I Can See Clearly Now…

1519726_10202968744210619_1815288395_oI have had the opportunity to spend the last two days at home.  It’s not that I have taken a vacation or planned some great restful sabbatical. On the contrary, I have been home with an eye condition.  Three nights ago I took my contacts out a little early because my left eye was hurting.  As the evening went on the pain got more intense. By the time I went to bed it was quite painful, and I thought I had scratched it badly without realizing it.  I wear hard lenses, and it has happened before.

That night, sleep pretty much eluded me.  I tossed and turned for most of the night because of the pain in my eye.  When I got up to get ready for work, the pain was so intense that I could barely open either eye.  I decided that when I got to work I would go down and get checked out in the urgent care. (I foolishly drove myself to work while squinting through one eye.)  They were not able to find out what was wrong, but the swelling in my eye was a real cause for concern, so I made an appointment with our local eye doctor.

The diagnosis was a central corneal ulcer with bacterial infiltration.  That is eye doctor talk for a hole in my eye with a nasty little infection.  This type of infection left untreated will result in a minimum of a loss of vision and the possible loss of the eye itself.  I was not having a good day.  The doc gave me some drops for my eye and set up several follow-up appointments along with a stern warning not to take this lightly.

That was a couple of days ago by the time you read this.  As I write, I am sitting in a darkened room typing on a laptop with the screen brightness turned down so I am able to see what I am doing.  The pain is gone now, but there is still some swelling and redness in my eye that I am dealing with.  It would be nice to be able to open the blinds and enjoy the sunshine, but I can’t handle that just yet.  Tomorrow I will go to work wearing sunglasses…

My prayer is that when I go in to see the doctor tomorrow I will hear that the meds are working, and that by taking the time to let things rest, I will see some more healing.  If things aren’t where the doctor wants them to be, I maybe going in to see a specialist.  I won’t know yet when this is posted, so I guess if you want to know how things turn out then you can ask in the comments below!

This hole in my eye probably did not happen all in a day.  I have had a little bit of discomfort over the last week, but I just told myself that it was nothing more than being tired and a lot of wind and dry weather that was the cause of it.  It was not until the pain became too hard to ignore did I realize there was a bigger problem.   I was not able to see the problem because I was not open to the idea that a problem could exist.  Only when the pain hit did I stop to evaluate things.

Sitting at home has given me a little free time, and I wish I could say that I have done a lot with it, but when you need your eyes to do things and you don’t have them then you are a little limited!  So, I have been thinking about things.  Thinking is a new pursuit of mine, and while I do not engage in it as often as I should, I am finding that it has its benefits!  I really should make it a larger part of my decision making process…

I want to share what I have learned as a result of this down time. I don’t know if it will help anyone else out there, but I want to share it anyway.  If for no other reason, I want to write it down because it makes it more real for me.

Sometimes, if you really want to see something clearly, you have to face the things that you are blind to.

I could have ignored the problem with my eye.  After all, it has hurt before and it always got better.  It wouldn’t have fixed the problem though.  It would have led to a larger problem that would take more drastic measures to correct.

The Christian life needs to be looked at the same way.  We have the big things in the Christian life that we think about, and we feel like if we take care of those then the rest of life will fall into place.  For many years I thought that going to church was one of those things.  As long as I am there and listening, I will grow in Christ.  In reality, if that is the extent of my Christian walk, then I am just waiting for the spiritual equivalent of an eye ulcer!

I need to be attentive to my spiritual health just like I should have been more attentive to my vision!  There are always early indicators that there could be a problem.  In the case of my eye it was irritation, but in my spiritual walk it could be allowing people to annoy me or having a bad attitude or selfish thoughts.  They might be little things that I can dismiss as nothing, but they could also be indicating that there is a wound in a relationship or a deficiency in my time with God that needs to be addressed before things get worse.

David wrote several Psalms where he asked God to search his heart for the evil that may be lurking in it.  I know that there is evil in my heart, and I too ask God to point it out to me, and He does.  The problem is that I am sometimes guilty of turning a blind eye to it.  I need to be willing to look at what He shows me and not dismiss it.

He shows me where there the problems are through things like strained relationships, frustration, anger, envy and more.  He is always faithful to do that.  His desire is not to bring me shame, but to show me my need for Him to make the wrongs right again, and to grow as a result.  I need to be acutely aware of those indicators to live a spiritually healthy life.

