One thing that I have learned through my life experiences is that we are constantly moving in and out of seasons. Some of these seasons are full of prosperity and you feel bulletproof. Others are more difficult, and you feel like you are the guy with the kick me sign attached to your lower back and everyone else in the room is an NFL punter. Both of these situations are beneficial to us even though the seasons of prosperity feel so much better. We may actually learn more about ourselves during the hard times because God places us in trials to help us grow.
When going through a trial, life may become quite uncomfortable. You might feel like a boat that has been washed up on the shore after a violent storm and you can’t find your way back into the water. However, I don’t remember signing a document saying that once I became a Christian that everything was going to be easy. Jesus’ disciples were some of the greatest men to walk the earth and many of them were executed in grueling fashion. Of the reports I read, some were crucified, beheaded, clubbed, and stabbed to death. While losing your job sucks, it puts things into perspective when you think of the cost these men paid to further the gospel.
Navigating the Wilderness
I have lived a life of both following God and running away from Him, and the one thing I know for certain is that benefits of the former far outweigh the latter. As always, I try to be completely transparent with all of you because we are called to do life together. Some people look at me and think that I have it all figured out, when I am a mess just many of you. It’s not that misery loves company, but it’s good to know that people who you look up to are also struggling in life. It shows their human side and when they show that transparency, others can come alongside them to help them with encouragement and advice.
Currently I am in the middle of a four-month long trial that has been beating the tar out of me. I feel like the loser in this butt kicking competition, and will someone please tell Ray Guy to leave me alone already! I was a catcher 30 pounds ago and I lost most of it in my lower half. Since September of last year, the Giants told me that my contract would not be renewed in 2020, I broke my ribs, and my Mom passed away. It has been an emotional roller coaster to say the least and it has been difficult to focus. I feel like I am being pulled in 10 different directions and unlike Eddie Murphy’s famous skit on SNL, I am not Gumby. I know what Eddie’s famous line is. I’m just not going to repeat it…
I realize that God is working on things in my life during this trial. He has me out in the wilderness and is teaching me things about myself. These are things that I need to learn in order to help others both now and in the future. He is fashioning me in His own image the same as a silversmith does when creating a sword. He knows when the sword is ready when he can see his own image in it. I have anger and frustration that comes out in me as things heat up and get difficult. These are the exact things that God wants me to work on. They are impurities that the bible refers to as “dross”.
“Remove the dross from the silver, and a vessel for the silversmith will come forth.”Proverbs 25:4 (BSB)
Focusing on the Lesson
One of the hardest things about being in a trial is having the ability to focus. The devil is going to try and throw as many things at you as he can in order to distract you. He wants you to focus on the storm instead of the lesson. We need to remember that God is trying to teach us something about ourselves so we can help others. God wants to use us in powerful ways, and I believe that the more we are able to endure during difficult times, the greater He can utilize our versatile skill sets. Being able to focus on what is important and avoid the outside noise that the world is creating is crucial during these times. An acronym I have used a lot is “W.I.N.” It stands for What’s Important Now.
I sat down with my wife on Saturday and wrote down twelve things that I was dealing with; twelve! No wonder I felt so stressed out. I was trying to do all of these on my own and I finally came to a place where I needed help. Together we started to zero in on what was important, what was in our control, and also designate the things that were out of our control. The shotgun I had been firing now started to transform into a high caliber rifle. I was not at the point of being a sniper, but some of the clutter started to make its way to the bottom of the list while other items were eliminated. Peace started to come over me and I was able to breathe a little easier that day.
The one thing that was been consistent during this trial has been the time I have spent with God. I keep my daily appointments with Him through prayer, spending time in the bible, and reading other books written by Christian authors. I have been very specific in my prayers and I ask to hear His voice for advice. I don’t always get a response back, but when I do His advice is spot on. It comes in the right moment at just the right time. If there is one thing I can encourage you with while you are in the wilderness, remember to spend time with God daily. He is out there waiting to hear from you.
Here are some things to think about this week and ask yourself when going through a trial:
- Why am I going through this?
- What is God trying to teach me about myself?
- Who do I reach out to for advice?
- When do I stop working on this and give it to God?
- How will these lessons help others?
My weekly blog goes out on Tuesdays. If you are not currently on our email list and you would like to be, scroll down to the bottom of this page and put your first name and email address in the boxes. Then simply tap the sign-up button and you will receive my blog every Tuesday. Have an awesome day!