The subtle ‘sin’

Do you know which sin is the subtle enemy of simple faith?

Materialism and greed? Anger? Lust? Hypocrisy? No. All of these sins are certainly our enemies, but none of them qualify as subtle enemies.

Stop and think. Once you decide to trust God in simple faith and allow Him complete freedom to carry out His plan and purpose in you, as well as through you, you need only to relax and count on Him to take care of things you once tried to keep under control.

From now on you won’t step in and take charge. “God is well able to handle this,” you tell yourself. Then, in a weak moment, the adversary of your soul whispers a doubt or two in your ear, like, “Hey, what if—?” If that doesn’t make you churn, he returns in the middle of the night and fertilizes your imagination with several quasi-extreme possibilities, leaving you mildly disturbed if not altogether panicked. No one can tell by looking (and you certainly wouldn’t think of telling anyone), but in place of your inward peace and simple faith, you are now immobilized by . . . what?

You guessed it, the most notorious faith killer in all of life: worry.

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25)

Being something of a wordsmith, I find the term worry fascinating, though the reality of this in our lives can be downright maddening. To begin with, the word used by Matthew (translated here as “worried”) is the Greek term merimnao. It is a combination of two smaller words, merizo, meaning “to divide,” and nous, meaning “the mind.” In other words, a person who is anxious suffers from a divided mind, leaving him or her disquieted and distracted.

Of all the biblical stories illustrating worry, none is more practical or clear than the one recorded in the last five verses of Luke 10. Let’s briefly relive it.

Jesus dropped by His friends’ home in Bethany. He was, no doubt, tired after a full day, so nothing meant more to Him than having a quiet place to relax with friends who would understand. However, Martha, one of those friends, turned the occasion into a mild frenzy. To make matters worse, Martha’s sister, Mary, was so pleased to have the Lord visit their home that she sat with Him and evidenced little concern over her sister’s anxiety attack.

As Luke tells us, “Martha was distracted with all her preparations” (Luke 10:40). We can imagine her scurrying around the kitchen, kneading dough, basting the lamb, boiling the vegetables, trying to locate her best dishes, hoping to match tablecloth and napkins, ultimately needing help to get it all ready at the proper time. But Martha didn’t have help, and that was the final straw. Irritated, exasperated, and angry, she reached her boiling point; and her boiling point led to blame. “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me” (10:40).

But Jesus was neither impressed by her busyness nor intimidated by her command. Graciously, yet firmly, He said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (10:41-42).

Worry occurs when we assume responsibility for things that are outside our control. And I love the Lord’s solution: “but only one thing is necessary.” What a classic example of simple faith!

Martha had complicated things by turning the meal into a holiday feast. Not Mary. All Mary wanted was time with Jesus . . . and He commended her for that. Mary’s simple faith, in contrast to her sister’s panic, won the Savior’s affirmation.