I’m not going to catch every spiritual symptom early.  Some of them are going to grow until they bring me pain, and while I understand and accept that, I am determined to limit those times as much as possible.  I want a life of relentless growth, and that means that I can’t just throw in the towel.  I have to take ownership of my spiritual health.

My eye feels much better now than it did.  Rest, medicine, and a lot of prayers from friends and family have facilitated that healing from God.  I’ve learned a few things as a result of this infection that are going to change the way that I take care of my eyes.  It will require a little more time, and a little more discipline, but those actions could prevent this from happening again.

The same thing happens in my walk with God.  If I acknowledge and learn from my experiences, and discipline myself going forward, I will be much more aware when I see those dangerous spiritual symptoms on the rise and can act before an infection can take hold.

How about you?  Struggling with anger or irritation?  Envious of another person?  Struggling with a selfish or a judgmental attitude?  You might have something going on in your heart that requires a visit with the Great Physician.  He’s ready to see you now.  Don’t wait.  Time might not be on your side…

In His Grip,

Tom

 

 

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Happy 17th Birthday, Jessica! Dad Loves You!

Today my little girl turns 17.  I am not sure how this happened, since it seems she was just born last Thursday, but here we are. I know I am not the first Dad out there that has felt the shock of a growing daughter, but this is my first little girl, and this is my blog, so if you want to continue to read, then you will just have to pretend I am or at least hold your tongue for now.  I’ll take comments in the box below.

So, I guess the way that I want to do this is to speak to my daughter.  All you other folks won’t mind if I do that, will you?  I thought not.  You are welcome to listen in, but please, silence your cell phones so as not to disturb us.

Jessica,

I remember the day that your mom told me that you were on the way.  I was working in the bakery and she had just finished working a night shift at the hospital when she stopped in and set a package of diapers on the front counter and told me that we were going to need those in 9 months.  I was so happy, and the ladies that worked with me in the bakery were all hooting and hollering as well.

321491_4832527489535_88458044_nIt was so exciting waiting with mom while you grew, and when the day came I was beyond words.  I know I have told you that I wanted a boy, and since we didn’t know what was coming I was so surprised.  I was the father of a daughter! The surprise to me was that I could not have been happier.  You stole my heart right from the beginning.

312424_4832536289755_358998531_nWe brought you home and then the race began.  How can we put all the love for this little girl that we have into her before she grows up?  Well, you made it easy.  Your love of life, your sweet smile and your bright eyes made it easy for us to just pour it into you.  We had so many nights of just sitting on the couch talking to you and playing with you.  I loved that toothless grin!

995302_10202357674841693_1646407219_nAs you grew and became more active our games would change.  We would get our hats on and go for a cricket hunt.  We would throw treats to Clyde the dog.  We loved sitting in the living room at night, just the three of us and talk to you just to hear you talk to us.  We were so amazed at how smart you were and how wide your vocabulary was.  You have continued to amaze us!

46306_4832650092600_776163294_nI blinked one day and you grew again.  You had become old enough to start taking care of animals.  So, we started something that I had no idea would turn into what it has today.  Your love for the furry things that you took care of has been so great to watch, because it is just a natural outpouring of the love that God has put inside you.

75003_4832780735866_725842936_nOf course, the furry things have gotten bigger as you have gotten bigger, but it has proven to be an indicator of the passion you have for seeing things through and being accountable for your responsibilities.  I have been so proud of the way that you have practiced through smiles and tears with your horses.  I have enjoyed watching you just hang out with them in the pasture as you so often do in the summer.  I love seeing your happiness in the creatures God has given us.

Now you are 17.  It is so satisfying to see the beautiful young lady that you have turned into.  Your mom and I have said for years that we have been blessed with great kids.  We gave you discipline when you needed it, and love all the time, but we truly have been blessed.  Not just because you are so pretty and smart, but because God has done and is continuing to do a work in your heart.

1526530_10202336918602800_936439436_nI am so thankful that you know Christ, and that you have a relationship with Him that is yours, not one that you have borrowed from me or mom.  I think that is what has made you so beautiful on the inside to go along with the beautiful young lady that you are.  God has big plans for you, this I know.  He has not shown us the whole picture, but I know that He is excited about the things He has for you.  I am too.

I said earlier that I was afraid I would never be able to pour all of my love into you before you grew up.  I know now that I never will.  That is a life long job for me. You are loved, daughter.  Now and forever.  Not jsut by me, but by your heavenly Father as well. I am so glad to be your Dad, but even more glad that you know Him too.  Be relentless in your pursuit of Him and your dreams.  Continue to search for you identity in Him and just bask in His love!

