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Our 2011 NASCAR season had been an extremely frustrating one… but our family had also suffered through a lot of personal challenges… Pat summed up the frustration we felt one night when we were talking at home: “It just keeps coming, doesn’t it,” she said. I looked her right in the eyes and all I could say is, “It seems that way.”
Now, as you read through this devotional, or if you’ve read my book Game Plan for Life, you know I’m not exactly a stranger to trying situations, but this was an easy top-five on my adversity list. What were my feelings at the time? My first response was, “Oh my gosh — this is overwhelming!” Next came discouragement, which some say is the devil’s greatest weapon, and something I really have to fight against. Then, as it all came together, I became fearful. As is often the case, some of the visitors to our website, www.gameplanforlife.com, could relate to my situation. We have received postings where visitors were so discouraged they didn’t think they could make it another day.
I wonder, are you going through adversity like this? If so, there is a silver lining to my story: even in the worst of times, I have tried to discipline myself to read the Bible daily and to lay out my concerns in prayer to the Lord. As I went through this rocky period, I can honestly tell you that God’s Word seemed to come alive to me, providing insights and encouragement that lifted my spirits. I hope that by sharing a few of the things that Scripture revealed to me, you’ll be blessed.
First, one verse jumped right out to me and really spoke to my heart. In John 14:27 God says, “My peace I give you.” He offers a peace that the world does not give — that your heart may not be troubled or fearful. If you are going through tough times, make sure you memorize this verse. It sure was an encouragement to me.
Second, I was reminded to stay focused on Him and not on human beings. Many times other people do … what? They disappoint us. We need to stay focused on the Lord…
Third, we have to remember that God says in His Word that He loves us more than we love our own children or grandchildren. In fact, He loves us more than we love ourselves [see Romans 8:38-39].
What does this tell us? That we have an all-powerful God who loves us, and if we ask Him to come into our life, there is nothing that can separate us from His love. Isn’t that a great statement?
So many times when we find ourselves in the middle of adversity, we begin to feel overwhelmed and discouragement starts to take over. It is especially tough when the trials just seem to keep on coming. But if we just take a little time and connect with the God who gives us peace, who is more faithful than any human being, who loves us more than we love ourselves, He will help us make it through the worst of the storms.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for granting me a peace unlike any other. Thank You for being faithful and unfailing, unlike any human being. Thank You for loving me more than I love my family or myself. Grant me the courage to make it through this time and strengthen my faith during this troubling time. Amen.
We feel like we can handle our business on our own. That must be how Simon Peter felt, too, when it came to his profession as a full-time fisherman. The Bible recalls a time when he and some of his companions had been out all night fishing, catching nothing. Then Jesus showed up along the shoreline, telling them to try casting their nets on the other side of the boat.
These men were seasoned professionals. They knew these waters. Did Jesus really think they hadn’t already been fishing on both sides of the boat? But when they did what he said, “they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break” (Luke 5:6).
This story reveals something we all need to remember. No matter how good we are at what we do, or how well we think we can handle life on our own, if God’s not in it, we are going to wind up with a big zero. But if we put God first, we’ve got a chance to fill our nets to the breaking point.
The best way — the only way, really — to be your very best is to put everything
you do into God’s care and keeping. Actually, none of us can accomplish much for
His Kingdom by ourselves. But with Him working through us — with our focus on trusting Him, knowing He is ultimately in control — He will show us what real success looks like, right here in our own lives.
"His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’" -Matthew 25:23
We all tend to play to the audience that we believe is most vital to our success and well-being. If you’re a football player, your audience might be your coach or your teammates. A top NASCAR driver has his sponsors, fans, and race team he thinks about satisfying. The funny thing is that ultimately — as Os Guinness wrote in his chapter on vocation in my book Game Plan for Life — every one of us is playing to an even more important audience than we often realize or remember. It is an audience of one: God.
Yes, players need fans, writers need readers, and leaders need followers. These are their worldly audiences. But ultimately, it is what God thinks that matters most to any of us playing the game of life. In my life, I’ve found this to be a particularly valuable principle to keep in mind, especially when it comes to my career…
Sometimes — like that ‘07 Redskins season where I drew the penalty in the last seconds of the game that may have caused us to lose to the Buffalo Bills — the Holy Spirit taught me that I was wrongly playing for a different audience of one — me! …
My friend Norm Miller, who runs Interstate Batteries, loves to remind me that he and I are “playing in the fourth quarter on house money” — that is to say, we’ve both been working for almost fifty years and are closer to the end of our careers than the beginning. To me, what ultimately matters is doing my best to please God. “Live as children of light,” the apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5, “and find out what pleases the Lord.”
Where are you when it comes to pleasing the audience of one? Are you working for yourself to build riches and fame? Maybe, like me, you’ve actually thought at times you were doing something to please the Lord, only to realize you had other motives? If so, it’s time to make sure your vocation is dedicated to the most significant audience of all, so when you stand before the Lord, you can hear those cherished words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Dear Lord, it sure seems like You teach us a lot through our vocations. Please help me to make sure that my performance is targeting You, the audience of one. Please show me where I’m working for other audiences — my colleagues, friends, even my family or myself — and help me focus on You and Your calling for me. Help me to glorify You through everything that I do. Amen.
Law is but a body of rules regulating human behavior; it establishes, from the view of the state, the rightness or wrongness of human behavior. Most laws, therefore, have moral implications. Statutes prohibiting murder, mandates for seat belts, or regulations for industrial safety are a reflection of the particular moral view that values the dignity and worth of human life. And efficacy doesn’t affect morality. If in America we have 16,000 deaths per year caused by drunk driving, it’s not reason to repeal the laws making drinking and driving a crime.
Some of us are called to make a Christian witness from positions within government itself. As men like William Wilberforce or the great 19th-century social reformer Lord Shaftesbury clearly illustrate, Christians who are politicians can bear a biblical witness on political structures, just as other professionals do in medicine, law, business, labor, education, the arts or any other walk of life. Augustine called God-fearing rulers “blessings bestowed … upon mankind.” They exhibit this in their moral witness and in their willingness to stand up for unpopular causes, even if such causes benefit society more than their own political careers.
- Charles Colson
When we face disappointment, rather than wallowing in it, we can pray,
Lord, I don’t understand why all this has happened. But I do know you want me to keep walking, keep looking for you, keep remembering that it’s what I do with disappointment that matters. Help me…to surrender both my memories of the past and my hopes for the future to you.
- Undaunted: Daring to Do What God Calls You to Do, by Christine Caine
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