The other morning I was listening to one of my favourite artists sing. She dug deep and punched out her lead line with a bit of a growl. I loved it the first time I heard it, and I loved it again this particular morning.
My mind instantly veered down a path of passion, and within moments I was thinking of the great company of witnesses in heaven. (Hebrews 12:1)
My thoughts went to Gideon, David, Elijah, and Ruth and Naomi all who lived fully human, just like us. Then my thoughts continued to the more recent; how about Martin Luther King, Billy Graham, and Mother Teresa? Then there are a couple of my favourite people who lived and sung with passion, Andre Crouch, and Dannibelle Hall. These people from ancient and recent past all stood with an, “I’ve got something I have to do!” attitude.
“Phil, you are going to be greeted and surrounded by a myriad of people that could literally be defined by their passion,” my thoughts injected. “Are these your people? Is this what you are known for? Are you living with passion? Is your passion for the right things?” (At times my inside conversation bothers me.)
Let me ask you. Right now I am asking where things are at. In the last twenty-four hours, has your passion shown through? Or, are you waiting for the weekend?
The plans of discarding all that is right and true
The one night stand
Think outside the box that you find yourself in.
Joseph had to. He had to look for more than childhood dreams. They just weren’t working out how he had envisioned them. The prison box that he was held captive in did not house the dream that was in his heart.
All he had left were hopes and dreams, and you know? They were probably too small.
What box, what pressure cooker are you living in? Perhaps, the very thing creating all the pressure is forming you, for the better, the best.
In a day of High-Speed Internet, anything short of instant is too long! To think that I used to think my 486 was fast compared to my XT, I just dated myself.
Wouldn’t you just like to wake up to success tomorrow morning? I would. I would love to take the mess of my life, my over-the-top struggle and just watch it vanish in Disney moment. Who wouldn’t? Unfortunately, that is not how gown-up life works.
It sure did not work that way for Joseph. He had to process his life, as do we; we really don’t advance, indeed grow and change, until we do.
Throughout the narrative, Joseph was referred to several times as successful in all that he did. That wouldn’t have been my version of success, I could easily come up with several other words, but from God’s vantage and perspective he was growing and changing even though, from mine, his life seemed to get worse. Sometimes it just doesn’t seem to make sense to me, but God isn’t waiting for me to catch up or for my permission to get or give understanding.
We might even concede to handling the ‘Process,’ but make it happen now. Don’t make me wait until growth happens or seasoning takes place.
There is a little-concealed phrase in the great biblical ‘Hall of Faith’ that is easily missed. It says, “…whose weakness was turned to strength;” (Hebrews 11:34, NIV) the quote is an operational key for life. God uses weakness. Did you hear that? I know you read it, but did you hear it? God uses weakness, then, now, in your life and mine. Stop for a moment; read that last sentence out loud so you can hear yourself saying it; grabbing this concept is so crucial for your equilibrium and wellbeing. It means that the mess, the screw-ups don’t’ have to remain that way. It means that just as Joseph came through and out, you can too.
You can experience a transformation from mess to message. You can leverage your past for success in your future, but even better than that, you can leverage your past for someone else’s future.
Just because it isn’t instant doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
My last weeks were filled with preparation. I worked a full-time job, gave hours of volunteering and I took on two different speaking engagements with just two week’s lead time for one and one week’s lead time for the other. I spent hours of preparation for two different audiences with two various topics to be relevant to two separate groups of people. Why, because my message was important and I didn’t want to waste anybody’s time or be unprepared for the topic at the moment.
I wanted the audience for which I was preparing to be fully appreciated.
We can perceive our life to be daily viewed and reviewed by all who are proximal. These proximity persons could be mistaken as our audience. We might even find ourselves bending or straining to gain their approval. The pressure that we perceive from them could if we let it force our decisions. “What will they think if I…did, or didn’t do…?” But really, is this with whom we should be concerned?
I remember a phrase that I heard many years ago, “We play for an audience of one.”
The urbandictionary.com gives a definition to the ‘audience of one’: focusing our “performance–what we do, say, think… or not, so as to be acceptable to one person, individual or deity”
Paul, in a context of those proximal, says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV)
Our words affect others; our actions may inspire, instruct, or even discourage, but we only play for the audience of one.
