No Thorns, No Throne

Pain in life introduces us to ourselves.

It is what we do with pain that eventually defines who we are. Experiencing pain and making right choices in the pain can be the “stepping stone” for greater things in life. It can stretch us, grow us, develop us. No one is immune to experiencing pain and adversity. It is in these life circumstances where we develop muscles of faith, courage, tenacity, and lessons learned for future life. We must choose to allow the circumstances to grow us rather than stifle us.

Peter says it well, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (I Peter 1:6-8).

Today I believe with all my heart that the life God has created and designed specifically for each of us is a “life that begins when you step out of your comfort zone.”

It gives you the best chance of “living a life of authentic faith in God and His bigger plan for your life far beyond what you can see or fathom in your limited understanding.” It is a real “dropping of your hands with your plans…and hopeful outcomes…and truly getting on God’s airplane and jumping when He says to jump. Trusting in His supernatural ability to have packed your parachute…and His perfect navigation….to push you…out of His plane over His intended destination for your life.”

It is so important to seek God in the pain and be intentional about your mindset.

Have a mindset that says: “this too will pass. In the meantime, I am going to follow God no matter what that looks like for me. I am confident that I am not only going to learn from this experience, but I am going to grow as well” and then start walking forward. I love the quote, “No one ever stubbed their toe…standing still.” We cannot live life stuck and standing still. When walking or running there is a danger of a stubbed toe or a pulled muscle, but standing still will get you nowhere.

When you are walking or running…at least you are getting somewhere.

God is a moving God. Of course, there is His word that teaches us to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). That is so true but too many times I see people “motionless” from pain or adversity…stuck in a comfort zone. Yes, a comfort zone of living in the past or in the pain that becomes an EXCUSE for not walking, or running for that matter. We may not like the comfort zone we are in but it is comfortable–it’s what we know.

But what comes after you know He is God?

Well, if you read the Bible I read…after being still…Jesus himself starting walking…moving forward…He didn’t let problems….challenges or Satan stop Him and neither should we. Ask any runner who has won a medal in the Olympics if they have ever been injured or tore or pulled something from running. All of them would probably say yes, but it didn’t stop them from healing, rehabilitating the injury and running again or seeking to break records…even if it was only their personal best record.

Adversity ….if looked at properly and embraced and toiled (plowed) properly can become the fertile soil….from which many great things grow. I love how John F. Kennedy responded when asked how to become a war hero. He simply said, “When someone sinks your boat!”

Boats sink people. Dreams die. But there are other boats and other dreams.

What kind of “hero” can you become from your “sunken boat?” Are you gonna just float on your back and wait on a shark to eat you or are you going to start “swimming and look for land?” Or swim and look for a passing boat? Maybe the boat that sunk was the wrong boat?

Maybe, just maybe, the sinking of the boat is God’s plan for you to jump on another boat….or swim to land and catch an airplane. Life is all about… you look at things and WHO you LOOK to for your answers. The Who is God…not man, but God’s Word…the Bible! It is the map that fits everyone’s life.

On the Back 9 I have little tolerance for excuses of staying stuck and standing still after knowing God is God! The “being still” part is about hearing from God and then getting going. Adversity is part of His plan for growth and maturity…maybe even for handling the next problem. God doesn’t want us to live our lives expecting problems, but He sure doesn’t want us living life thinking we will have none either. Isaiah tells us there is a refining process, “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10).

In looking back over my life….problems have done many things:

1. revealed my weaknesses (sin).
2. revealed my need for God.
3. refined me.
4. matured me.
5. humbled me.
6. made me a better problem solver.
7. made my ears sharper and more in tune with God’s voice.
8. taught me patience, self-control, gentleness …all the fruits of the Spirit.
9. made me empathetic to others.
10. given me a greater understanding of God’s nature, grace, forgiveness and plan for me.

It is very difficult to look for the opportunity when the pain level is a 10…but the opportunity is there. I always look to Jesus. William Penn states it well, “NO pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory…no cross, no crown”. When we are being still before God…this is what He wants us to understand and embrace….and then get MOVING!

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