Standing at the Crossroad

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Up until today, I would describe my journey-to-better as exciting. I’ve eaten better – and written more – this past couple of weeks than I have in a long while. It’s felt good knowing I am finally doing something to help myself get back on track with both my eating and my call to writing – the two areas I struggle with most.

But today? Today, I’m tired. I’m tired of cooking. Tired of avoiding sugar-free coffee creamers laden with artificial sweeteners. Tired of passing on concession food and quick, convenient fast-food meals. Tired of planning ahead and packing lunchboxes filled with healthy, precooked options.

Yes, I know. These are all good things for me to do. But I’m still tired of doing them.

Why? Because doing these good things – making these wise choices – requires effort on my part. And lots of it. Though I know – if continued – they’ll spur me on to victory, I still find myself growing weary of them. And because I’m growing weary, I’m also growing fearful.

As fear creeps in, I hear it whispering discouragement in my ear. You can’t do this! It’s too hard. It requires too much. You simply don’t have time.  As those untruths settle into my fatigued heart, fear punches me with the biggest lie yet. You’re about to blow this thing – again!

A few days ago, I fell short of reaching my daily writing goal of 500 words. I accepted a challenge to write 500 words a day for 30 days straight; twelve days in, I failed the challenge. I felt defeated. I had not done what I set out to do. Once again, I had allowed the urgencies of life to sidetrack me from matters of greater importance. And once again, I sensed fear nudging its way in.

So I stand before you today, facing a crossroad. Where do I go from here?

Boldly looking within myself, I acknowledge the magnitude of weakness staring back at me. But as daunting as it seems, I absolutely must not succumb to failure. Though I’m tired and weary and afraid, I must pick myself up, dust off my jeans, dig my heels in deeper and try again.

Yes, the honeymoon phase is over. The excitement is fading. The reality that this is real, hard work is setting in. Not only that, but the reality that this real, hard work isn’t short-term. This is something I desire for myself from here on out.

I’m holding out hope that sometime soon today’s difficult choices will become second nature – both to me and to those walking this road with me.  When that day arrives, each of us will joyfully look back, knowing it was worth the effort.

But until then, as we tackle the uphill leg of this journey, we need something to strengthen our resolve. Something to hold onto. Something to keep us moving in the right direction.

More than that, we need someONE. Someone who’ll walk with us. Someone who’ll walk ahead of us. Someone who’ll lead us on to victory.

Friend, if we want to pull through the muck, land in places of success and remain there, we absolutely must stick close to the One who’s capable of guiding us into those places.

That’s how we do it. Walking together. Walking with Him.

Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow.” Proverbs 3:6 (CEV)

When Connection is All You Really Need

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Shoes skidding, whistles blowing, balls slamming the floor – yet, I heard nothing. My eyes remained fixed on the keyboard carefully positioned in my lap hours earlier. An awkward makeshift desk, yes, but my desk wasn’t the issue. The issue was an impending deadline and the lack of internet necessary to make it happen.

The internet connection available inside the high school gym was sparse at best. I struggled and fought with it, all the while aware of the moments edging closer and closer to my cutoff. At this pace, I would never be done in time.

My reputation was on the line. My anxiety was on the rise. What should I do? What possible solutions should I consider?

Did I have time to pack up my office supplies, drive to the nearest coffee shop, unpack my belongings, get back on task, and complete my assignment prior to the encroaching deadline?  I had no choice.  I had to try.

As quickly as possible, I made the necessary arrangements and slid out the door, set on conquering this problem.

I whipped into the coffee shop, placed a quick order (might as well, right?), and focused on the task at hand.

I lost a valuable 30 minutes in the process, but I was hopeful I would make up for it. Much to my relief, I did. I submitted my assignment with a mere three minutes to spare. Whew!  A little too close, but it was done.

As I made my way back to the gym, feelings of relief and thankfulness washed over me.

I began to think about the difference a good internet connection makes. It is often the difference between met and unmet expectations. Between success and failure. Between peace and anxiety.

That’s when it struck me.

The difference in accessing a good – or not so good – internet connection is much like the difference in living a life closely connected to God versus one loosely – if at all – connected to Him.

When we walk closely to our Father –spending time with Him in prayer, filling our minds and hearts with His Word, seeking after Him — our lives can’t help but be different.

Different in how we respond to negative situations; in how we interact with others; in how we handle our day to day grind; in how we walk through life’s hardest circumstances.

The better we know God, the more we’re able to trust Him. The more we trust Him, the more we’re willing to take our cares to Him. And the more cares we take to Him, the more we learn to lean on Him, to rely on Him, to stay connected to Him.

It’s in that place of connection we discover the peace and contentment needed to live this life well.

It’s there we find ourselves capable of somehow surviving those terrible, unimaginable moments that are sure to come.

It’s there we’re able to recognize God’s goodness and grace in the midst of it all.

So the next time we find ourselves frustrated with the demands of life, may we pause, breathe deeply and utter a quiet, humble prayer.

May we open His word, eager to hear from Him.

May we resolve to place ourselves in a position of connectivity with God. For it’s there our needs are finally, fully met.

Friend, how will you choose to connect with God today?

What changes will you make this week to strengthen that connection?

Take a moment to comment below so others may be encouraged by your commitment.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15: 4-5 (NIV)