I love you, Squirt,

Dad

Your Potential Is Huge

Mirror-manThe more I read in Ephesians, I am reminded again and again of the message in the book about finding my identity in Christ.  I believe that is the overarching theme of this letter from Paul, and it just keeps hitting home as I continue to study.  If you haven’t had a chance to read it with this specific focus, I can’t encourage you enough to look into it!

So this morning I am reading and I see this message in a little impact verse in Chapter 2 of Ephesians…

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As I sat with my cup of fresh-brewed coffee, reading my Bible and anticipating my day, I struggled with the message in this box.  Is this the point?  Am I looking at it the wrong way?

Then it hit me.

I can’t realize my potential if I don’t know what I am.

I was reminded of a story I once read about a man who was traveling through India.  He was in a small, remote village on the edge of the jungle, and his guide introduced him to a man who trained elephants for labor in the area.  The Indian was known to be the best around, and the guide thought this gentleman would like to hear about his work.

The gentleman noticed a young elephant that had a padded shackle around its ankle.  The shackle was at one end of a thick, heavy chain attached to a large iron stake driven deep into the ground.  The young elephant was pulling and pulling to try and get away, but it could not.

On the other side of the clearing he saw a huge adult elephant that had a similar padded shackle around its ankle.  However, this shackle was tied to a length of rope attached to a small wooden stake that had simply been pressed a few inches into the ground.

The gentleman asked his guide why there was such a disparity between the two sets of bindings.  The guide, not knowing himself, inquired of the Indian trainer as to why these two animals were tied in a way that seemed to make no sense.

The trainer answered, “When they are young, the animal must be tied to an object it cannot move no matter how hard it tries.  After it tires itself from the efforts and accepts its captivity, it can be held with the simplest of bindings.  As long as it feels the shackle, it knows it cannot move.”.

elephant-rope

“As long as it feels the shackle, it knows it cannot move.”

Imagine the potential power in an adult elephant!  Not only would it be able to snap the rope that held it or the wooden stake from the ground, it probably would even be able to break the chain that held it as a child.  But it didn’t know the potential that it had.  It didn’t realize what it really was.

As a Christian, I have been blessed by God to have the security of a home in Heaven one day.  I have the peace of forgiven sins; I have the assurance of my needs being met, and the confidence that I will never be alone.  That’s not all I have though.

For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

-Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

I have a potential in me that can now be realized.  I have an identity in Christ that gives me access to the power of God at work in my life.  Through that power I can do things that I cannot do on my own.  I can snap the sinful bindings that have held me and then do the good things that God created me to do.  The things that He has planned for me to do through His power since before the world was made!

It can’t happen if I don’t realize who I am though.  I have to realize first that I am nothing in myself.  I have to realize that the things in life that have bound me will continue to bind me if I don’t ask Him for the help that will not come from me.  I need to feel so much of God that I don’t feel the shackles.  Then I can be free.

I am a child of the living God.  I am a masterpiece created by Him, redeemed through the power of Christ to do the good works that God has planned for me to do in Christ.  That is my identity.  As I devote myself to relentless growth in Christ, I am seeing the potential I have because of that identity.  It’s not me, but it lives in me.

Do you know who you are?

Do you know your potential?

Reach for it!  Snap the chains and be free!

In HIS Grip,

Tom

Who Are You? Really?

I’ve been talking in my last couple posts about identity.  It seems like it has been coming up everywhere I look.  When I saw this video today I had to watch it, and I wanted to share it.  I’m not saying I have had all of the same thoughts that they so cleverly portray in the clip, but they do a great job of showing some of the things that many of us struggle with.

I have been getting some great insights about my identity from the book I have been reading,  but I have been getting more out of the reading I have been doing in my Bible.

Reading through Ephesians paragraph by paragraph has been challenging me to look at my identity in Christ in a way I never have before. I find myself asking the question, “Who are you?” many times through the day before I make a choice.  I think that is starting to force me to think about my decisions a little more.

I think the second question hits me even harder though.  After I ask the question, I allow an answer and then I pause…  After a couple of heartbeats I then ask, “Really?”  That is the harder question to answer. (I know you are thinking, “He talks to himself too much.  Probably needs some mental help.” You are probably right.)

I am rightReally?

I am hungryReally?

I am in chargeReally?

I am too tiredReally?

I am giving it all I can – Really?

Asking who I am is not always going to be fun.  It gives me a snapshot of where I am in that moment, and frankly, even on my best days it can be like lipstick on a pig.

