I think we all like to be in control. The desire to be in full control of all aspects of life is something that I struggle with and have most of my life. In the last few years, I have found myself enjoying reading more than I have ever had before. What I love about reading is that the author has total control of the words that you read. In fiction works the author controls the plot, conflict, protagonist, antagonist, etc. In nonfiction books, the author controls the ideas that are being presented and the ways in which the author presents these ideas. When an author writes they have full control over the what occurs on the pages of any given book.

In relation to authors and books, I often feel that I want to be the own author of my life most days. I want to be in control of what happens, and I want the best for myself. I want to be the hero of my story, and I also want to write my story. We all have a strong desire to be in control of life, and while there are things that we can control there are many things we have zero control over. I have found myself many times in situations where I wanted so badly to control the outcome, but also knew in the midst of it there was no way that I could. Have you ever been in that place of fear? A place that forces you to realize that there must be something greater in control of the story of our lives. I have. While this can be scary, it is also freeing. There is freedom found in allowing the better author than yourself write your story. The story that God has for you. When we become a part of the family of God and are children of God, we are now apart of the greatest story ever written. The story of salvation in Jesus. In this story, we no longer have to try and be the hero because Christ has become our greatest hero through His work on the Cross. What’s beautiful about the hero of Christ is that He is a hero we can trust in ALL circumstances. In trusting Him as the hero and author of our story, we find freedom. A freedom that gives peace in the chaotic world we live. The freedom that I’m referring to is the ability to not hold on to what’s safe, and what’s comfortable but to let go, and go after what He is leading you towards. We find freedom in understanding how fragile and temporary the life we live is. Inside of this freedom, we can see who we truly are, by letting go of the fear of the unknown. It has been said that everyone dies, but not everyone truly lives. How resonating that is. Sometimes we need just to go, leave it all behind and simply be free. I believe that the most exhilarating feeling a person can have is the moment right before freedom comes. It’s kind of like when you are standing on something very high above a body of water,  and you make the decision to jump in. That moment as you run towards the edge and right before you leap into just air.. the rush of freedom hits. This freedom is the freedom that you can find when you allow God to be the author of your life because of your trust in Him and what He has done through Jesus on the cross. Though you may not be in control of the situation, nor are writing the story, but Jesus is, and He is a way better writer and author than you could ever hope or want to be. So put down the pen and let there be freedom found in knowing you aren’t in control but He who is greater is in total control.

For the longest time in my Christian walk, I don’t think I understood what it meant to find freedom in Christ. For me, and maybe for many of you, Christianity was more of a “do” faith than a “done” faith.  I would go to church, and I would be involved with events going on within the church. I made sure that I was “good” and tried not to do anything that would mess up my reputation.  I put on a good face and an image of something that was only real on the surface, but deep down there was a much greater battle going on within. It seemed to be that for me I found more identity in trying to be good than I did finding identity in Christ.

When we live in a faith that continues to be about us doing good, this inevitably forces us to focus on the things that are bad.  What I mean by this is that for instance when you become so consumed with not sinning, it is sin that becomes the focus of your faith. Now, this is not to say that we should not strive to be holy and not sin, but I am saying that instead of allowing yourself to and what you do be the center of your faith, instead allow Christ and the one who as already done be the center of your faith. There is freedom found in having Christ be at the heart of all of our thoughts, words, and actions. It is impossible for you to find this freedom when you are trying to create freedom for yourself.

By letting Christ give you freedom you then begin to become more understanding of what it means to be a new creation in Christ.  You are now no longer working and trying to be something that appears to be good, but you are now finding rest in understanding that the focus is always on Christ and not on self. In this freedom is the producing of joy, peace, comfort, understanding, satisfaction and hope. We find joy now knowing that Christ has already done the work and appeased God with sacrifice on the cross. The work that Christ did is and was enough. In freedom finds rest, rest in the work of Jesus Christ.

It can be scary to let God invade your life and take over, but I ask aren’t you tired? Aren’t you sick of living a life that is you continuing to work, try, and attempt to be and do something you were never going to be able to do? I was at this point and began to realize that I will only ever find true freedom when I rest in the arms of Jesus knowing that He has done more than I could ever do. Are you living in a “do” faith where you are continually doing and trying, or are you living in a “done” faith where you let the finished work of Christ be the guiding light of your life? There is freedom found in living in the “done” trust in Him and find the freedom you have been seeking for.

