Stuck in the Middle

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

Frederick Douglass

You know that excitement you get when you begin a new project? What about the sense of satisfaction when you finish one? Do you ever hear anyone say, “I’m so excited about working fifty rows of  K1 P1 ribbing?

For the non-knitters, K1 P1ribbing is knitter-speak for knit one stitch and pearl one stitch until you lose your mind. The stitch pattern makes a lovely edge for sweaters and hats, but it can be a little boring. It also takes a little attention to detail because you constantly switch the yarn from the back to the front to the back again. If you are just knitting a row, you don’t really have to think about it as your hands use muscle memory to just do it. The ribbing takes a little work.

Writing books is very similar. You are excited about the idea in your mind and start creating the character and their world. You look forward to finishing it and getting it published. In between the two lies the ribbing, aka figuring out how to get your protagonist from point A to point Z without losing your reader or your mind. It takes a little work.

Our spiritual lives are not really that different. When we first come to know Christ, we are excited and eager to dive into the Word and live the Christian life. It’s a great time. Then, we are also thinking about what it will be like when we get to Heaven and everything is complete and whole in Christ’s presence. In the meantime, life happens and we get distracted by daily tasks and demands on our time. Keeping our enthusiasm during the daily grind is difficult sometimes. It takes a little work.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Hebrews 12:1

Christians are a work in progress. We have been saved, but God is still working on us. The key word is work. It requires a struggle, but nothing good ever comes easy. The good news is that it’s not all up to us. God is working on us, and God will finish what he starts.

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Philippians 1:6

There is no greater example of this than the caterpillar becoming a butterfly. It takes time for the transformation to occur, and when the butterfly is ready to emerge from the cocoon, it has to struggle. The thing about the struggle is that it makes the butterflies wings strong so that when it is finally free, it can fly.

When you find yourself struggling in your daily walk, remember that God is not finished with you yet. Struggle means you are growing spiritual wings so that you can fly. Meanwhile, you can’t speed through the process like Adam Sandler’s character in Click. His remote control allowed him to fast forward through the parts of life he didn’t like, but in the end he realized that he’d fast forwarded through his life and missed a lot of great little moments. So, learn to slow down so that you can enjoy the little moments because that’s where life is really lived: in the middle.

Hopeful: It’s an Attitude

It’s the little things that can make your day, but it is also the little things that can wreck your day…if you let it. My hope Bible study this week seems to be on attitude. Don’t get me wrong, I can get an attitude, but it’s not always the right one. The scriptures this week give an example of how we should respond to life given the hope that we have.

Day 15

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

1John 3:2-3

We should purify ourselves. If we are Christians, we are purified by the blood of Christ on the cross, but we still live in a fallen world. We are faced with situations on a daily basis that can send us down the wrong path. So the first key word is PURITY.

Day 16

But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

1 Thessalonians 5:8

The next key word is SOBER. Sober is more than just not drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Have you ever heard the phrase “sober as a judge”? To be sober is to be calm, temperate, and earnest. Noone wants to come before a judge who is either silly or prone to outbursts. We want someone who is calm and serious so that they can judge the situation fairly. From the looks of social media, I think all of us could do with a little sobering up.

Day 17

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

Titus 2:13

LOOKING is the word that jumped out at me from this verse. When you have hope, you are expecting something. In this case, we are expecting the appearing of Christ and the renewal of the entire world. Let’s not let evil in the world take away our hope. Let’s keep our focus on Christ, and share our hope with the world.

Day 18

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Revelations 21:4

The key word here is NO. There will be nothing bad in Heaven, so we have a hope for a better future. Therefore, we should remember that this world is temporary, but eternity awaits full of good things for those who believe.

Day 19

The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

MIDST is the keyword here. I almost chose mighty, but we know God is mighty. What we need to remember is that He is in the midst; He is in us through the Holy Spirit’s presence. We are not alone.

Day 20

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

Romans 12:12

There are actually three key words here: REJOICING, PATIENT, CONTINUING. There are several scriptures that tell us to rejoice. If nothing else, we can rejoice in our salvation, but I think if you try you can think of many more things worthy of rejoicing over. Patient is not an easy one, but if you are rejoicing, it is easier to be patient in times of trial. Continuing means we don’t stop; we keep going. As we keep going forward for Christ, we continue to pray. Keeping in constant communion with God helps to keep our battery charged and our hopes high. All three keywords also represent actions as well as attitude. What can we do today that will bring out these attitudes?

Day 21

His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Matthew 25:21

The keyword is FAITHFUL. God just wants us to do the best we can with what we have for His service, no matter how small. If we do that, then we have JOY.

Our attitude is in direct relation to our focus. When we keep our focus on Christ, then we have hope. When we have hope, our attitude changes for the better. So, let’s try for a hopeful attitude because the world is in need of hope today more than ever before. #MyHopeNotebook