Who do you love? Who matters to you?
How would you know? They would be your hardest good-bye.
In Acts 20-21 we read of the love Paul had for those he struggled most over. Paul served with great humility and he writes of severe testing. In verse 36-37 of Acts 20 it says, “When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They wept as they embraced him and kissed him.”
The next chapter begins with, “After we had torn ourselves away from them,” suggesting this is one of Paul’s hardest goodbyes.
When is the last time you held fast to someone and their only option was to tear away?
Paul knew struggle first hand. Do you? If you are breathing you must have some affection or love. We so often only love till the relationship burns. Sleeplessness sets in and your mind won’t turn off.
In the dead of night a thought comes. How do I know this struggle matters? This marriage, this family, this relationship, is it worth the struggle? Or is it too much drama? When does it not matter anymore? What matters most?
I recently read a fantastic blog on marriage by Jonathan Rogers and one sentence struck me. “No one knows what lies ahead.” Saul couldn’t have known salvation and persecution for the gospel would be ahead when he set out to destroy the followers of Christ. Neither do you or I know what lies ahead. I don’t anticipate the tough days in the morning and only a few times could I foresee the pain or struggle before me.
Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life. Proverbs 4:23
If God doesn’t matter to you and you align yourself with those indifferent, placid about birthrights, no blessing comes. To you who care, almost too much; yes, to you blessing comes. Need a reference? See the story of Jacob and Esau. God was everything to Jacob and he recieved the blessing. Even Saul who hated all Christ did made much of God. The Messiah mattered to him, however misguided. To Saul salvation comes. What matters to you? Read Jesus words to Laodicea, “I wish you were hot or cold.”
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you, for those in Laodicea, and for all who have not seen me in person. I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery Christ. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him. Colossians 2:1-3
Who is worth a great struggle to you?
In James 5 it exhorts us to stand firm and be patient. What difficult opposing truths when our hot-blooded love is flowing! But I believe in the simplicity of Christ’s wisdom. Stand firm. Stay in the game. You may not be the most talented it may not be the popular choice but your calling is never about that! Your calling is an invitation to love. When I’m tempted to fold I remember the faces. Their faces when they have come for prayer. I envision them becoming a generation stronger than my own who matter much to God.
In closing, here are 3 ways to guard what matters to you.
1) Check your motives.
Do you long for the hearts of your team, family, group of kids or students to be encouraged? Do your efforts lead toward unity? Inclusive rather than exclusive is the goal. Stand firm and true to who you are and what you believe. Speaking truth is the most valuable gift you can offer to those around you. Go ahead and have the hard conversation. Be vulnerable with your heart as Proverbs reminds us the wounds of a friend are much better than the kisses of your enemy.
2) Be patient.
Listen to others. Wait. Wait on God and his timing. Remember to allow time for true change and real impact. Don’t quit while you wait. Stay your course. Success isn’t just results it is an effective others honoring process.
3) Take a look at who/what you love.
Yes love. Make a list of the activities you are involved in and joy results. Strengthen yourself with truth. He who begun a good work in you will complete it. (Phil 1:6) Reveal your heart to the Lord as David does in Ps 62. While reading take a sketch pad or notebook and actively remind yourself who God is. Be at peace and free from agitation as you read and lean into trusting God. His peace is available to you in the thickness of the struggle. His goodness is vast and available.
of God is vast
and consuming. —James Bryan Smith
This gives you an opportunity to be consumed with Christ rather than the challenges. In Psalm 23 the word is clear.