What I am is redeemed.  What I am is valued.  What I am is growing. What I am is learning.  What I am is FORGIVEN.  What I am is a child of God.

Stopping and thinking about that gives me the strength to make a good choice. The choice may be something that benefits me in some way, or it might benefit someone else.  The important thing is that I take the time to think about it.

My choice is not always easy, but when I really think about it, there is only one choice I have to make.  Do I want to be relentless in my desire to grow in Christ? There is the filter that everything must pass through.

Who am I?    Really?

How about you?

In HIS Grip,

Tom

Happy Birthday to You…

Birthday Cupcake With Lit CandleWell, the day is here.  Relentless Growth is one year old today.  I know that it probably has not shown up on many calendars as any type of national spectacle, but it has happened just the same.  So, what does this mean?

For most of the world, not a whole lot!  For a few, it means that they have had an opportunity to wade through some of the stuff that falls out of my head.  (A lot of which seemed to be about trees) For me, it means something else entirely.

It means that I have stuck with this for a year.  

When I started this blog I was not really sure what I wanted to do with it.  Part of me wanted to be able to reach out to people and connect with them through writing.  I wanted to find new ways to relate and I had hoped that through comments I would get to know some new people and share some thoughts.  That didn’t really happen.  I have gotten to know a few people, but the numbers have been lower than I had thought they would be.

I thought that I had a great plan for how I wanted the blog to look.  I had a name, a palette, what I thought was a nifty tag line, and a killer theme!  I thought that would be a fantastic draw to bring people in so I could get to know them better.  Well, that didn’t really last.  There were lots of changes through the year until I settled (at least for now) on how things look today.

I thought that I was a good writer.  Well, one thing I have learned as the year has worn on is that there are a lot of people out there who are a LOT better at this than I am.  If I am subscribing to one of your blogs you may be one of them!  I have realized that I am a babe in the woods, and I’m really digging into the things you do and how you express yourselves in your writing.  I hope I am learning well…

I thought I could use this blog as a soapbox from time to time.  We all need a place to crow and let our voice be heard, right?  Well, I recently read a great blog about that.  It put a little egg on my face, and I am really going to be thinking about that for awhile.  I see now that if I am going to do this, I need to ask myself why I am writing what I am writing.  What is the goal?

I thought a lot about the promotion of my blog.  I would check in constantly to look at my stats. Seeing that country map fill in with color was the highlight of my day.  Look I got another reader!  Look, I just hit a new record for daily hits!  Look, I got another award or a notification! Wow.

One thing I never thought about is how writing a blog could make me feel narcissistic. 

I never gave it a second thought that the results of my “readership” would make that much of a difference in my day.  I realized about a month and a half ago that it really did make a difference in my day.  Rarely a good one.

Right about that time I gave the blog one more overhaul for theme, colors, banner background, title, and tag line.  I love it.  Not because I finally have the right combination for reaching across the web to the teeming masses.  I probably don’t have that combination locked in yet.  I found MY theme.

Relentless Growth.  It is more than a title.  It is a life plan.  The unstoppable desire to grow and never give up positive change in order to just maintain the status quo.  Get up. Dust off. Regrip. Hit it again.  This blog is no longer about those other things.  It is now a place where I can share my highs and lows as I continue to attack life.

As I continue to study through the book of Ephesians over the next “who knows how long”, I am going to share the things that God is revealing to me for my growth.  Knowing now that the book is primarily about finding our identity in Christ is opening my eyes to new ways to apply it in my heart, mind, and life.

I’m not sure if more people are going to read this blog.  I have finally come to terms with the fact that readership numbers are not the goal.  The purpose in taking the time to write is to improve my skills in sharing the changing power of God in my life.  This is just a small way to reach out to others, but it still does it.

My prayer is that God will use it.  I may never know if it really touches anyone.  I may never know if there has been a change in a life because someone identified with a struggle I shared.  I might never gain a follower again or even pick up a reader or a view, but I will continue to share the story.  It’s not my story.

It’s the story of Christ in me, and me in Him.

I hope this has encouraged you to take minute and think about who you are in God.  Who do you think you are?  Would you want to know if you were wrong?

Happy B-Day, Relentless Growth.  May you have many more.

