There’s a viral video that’s been floating around Facebook for a while now. It’s of an artist on Ukraine’s Got Talent. She has a large canvas and begins to draw what appears to be one of the judges. As she continues to work on it, the judges become impatient. One by one, they give her the dreaded X. After all judges give her the X, she takes the canvas, turns it upside down, then throws a chalky substance on the canvas. When the dust clears, it’s a portrait of someone else.
I think we are all a bit like those judges at times when God is trying to do a work in our lives. We think we know what He’s up to, and we don’t agree with it. We think we know best and we X out of His plan. We are always trying to put together the pieces of what He’s doing, and we are judging it. The problem is that we truly have no clue what He’s doing because we have the wrong perspective, and He’s not finished yet. We’ve got to learn to have patience while God works in our lives.
We’ve become a part of the culture that tries to figure everything out before it’s done. We like things now rather than later. We don’t let things develop and mature like they’re supposed to. God wants us to be patient, especially when He’s working in our lives. Isaiah 30:18 says, “But GOD’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you. He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you. GOD takes the time to do everything right—everything. Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones” (MSG).
God’s message to us today is to be patient while He works. He’s taking a His time, doing the things that are necessary. You may not understand it, or be able to see the full picture of what He’s doing right now. If you will wait for Him to complete what He’s started, you won’t be disappointed. Don’t be like those judges and miss out on the art that God is trying to create in your life. God’s not finished yet. The final product is worth the wait.
To watch the video I described, click here.
I work in an industry where for years we gave our customers free equipment in exchange for a contract. The problem that arose was that our customers didn’t treat the equipment very well. After losing it or breaking it, they would come back and say, “Can you give me another one?” When I would tell them this time they had to purchase it, they would get upset and say, “Just give me another free one.”
I learned during that period that people rarely value what they get for free. I remember valuing my first pair of shoes I paid for. I worked for weeks to earn enough to buy them. I was at an out of town tournament playing basketball with them. One night, someone decided to pull the fire alarm at the hotel. The first thing I grabbed to take with me outside was my shoes. I didn’t care if I lost everything else, I didn’t want to lose those.
Because of this tendency of our human nature, it’s difficult for us to value God’s grace. It is a free gift that affords us salvation. Our minds can’t comprehend how something so valuable could be free, so we often try to earn our salvation by doing things instead of trusting God’s grace. In several of his letters, Paul warns against this kind of thinking. He also warns of the mentality that says, “Since its free, I’ll just do what I want and ask for more.”
I love how in Galatians 2:21, Paul strongly says, “I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless” (NLT). I believe you and I have to fight every day against our minds to not treat God’s grace as meaningless. It’s something we should value highly. The cost was high even though you and I didn’t have to pay it. To treat it as meaningless or to try to earn our salvation is to devalue what Jesus did on the cross. May we ever be grateful for God’s amazing grace and treat it with the value it is worth.
Many years ago, I went through a divorce. Along with all of the other baggage that comes with it, I struggled with its affect on God’s call on my life. I had been raised in a denomination that did not allow people who were divorced to minister. As the reality of my divorce set in, so did the reality that I would never be able to minister to others. I was devastated all over again. I had felt the call of God on my life since I was young, and now I felt like I couldn’t fulfill it.
As I was lamenting to a friend about it, he gave me one of those verbal, snap out of it slaps across the face. He said, “Do you really think that you can do anything to revoke the call of God on your life? Who has more authority, man or God?” The more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right. Man does not have the authority or ability to revoke God’s call, yet our enemy lies to us to make us ineffective.
I believe this was something the apostle Paul struggled with. I’m sure the enemy tormented him with thoughts like, “How can you be a minister when you’ve murdered so many Christians?” I believe the churches also must have struggled with it because he had to bring it up in a lot of his letters. In Galatians 1:15 he reminded them, “But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace” (NLT). Even his years of persecuting the Church couldn’t revoke God’s calling.
If Paul’s murders and persecution of the Church couldn’t revoke God’s call on his life, then nothing you or I have done has revoked it on ours. If you’ve been believing the lie that your past sin or circumstances have prevented you from fulfilling your calling, today is your day of freedom. Before you were born, God called you and there’s nothing you or anyone else can do to revoke it. If you’re in sin, repent and fulfill your calling. If you’re a Christian, but haven’t been walking in your calling because of your past, today’s your day to start walking in it.
I think most of us have a desire to succeed in life. We want to chase our dreams and be better off than when we started. Even though we have that desire, so many of us struggle to succeed in life, at home, at work or in our faith. I’ve learned that so many of us fall short of success because we haven’t defined it. We may have an image of it in our mind, but what does it mean to you to be a successful parent, Christian, spouse, etc.? To succeed in these areas, it takes more than desire, it takes help.