At the end of the day, the end of my life, there is only one person whose approval I want. “…Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 5:21, NIV)
You needn’t have been alive very long to suffer the emotional effects of conflict, trouble or misunderstanding. These effects have probably already lasted way too long.
When you have pain from mishap or wrong done, and you have wrestled with the hurt from a life that has gone sideways or soured, you have got to do something. Somehow you have to process your shock, hurt, remorse and grief.
It is Personal
Pain and hurt were brought home to me in a poignant and remarkable way. I had taken my family through the shame, regret and humiliation of bankruptcy. I had failed in business. As a Christian, I was against this failure and everything that had transpired to cause my life to fall apart. Caught in the middle and found guilty, I was reaping the full harvest of a life gone wrong, mine. I was in complete consternation.
I had to move away from family and home to find work, just to make our ends meet, and, possibly find a way out for us. This separation only added to the guilt of my circumstance. I was alone with my thoughts, and I didn’t like them.
I had rehearsed the events that led up to bankruptcy ad-infinitum. I took that rehearsal to the Lord in prayer many times. I felt lousy, condemned and abundantly guilty.
I had owned my mess in its entirety, but the weight of it continued to oppress me. I knew it was my fault, and I knew I had to live with it.
After seven months apart I was able to relocate my family to our new home and try to start new.
One more time I cried out to God and was asking him to forgive me. Then something strange and remarkable happened. I heard his response to my thoughts, in my thoughts, and it shocked and halted me. He said, “I can’t.”
What do you mean you can’t?
I immediately thought I had heard wrong, and so I challenged the thought. “You are God, who always forgives. Something is obviously wrong with my hearing and, or, my understanding.” I reprocessed the part of the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” I had forgiven and repurposed to forgive again. I came again, “You are God, who always forgives.” He responded, again in my thoughts, “I can’t forgive something you are not guilty of.” I was perplexed, hopeful and still halted.
I began to understand, and from that moment, began to find a lasting peace.
I had taken care of and owned “my stuff” for which I was guilty. I had thoroughly dealt with it in openness and confession but “it” was only part of the problem. I was stuck because I had seen “it” as the whole problem. There were four more ‘causes’ that worked into the complexity of the problem. It was only when I completely dealt with all five of these sources that I was able to walk out in freedom. I was forgiven, clean and on the path to restoration.
Five Sources of Conflict
The sources of conflict were: Myself; Others; The World Around Us; The Devil; and God.These are the five areas that I needed to understand and now need to communicate with you so that you can make sense of your life and completely deal with your hurts and remorse of your past. They are the precise points where you can experience victory; a victory uniquely yours. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I [Jesus] have come that they [you] may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV) [Inserts, my own.]
What is it that causes me to have a can-do attitude? Why can I work at something and make it work while another doesn’t seem to have the heart or motivation? Why, conversely, can they see phenomenal success in an area that is entirely foreign to me?
Could it be simply that the area in question has not made it to the top of the list as a priority for them or myself?
Priorities are created in the privacy of our thoughts, the deep down places of the inner person. They receive the energy that others can observe as they get fleshed out and become visible.
It occurred to me today that the reason a person is not willing to make a change is because the need for change hasn’t yet tripped their priority list.
I am aware that some people don’t believe that other people can change. These same people assume that once you reach adulthood, you are what you are.
I once heard it said, “You will be the same next year except for the people you meet and the books that you have read.” There might be some merit to that. I also think that there may be one more ingredient to add to the change mix; the pressure you were put under to make a change.
We change when we get convinced in our inner thoughts; when the people we respect are modeling the attribute; and when life’s pressure reorients us to what is imperative.
What is the difference between a good idea and something that makes it to your priority list? A good idea is just that, a conversation piece, an elevated thought that receives attention.
A Priority means that you are choosing one over another; one thought, one action, one person, a set of values or lack thereof.
What are your priorities? What is your number one priority? What is it that holds value at the innermost core of your being? Is that a value worth keeping? If not, what is your strategy for real change?