In HIS Grip,

Tom

There’s A Snake In My Boot!

revo_woody05So we praise God for the wonderful kindness He has poured out on us because we belong to His dearly loved Son.  He is so rich in kindness that He purchased our freedom through the blood of His Son, and our sins are forgiven.  He has showered His kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

– Ephesians 1:6-8 (NLT)

When Toy Story came out back in 1995, I remember watching it and thinking how incredibly talented these computer gurus were in putting together the world that existed in Andy’s Room when he was asleep or away for the day.  The cast, the script, the artwork, they all blended together to tell a funny, but touching story, and I enjoyed it immensely.

A couple years later we had our first child, and then two years after that, our second.  Life was beginning to change for us in so many ways.  We now had responsibilities that we had never thought about before.  Somehow we were responsible for two humans!  It obviously demanded that we grow up a little – if for no other purpose than to stay ahead of them!

Pixar was also growing.  They continued to crank out movies that were a lot of fun, but they were also really trying to help us identify with their characters by giving them even more depth.  The Toy Story guys went to the well two more times and gave us two more glimpses into the life of Andy, his sister, and the toys.

By the time the third film rolled out in 2010, our kids were getting to the age that a lot of their old stuff had taken the one-way trip to the garage sale or Goodwill.  Then, with a 13 & 11 year old, we started to see a whole new aspect in the films.  Time moves on.  Kids grow up.  We only have so long. I’m starting to tear up, better move on to my point before I lose it.

One thing that you see throughout those movies is that the toys struggle with their identity.  I am going to focus on Woody in particular, because he just kept falling into that same trap.  He would see himself for what he was, not for what Andy saw in Him.

I just started reading Mark Driscoll’s book, Who Do You Think You Are? The main point of the book is to help us as Christians find our identity in Christ.  If we don’t find our identity in Christ, we will try to find it in other areas that will leave us feeling hollow, abandoned, and worthless.

Dricoll uses the book of Ephesians and the teaching of Paul to help us see that as believers, our identity can only be truly found in Him.  We might have many things in life that we identify with, but if we do not focus on our position in Christ, we will struggle with a feeling of emptiness in life.

I say a picture of Woody today, and I could not help but think of this identity issue.  He felt his entire world come crashing down around him when Buzz came to town.  He compared himself to Buzz and he found himself lacking.  Why would anyone want an old toy with a pull string when they could have a toy with a lazer!

I compare myself to people too often.  Sometimes I feel like I win the comparison, but more often I feel like the loser.  The thing is, the moment I start comparing, I lose.  I don’t need to compare, because I just need to remember who I am.  I am a child of God!  I need to see myself as He sees me.

Once Woody realizes that he is loved by Andy, and always will be, his attitude changes.  He becomes confident – at least until the next time.  How could my attitude and outlook change if I really and truly saw in myself the value that God sees in me?

God has sought me out so He can pour His kindness into my life.  He is so rich in kindness that I cannot exhaust the supply that He wants to bestow on me.  His kindness is showered on me and gives me the life that I need to grow.  All of this because I belong to Him.

In the movie, Andy writes his name on Woody’s boot to show ownership.  God’s Word tells us that He has written our names in His hand.  He has told us that He has given us an identity in Him.  We are adopted into His family, and nothing can take us from Him.

All that is true.  The problem is that there is a snake in my boot.  That snake casts doubts into my mind about my worth, my past, my failures, my weaknesses…  Then I am right back in the funk again, running around looking for something that will make me happy rather than just looking to God.

I want this year to be a defining year in growing in my identity with Christ.  Every day, I want to be relentless in that growth. To attack it with all that I have. To do the hard things that keep my mind on Him, and allow me to see myself through His eyes.

Join me!  We can help each other by encouraging each other as we go along.  So, find your moving buddy, and remember that you’ve got a friend in me!

In HIS Grip,

Tom

Blank Slates and Buried Hatchets

etchASketchYou are my king and my God.  You command the victories for your people.  Only by Your power can we push back our enemies; only in Your name can we trample our foes.  I do not trust my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me.

Psalm 44:4-6

2014 is here!  Are we all excited?  I’m not sure why, but I always feel a little bit of excitement when the new year hits.  It could be that “clean slate” feeling of a year that is unmarred by mistakes.  Possibilities are there that are just waiting for me to grab and enjoy.  The date of January 1 just makes me feel like I did as a kid and I gave my Etch-a Sketch a really good shaking – Everything is reset! what can I do with this?

I think reality hits somewhere around the 5th of January.  I am finally getting back into the groove after the holidays, vacations are too far away to start getting excited, and I am locked in my house for the winter.  It gives me a chance to think a little more about the year behind as well as the year ahead.