Too many of us are afraid or prideful to ask for help. I can assure you that no one who you think is successful got there on their own. They had someone who sharpened them, someone who challenged them and held them accountable. Success comes from doing things daily that get you toward that goal, from people who challenge you to keep going in the tough times and ultimately from following God’s principles. If you’re not on the road to success, what piece of the puzzle are you missing?
Here are some Bible verses on success.
1. Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT
2. Ask the Lord to bless your plans, and you will be successful in carrying them out.
Proverbs 16:3 GNT
3. Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel and watch them succeed.
Proverbs 15:22 MSG
4. Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.
Ecclesiastes 10:10 NLT
5. Get good advice and you will succeed; don’t go charging into battle without a plan.
Proverbs 20:18 GNT
I’m one of those people who loves it when a business puts a survey at the bottom of a receipt. If you’ve ever wondered who takes those, it’s me! Whether it’s for food, a flight, customer service experience, an oil change or whatever, I like to take them. Part of it is that I can get something for free usually, but the other part is that I get a say in how they conduct business. Many times I think if they would just take my suggestion, they’d be so much better off.
I have a friend who owns a business, and one time I started to give him a suggestion, “If I were you, I’d…” He stopped me and said, “You’re not going to think of something we haven’t. We’ve been doing this every day for years.” Part of me was hurt that they didn’t want an outside set of eyes. The other part of me understood. They know their business inside and out. Who am I to try to tell them how to run it?
The bigger problem comes in when we try to tell God how things should be. Have you ever tried that? “God, if you would have just done this, that wouldn’t have happened.” We love to tell God how things should have happened, especially when we aren’t happy with the outcome. We love to tell God how to do things as if we know better. Yes, if He had done it our way, we would have missed out on a lot of pain. But do we really know better?
Job 21:22 says, “But who are we to tell God how to run His affairs?” (MSG) Do we really know better than He does? He sees the whole picture, and we see a small part. Like a good parent, He does what’s best for us even if we don’t like it. He sees the outcome before anything happens. Like a child, we may not understand why things happen or what He’s doing, but we have to trust Him even when it upsets us. He’s always working for our good.
There’s an exercise I do with people to show how our minds jump to conclusions and we assume. We observe a conversation where a lot of things are left open, and then I ask them questions about it. The group doesn’t know that I’m exposing how their brain works. As I ask the questions, they typically make assumptions. I keep asking questions to get as much detail from them as I can to see how much they’ve made up.
I keep asking questions until someone inevitably says, “I don’t know.” I then go back to what was said and ask, “So what do we really know?” I sometimes have to go through it several times before they get it. Most of the answers they give are based on their assumptions and not on what they know. I then like to ask, “How much of your life is based on what you’re assuming versus what you know?” It’s a heavy question that I usually leave several seconds of silence after while they think.
Job was a righteous man in the Bible. He honored God in all he did and even fell down to worship God when he lost his kids and his wealth. As time went on and he was struck with boils, his friends began to question his integrity. In their conversations back and forth, it’s clear that they make many assumptions about his predicament and how God is doing it to Him. They don’t know that Satan is behind the whole thing and is the one tormenting Job.
In Job 19:25, Job makes a great statement. He says, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives” (NLT). We may not know why we go through certain things or why things happen, but we can know that our redeemer lives. We can live with assurance that He is in control and our lives are in His hands. We need to stop our assumptions that God is behind everything bad that happens in our lives. We know that it’s the enemy who steals, kills and destroys. It’s God who brings life. So they next time things happen, don’t make decisions based on assumptions. Go with what you know.
There was a period in my life where I fell like I had it worse than Job. I was losing everything in my life, and I was helpless to stop it. I felt like a knife had been put in my chest, pulled down to my waist and all my guts had fallen out. I was knocked down and didn’t want to get back up. I couldn’t see the future or any path forward. It was easier to just stay there and deal with the pain than it was to get back up and to keep moving.
As Christians, quitting shouldn’t be in our vocabulary. Giving up shouldn’t be considered. If we get knocked down six times, we get up seven. I had to remind myself of these things in those dark moments. I had to tell myself that others had it worse than I did and that I needed to start moving forward even if it wasn’t much. Between putting God’s Word in my mind and spending time in prayer, I was able to get back up and move forward. Doing the same, I believe you can find the strength you need to move forward as well.
Here are some Bible verses about not giving up.
1. The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger.
Job 17:9 NLT
2. But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.
2 Chronicles 15:7 NIV
3. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
Galatians 6:9 NLT
4. No matter how many times you trip them up, God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet, while the wicked end up flat on their faces.
Proverbs 24:16 MSG
5. The Lord guides us in the way we should go and protects those who please him. If they fall, they will not stay down, because the Lord will help them up.
Psalm 37:23-24 GNT