus so heavily on the negative things in our current situation or past experience that we easily lose sight of the countless times God has delivered us and provided for us.
It’s not like Jesus didn’t warn us. He not only warned us of hard times, but in the same breath declared our ultimate triumph because of his ultimate triumph. So it ultimately comes down to our choice. Do we focus on our troubles, or do we focus on the fact that Christ has overcome!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
I know which one I choose.