I recently was having a conversation with my Dad. For those that know me, My Dad and I don’t have the closest relationship. My Dad over the years has made a lot of mistakes that negatively affected him, me, and my Mom.  In this conversation, we began to talk about God and forgiveness. With many of the classes I take in college being on the study of Christianity and theology, he asked me the question: “Blake, your professors, have a lot of knowledge of God and books, but ask them this, how do I forgive myself for all the wrong that I’ve done?” I can confidently say at that moment I had no answer. The natural thing for me would be to say, “Give it to Jesus” but I believe that it’s much deeper than that.

In my life, I have met some amazing people. People that have challenged me to be better and people that have challenged me to change and to seek after Christ. It is because of the friendships that I have made that are centered around Christ that I’ve seen myself grow the most in the Lord.  I mention this because I believe it is through Christian community and Christian friendships that we grow the most.  What I mean by this is that when I have made mistakes, and am in times that I am hurting it has been the community of Christian friends that I have that have led me back to the cross.  What can easily happen for Christians is that many times they are not surrounded by a community of believers and friends that lead them to Christ before all else.  When we do not have a community around us, often isolation occurs, and a person is forced to attempt to deal with whatever they are struggling with. I believe that isolation is a friend of the enemy and is used by him to make us believe lies that we tell ourselves. The whole purpose of the grace of God is to give a forgiveness and a redefining of who we are.  When we redefine our identity to be in Christ, we can never go back to the identity that we once held before. Christian friendship should seek to help others sustain their identity in the foundation that is Christ.

I believe there are three primary goals to Christian friendship and friendship in general:

To Listen
To Lift
To Lead

We first must be an open ear to our friends and listen to the struggles, and even the joys that people are going through. When we have heard either the struggles or the joys, we then lift them up with encouragement that shows the care we have for them. And lastly, we lead them to Christ showing Him as the solution to the struggle, or the reason for the joy. The ultimate hope of Christian friendship is to walk the path’s of life with others and lead them to the path that leads to Calvary. The reason that my Dad struggles with forgiveness is that he does not have Christian friends that are showing him Christ, to whom he can give all his woes to. My hope in your reading this is that if you do not have friends that listen to you, lift you up, and lead you to Christ then I pray that you would seek out these kinds of friendships.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 states:

“The Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”

Are you a friend that listens, lifts, and leads? And do you have friends that listen, lift, and lead? Let’s all be people that remain in Christ and be Christ to the friends, and everyday people around us.

Heartbreak: It can weaken even the strongest person. It will bring about doubts, confusion, and sadness. It creates within the mind a questioning of why and how. It can bring about tears, sadness, sleepless nights and bring you into a world that seems alone. It can come by way of the ending of a relationship, the death of a family member, the loss of a job, diagnosis of sickness, etc. Nobody is immune to heartbreak. I’ve seen heartbreak change the way people live, the way people trust, and the way people think. What heartbreak usually does is take away something from our lives that we feel like we have to have, or something that has become a part of our lives that we don’t want to live without. But aside from the negatives of heartbreak what can be learned from heartbreak? Inside of heartbreak can be found the understanding of what scripture references as the glory to be revealed to us.

Romans 8:18 states: For I consider the current sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

This verse gives hope to the person that is struggling with any form of loss that causes heartbreak.

  • For the person that has lost a loved one, this verse gives you hope.
  • For the person that has just gotten out of a relationship, this verse gives you hope. For the person that has just recently lost a job this verse gives you hope.
  • For the person that is just struggling with the day in and day out of life, this verse gives you hope.

When reading this verse what must be understood is that the hard times may continue. The glory to be revealed is not necessarily a pleasure that will be received on earth.  Paul here is saying that his understanding of satisfaction is an eternal one. A satisfaction that even the struggles of earth cannot affect. John Piper refers to this as a Faith in Future Grace. Piper writes “God’s future grace towards us was purchased and guaranteed by his past grace toward us in Jesus’ death and resurrection.”[1]  We have been given grace through Christ which is a gift that cannot be lost. When we place our faith in the eternity we will one day have with God we then see that the current sufferings can’t be compared. This means that for us we must have faith in this coming glory, a faith that the promises God has given to us will come to fruition when we leave this life and move into eternity.  None of this is said to downplay the pains of heartbreak or the losses that you may be going through. What this is meant to do is give you a great hope, hope that can help you cope with and deal with the pain that you may be feeling right now. What’s so beautiful about the glory in Jesus is that in this life we can lose everything, and still the salvation, and faith in the coming eternity with Him cannot be taken from us. It is in the midst of heartbreak that God can use these moments of desperation to draw you closer to Him. So take a moment and breathe, call out to Him. Realize that despite the current struggles and pains these are merely just heartbreaks in the midst of eternity with a God that is calling you closer to Him every day. The glory to be revealed will be much greater than the pain you are feeling currently.

 

[1]John Piper, Battling Unbelief, (Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books), 17-18.