Allow me to let you in on a few areas of my life that I often keep tucked away. From the outside looking in I am a fairly extroverted people person. I thrive in large crowds. When I choose to, I can easily make friends and conversation with complete strangers. I often come across confident in both my words and work. Fairly easily I can balance multiple projects, tasks, initiatives and people. What I post on social media and what many see as I stand in front of crowds are the highlights of carefully selected portions of my life that are chosen not to deceive but because sharing the difficult portions is...well difficult. It's tough to be transparent. It's tough to be vulnerable. It's not easy for anyone to let their guard down and admit what no one assumes could ever be possible. The reality is that I struggle on several fronts.
I live with a fear of the future. The future is unknown and I for one don't enjoy the unknown. I lost my father in January 2014 and while I knew prior to that date that death was inevitable for each of us, it was at that moment that the clock in my head began ticking...ticking towards the unknown future of the loss of every person I hold dear. That scares me. While I know in my heart what lies ahead for my loved ones that have a relationship with Jesus, it's still scary to think about navigating this life without them by my side.
I live with an increasing uneasiness of change. My sons, those two little boys that only yesterday were crawling all over me and longed for camp outs in the family room now both have jobs and commitments of their own. Many days each week my wife and I find ourselves at home alone. I know to parents of young ones that sounds amazing right? Don't get me wrong, it's fun but it's different. Things are changing. New faces are around our table and some of the old faces are gone. Sometimes I find myself longing for the old days when things were familiar.
I live with what at times feels like a rollercoaster of emotion. There are moments that I feel like I could conquer the world and then there are moments where I seem to lack all motivation. The "conquer the world" days way outnumber the "no motivation" days but those "no motivation" days can be scary and they seem to rear their ugly head at the most inconvenient of times.
As I've processed these feelings over the last several months I've come to some conclusions that I'd like to share with you in hopes that if there are some reading who also find themselves with similar thoughts you would know that you are not alone.
1. There is never a time when I am alone. God's Word makes it clear that He is with us in the midst of our struggle. Deuteronomy 31:6 says it on Bible Gateway like this, "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” It's my belief that one of the devil's greatest tools is to make you and I believe that we are alone. There is no doubt that speaking up is tough to do. Admitting that you struggle in any area of life is difficult but in confession, one to another, we find healing. James 5:16 says, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." You are not alone. God is with you. You are not the only one who struggles. I struggle too.
2. In the midst of my struggle I'm reminded that not only is God with me but perhaps He's trying to teach me something new. James 1:2-4 says, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. " God's not finished with you yet. I'm reminded of the song we often sang as a kid growing up in church.
"He's still working on me to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be, He's still working on me."
Perhaps the greatest tool at my disposal in the midst of struggle is to realize that my struggle is simply a stepping stone towards something greater.
3. Lastly I'm reminded that the devil doesn't want me to have success. He longs for me to fail at being a husband, father, brother, pastor, teacher, friend, community member, evangelist, neighbor and every other role I'm commissioned to be in the army of the Lord. The same is true for you. When you throw in the towel on what you've been created, called and commissioned to do, the devil wins and God's people suffer.
I invite you claim and speak the following truth over your life right now:
"Satan I rebuke you in the name of Jesus Christ.
I am a son (daughter) of God and with Him on my side I cannot be defeated.
I repeat, I CAN NOT BE DEFEATED!"
You can win. You will win when you allow yourself to remember that you're not alone. God is with you. I am with you. Lift your head and divert your gaze from the mountain in front of you and fix your eyes on the horizon of where God is taking you. Allow God to pick you up and dust you off. Gird yourself with the armor of God and run as fast as you can back into battle with the heavenly army flanking you on every side. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.