Originally posted by Charles Swindoll at Insight.org 

life is not a sprint, it is a marathon…

Some friends asked me why do I love running. I don’t. A year ago, I was going through challenging times in my life due to an episode of my bipolar disorder. The effects of my illness combined with my weaknesses have caused a lot of pain in my family. I was becoming hopeless and thinking of just giving up. One day, I heard a voice in my head, “Run, Lorraine, Run”. You know, it’s like that film Forest Gump but I kinda knew it was a whisper from God. I didn’t have any experience in running and I’ve never tried a 5k or a 10k or a half marathon let alone a 26 mile run but I registered anyway for the LA marathon. There were thoughts of the unknown. Am I gonna last? Am I really gonna finish it? I was anxious a little bit because it’s my first time and I did not train the way I should. I only slept approximately 4 hours the night before the run, my thoughts were racing. I’m just so blessed to have my loving husband who supported me since the very beginning of my training.  photo (5) It was a very cold morning and good thing the organizers provided a heated tent. I was comforted seeing a sea of people lined up for this marathon. I had full energy and unexplainable excitement. The first 10 miles were both exciting and amusing. There were live entertainment bands plus hundreds of strangers cheering for us. I posed for the official cameramen while running. I drank liquids to get hydrated when I had the chance and took energy gels as I ran non-stop. After finishing the 20th mile, I was relieved and surprised that I was still running and my energy was still there. However, as I was I approaching the last 6 miles, I could feel my body was slowing down. I started to feel the fatigue and exhaustion but I pushed myself. I denied the pain in my legs. Entering the borders of Santa Monica gave me some hope. Im near…im near…just a little bit more! But the more I pushed myself, the more it seemed the finish line was getting farther and farther. I was feeling really cold in the last 2 miles. Hypothermia was creeping in. My bones and knees started to lock. I was tempted to walk away and just give up. The cold was crippling my legs. I just could not run anymore so I started brisk walking, I was running out of energy. I knew if I don’t do anything, I will not make it. I took the courage to ask another runner if I could borrow his thermal. I was surprised he was very kind to give it to me although his lady companion gave me a shrug and a look of disbelief. I did not care what she thought, all I cared is to finish the race. The thermal gave me so much comfort and heat that helped my contracted muscles to loosen up. As my body became warmer, I started running a little bit, and more. When I finally saw the big banner at the finish line, I ran as fast as I could. I can make it! There was a rush of excitement as I came closer. 10 yards, then 5, then 2 ’till I reached the finish line! I was exhilarated! I got my medal! 26 miles in 5:56 hours. :) photo (3)  The marathon experience is just like my life. God wanted me to experience and learn practical things in life. He was teaching me to push more, deny more, and persevere no matter what struggle, what illness, what storm I go through in life. I’m on a race. My life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. I have learned and accepted that I can’t just run fast and finish in a breeze. A marathon is a long stretch of miles and it pushes your body to extreme lengths. Like a marathon, I’ve learned and accepted that my life is not about ‘getting there’ quickly and getting things done right away and easily. Like a marathon, you will experience and meet different kinds of people in life. Some are kind and generous, some just care for themselves. Some will push you and knock you down. Some run to beat their athletic records, some run for the prize, some run for a cause, some run for fitness and some run just for fun. Like a marathon, there will be times you will get tired and you feel like giving up. But you push yourself anyway because you have a goal, you want to finish the race. You need encouragement to stay in the race. You need people who can cheer and will believe in you that you can do it. In a marathon, you need those Gatorades and gels to replenish your energy. In the same way, in life, you will need spiritual energy to drink to finish the end of your life with a bang and a celebration. Jesus said when you ‘drink’ him (meaning digest his teachings), you will never get thirsty and even if you do, you can always be refilled again and again. He is just there, he isn’t giving up. He is available for those who are thirsty. Sometimes we ignore the things that will help us finish the race. In my experience, I did not prepare or bring a thermal. I was a bit arrogant in my training and ignored the warning of the weather. I thought the thermal will just add ‘weight’ and a nuisance in my running. Besides carrying a thermal doesn’t look good in the camera. I was putting more attention what I’d look like in the photos. Like life, we put too much emphasis of what people would say about us. We are too concerned of our appearance to other people. If I brought a thermal, I would have been prepared and perhaps enjoyed my last 6 miles. But God always gives us a way out in life. I knew the only way I can finish the race is to be humble and have the courage to ask for help.photo (2) Like life, God puts people in our life to give us support, provide encouragement and cheer for us. But we have to decide and take courage to ask for it. There are people who will lend their help and can provide ‘thermals’ to help us go on. When we ask for help, God is teaching us humility because in reality, all of us need help. When we ask for help, it trains us to be vulnerable of our weaknesses and the things we have to change. It helps us to face the truth and deal with our pain. In the beginning, I did not know why God wanted me to run and I finally figured out at the end of the race. He wanted me to learn a character of perseverance. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, it says “You know that in a race all the runners run but only one wins the prize, don’t you? You must run in such a way that you may be victorious.” To sum it up, I can say the race was a wonderful, enjoyable experience and I felt victorious! I imagined God was cheering for me and I didn’t want to disappoint him. I celebrated it with the most important people in my life, Moses and the kids. My next marathon is now for a cause, for my daughter. I’m running to support Autism awareness so watch out! San Francisco marathon, here I come! photo (4).psd

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