"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, July 22, 2011

DON'T STAY IN THE SHADE

Hebrews 12:3 (NIV) "Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."


By 11:30am the heat already scorched us. My nine year old son and I were partners and my other two boys doubled up while we played Badminton. Back and forth the volley went as we reached and whacked the birdie. Before long I noticed my teammate wasn't really participating. I reached and moved into his side of the court to smack the birdie. Finally, the birdie fell on the grass as it was way out of my reach, but it only landed about three feet from my son.

I gave him a questioning look and said, "Why didn't you get it? It's practically right next to you and you didn't even reach for it."

He let out a long sigh and with exasperation in his voice said, "It's too hot in the sun, mom. I need to rest in the shade." So he moved over to the far side of the court that just started to receive the shade from our fruit trees.

To this I responded, "Well, how long do you need to rest in the shade, because I need your help here bud?" It wasn't long before he joined me and we prevailed against our foes!

Following our game it struck me; sometimes we do need to rest in the shade. Life can scorch us while its demands overwhelm us. Discouragement dwindles our effort to persevere. The mundane can derail our attempts to move forward. The heat hinders our motivation to press on.

Shade provides the respite our soul needs. Stepping to the side can refuel our tank. Moving from direct heat refreshes our spirit. Resting can renew our passion to serve. Taking a break re-energizes our perspective and purpose. Shade is vital, but we cannot stay there.

Hebrews 12:3 records a powerful truth that inspires us to persevere. The author says, "Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Jesus underwent intense ridicule from immoral men. Like the faithful who had gone before, Jesus was persecuted, mistreated, mocked, jeered, flogged, rejected, betrayed and ultimately crucified: the world was not worthy of Him (Hebrews 11:36-38). Christ's example motivates us to run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Just two days ago I shed tears over the difficulty of my day-to-day. I struggled to persevere. My responses were short, reactions snippy, and my smile, gone. I had a few extra items on my plate, doctor appointments to attend, insurance papers to fill out, bills to pay and maintain a 'perfect' house for real estate agents to show.

Determined to push forward I forced myself to consider the big picture; to step aside into the shade for a moment to cool off. For me, this big picture is the reality that everything will work out; don't sweat the small stuff; I can't do it all; and learn to relax for goodness sake! This perspective allowed me to move past feeling overwhelmed with all I needed to accomplish; I could rest in His grace even though my list wasn't accomplished. Learning to take one day at a time certainly requires experience.

Perseverance is necessary to overcome life's difficulties. We cannot allow the enemy to defeat us and bring us to despair. When we reflect on what Christ has endured, it should keep us moving forward. Internalizing His love and redemptive work motivates us beyond the 'day-to-day'. Realizing the big picture allows us to keep our perspective in focus.

Do not give up friends. Be found faithful to the finish. Rest when you need, but don't stay in the shade.



Heart Work:
Ask God to strengthen you to persevere through the day-to-day. Rely on His Holy Spirit to comfort you when discouraged and to motivate you forward. Press On!!!

Write down two specifics items you currently struggle with. Pray over them each day this week. Ask God to refresh your spirit by reflecting on the example of Christ.

Heart Exam
When are you tempted to give up? What pushes you forward?

Why persevere? What is the point of facing difficulty head on? Will you be faithful to finish?

Do you need to rest in the shade for awhile or is it time to get in the sun and participate?


Heart Changing Word:
Philippians 3:13 "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Galatians 6:9 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Hebrews 10:36 "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised."

Hebrews 12:1 "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

James 1:3-4 "Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

James 1:12 "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."

Luke 8:15 "But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop."




Copyright 2011 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.