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Obstacles or Opportunities?

December 13, 2010

Walking in dependence on Christ is how we were created to live, even though at times it seems quite difficult.  As we continue to learn to live in dependence on Christ in every moment, He continues to bring more opportunities for us to trust Him.” ~ Matt Smith, Living In Freedom Ministries

He continues to bring more opportunities for us to trust Him. This was the phrase out of Matt’s ministry update/support letter that set me down a learning path last week.  I was immediately reminded of this great Evan Almighty clip that talks about the same thing:

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…and then the word “opportunity” just lingered with me last week.  What do I do with the opportunities that I am presented on a daily basis?  Most often times, I am viewing opportunities as obstacles, because I’ve got more of a self-focus than a Savior-focus going on at that moment.  Obstacles in my way, for how to further my plan, to achieve my goals.  Me.  My.  Mine.

As a Jesus follower, when I choose the “obstacle” path, I am operating with what the author of Hebrews calls an “unbelieving heart”.  “Take care, brethren (and he says ‘holy brethren, partakers of a holy calling’ a few verses earlier (3:1)), that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.” (Hebrews 3:12).  A good friend of mine recently made the statement that the “sin of unbelief is the primary sin a believer in Christ can have.”  If I choose the “obstacle” path, then I am thinking & acting in consistently with who God is and who I am in Christ – therefore, unbelieving in that moment = unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.  A momentary lapse of reason – let’s hope – but a lapse nonetheless.

I need to think and act as though I have a God!  A God Who has grafted me into the Vine (John 15:1-8) – Jesus – making me a “partaker of a holy calling” (Hebrews 3:1).  In fact, I was redeemed, meaning purchased for a price – “…not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood…the blood of Christ,” (1 Peter 1:18-19).  Furthermore, in Christ, I have been granted everything pertaining to life and godliness, been granted His precious & magnificent promises and have become partakers of THE divine nature (2 Peter 1:1-4).  And WHY has He grafted me – as a living branch – into the Vine?  To produce/bear fruit through me!

Andrew Murray said in True Vine The one object God had in making you a branch is that Christ may through you bring life to men.  Everything else – family, business, personal growth, etc – is subordinate to this.  My focus each day should be – how does Christ desire to carry out His purpose in me today?”  This sounds a lot more in line with the “opportunity” path of thinking!!  Murray continues, “The one object of my being a branch, the one mark of my being a true branch, the one condition of my abiding & growing strong, is that I bear fruit of the heavenly Vine for dying men to eat and live.

When I’m focused on obstacles, I am often buying into faulty definitions as to how my world should work – I’m viewing things through the Me/My/Mine lenses.  I can quickly lose sight of the fact that God may very well be in this “obstacle”…using it to effect a change in me.  Ouch.  I don’t like that, but that is truth.

Well, what about real hardship?  Persecution, imprisonment, death of loved ones, slavery – where is God in those things?  I don’t know.  We do live in a fallen world right now, and these things have been allowed to happen for a season.

Who am I to question an almighty and powerful God?  I mean, I am free to question Him – or bring my questions to Him – but even if I got the answer(s), would I like them?  Would I have the context to know what to do with that information?  No.  I don’t know everything.  I am prone to judge good & evil – it is the curse that Adam & Eve bit off from the beginning and I’m living with that lineage.  While I’m prone to judge, I do so without the benefit of omnipresence and omniscience.  Basically, I’ve got a big bag of nothing.

So what?

So…when (not if) the affliction comes (John 16:33a) – relationship strife, money strife…LIFE STRIFE…we have an opportunity to trust Him.  Focus on Him, His character, His promises.  Then I must CHOSE to follow Him in that moment, acting like I have a God Who has chosen me and is in me (John 16:33b).

I hope this is an encouragement to someone today. I know that I will need reminding of this myself…most likely soon…as my faith sometimes falls away in my “momentary, light affliction” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).  Will I screw it up?  Absolutely.  I pray that over time (and hopefully sooner rather than later) I will make more right choices than fleshly ones.

Never become discouraged with failures that come, for the fact remains that we do have a Victorious Life within that will express itself.” ~ Mike Wells, Problems, God’s Presence & Prayer.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 27, 2010 9:27 AM

    Hey Brother: There is a great little book out called the
    Red Sea Rules: The Same God Who Led You In Will Lead You Out –
    The Ten Red Sea Rules are: 1 – Realize that God means for you to be
    where you are. 2 – Be more concerned for God’s glory than your
    relief. 3 – Acknowledge your enemy, but keep your eyes on the Lord.
    4 – Pray! 5 – Stay calm and confident and give God time to work. 6
    – When unsure, just take the next logical step by faith. 7 –
    Envision God’s enveloping presence. 8 – Trust God to deliver you in
    His own unique way. 9 – View your current crisis as a faith-builder
    for the future. 10 – Don’t forget to praise Him! These rule are not
    just formulaic clichés, but are packed with Scriptural examples You
    nailed the essence of the Christian”s life battle – “self-focus
    (VS) a Savior-focus.” It is a daily battle. Thanks for your
    encouragement! Semper Fi, Gene

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