I started a little early this year in my look back. 2013 was a very busy year.  We had a ton of fun on some trips that we took over the summer.  We saw some pretty radical changes in our jobs.  We watched our kids take some big steps as young adults.  God saw fit to bless us in some big ways too.

We also had to deal with some tough stuff.  We had some friends that moved away. We had some pretty significant vehicle problems.  We had friends that had to deal with the loss of a loved one.  We experienced some rough spots with some friends.  Things are not always “fun” in life, but nobody ever promised it would be.

“Things are not always “fun” in life, but nobody ever promised it would be.”

One of the tough things about life is relationships.  Sometimes they are a lot of fun, but other times… You know what I mean.  We all have people in our lives that can cause us some discomfort, irritation, or annoyance, but it is not very often that we would put someone squarely in the category of “enemy”.  Over the last few years, I have been dealing with a person I would put in that category.  Dealing with this person has shown me a real area of character development that I have needed, and while I would not begin to call it a strength, it is getting stronger.

My enemy seemed to do whatever they could to set me up in order to tear me down.  It seemed like every time I would be around them, I would have to keep my eyes open for that bus that I would inevitably be thrown under.  It made things very hard.  Not only was it hard to deal with that person, but with anyone associated with that person.  Every word that came out of my mouth needed to be tempered, filtered, sanitized, and clarified so that it would HOPEFULLY not come back to cut me at the ankles.

No matter how hard I tried, I could not overcome this bad relationship.  No matter what I did, I could not win over this enemy.  I would plan, act, assess, adapt, and act again.  I would confront and then retreat to lick my wounds.  I would avoid in hopes of not being forced into an argument.  Everything I did blew up in my face.  I finally gave up, accepted that I could do nothing, and did the only thing that was left for me to do.

I prayed.  I prayed a lot.  I’m not talking about lofty King James Version type prayers that are meant for inspiration and comfort.  These were gritty King David prayers where I was almost asking for bones to be broken and the blood of my enemies to run cold at the sound of God’s voice coming to my defense.  Were they selfish prayers?  Maybe a little at first.

“I prayed.  I prayed a lot.”

As time went on the prayers changed as I changed.  The prayers started as a childish whine, begging God to step in and fix this because I didn’t like how it made me feel.  I was being mistreated, and I hated it.  I was angry that I was in the situation with this person, and I saw the entire thing as unfair.  As time went on, I began to see things in a different light. I was not angry anymore.  I was just tired.  I had given my all, and I had come up short.  It was a hard pill to swallow.  I didn’t want justice anymore, I was just praying for God to show me the way out.  I wanted peace, and I wanted Him to take me away.  He had another plan.

As the months went by, I just kept praying that I would do the things that God has asked me to do.  I would not look for trouble.  I would not antagonize, I would turn the other cheek, I would not avoid or give reason to doubt me.  I was honest, kind, and supportive to this person.  It was not because I was trying an angle.  I was just trying to be as Christ like as I could with my enemy.  I figured Christ was perfect, and was crucified, and since I am not perfect, anything less than an actual crucifixion would be okay.

This past year, something finally changed.  My enemy changed.  While they still may not be a close friend, I can honestly say that I no longer see them as someone who is out to bring me harm.  I have enjoyed some great conversations with them that have given me a reassurance that they now see me in a different light as well.  I have a peace with them that did not come through me.

You might argue that I did the right things, and that is why things worked out, but I don’t believe that.  I had used my bow. I had used my sword.  I had used all the strength I had in me, and I came up short.  The only thing I did right was that I stayed under the load and gave the fight to God.  He gave me the victory.

“The only thing I did right was that I stayed under the load and gave the fight to God.”

I’m not saying there aren’t times to fight.  There are.  As I look ahead to this “blank slate” of a year, I already see some looming battles on the horizon.  Most of them will be battles that will be waged privately with my own selfish desires, but there are more coming.  I can’t say I see enemies, but I see opportunities to stand and do the right thing.  I see chances to speak the truth in love where it may not be wanted.  I see struggle, and I have a choice to make.

I have a weakness in me that demands my voice to be heard and my rights to be upheld.  I seek justice for myself and the conviction of those who have brought things against me.  That is not the man I want to be.  That is not Christ.

I want to be relentless in my growth in Christ.  I want to go after the things He has for my life with all the power I have.  But I also need to remember that there are battles that I will be involved in where my role is to endure as God does the work around me even while I am hurting.  It will take discipline, hard work, sweat, and probably some tears. I’m not going to give up though.  I have had the taste of a victory.

In HIS Grip,

Tom