When Guilt, Pain and Stress Come Knocking…

By JMathis

There is guilt in my parenting. (“Mommy, how come I’m the last one to be picked up from school?”)

There is pain in my marriage. (“Why would he bring that up when he knows how much it hurts me?”)

There is stress at my workplace. (“For once, I would love to walk into a Monday where I don’t have a gnawing pit in my stomach from the night before.”)

When I was young and full of ambitions and dreams, there was never even the slightest inkling of guilt, pain or stress in my future.

Yet, there they are, faithful to the end–in good times and bad, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health: guilt, pain and stress.

What’s the point of being a Christian if all that follows me is guilt, pain and stress? What is the purpose of taking up His cross when I never seem to get rid of this guilt, pain and stress? Why is guilt, pain and stress the defining cornerstone of so many days of my existence here on earth?

Because I’m forgetting. And, Lord, forgive me for always forgetting, but I find again that I am forgetting.

Forgetting who I am.

Forgetting whose I am.

I look to the Word for answers, and I come face-to-face with Paul.

Ahh, Paul. Have I ever told you how much Paul annoys me? Not quite my nemesis, but definitely someone I don’t want crashing my dinner party.

Give me my Abraham, David and Peter—my fallen heroes who are human, just like me. But Paul, Lord? He’s always so sanctimonious and self-righteous, Lord! Why Paul, Lord?

Really, Lord, really?

Yes, really.

Because all that seemed to follow him was guilt, pain and stress.

Guilt over the murder of thousands of Christians before his conversion:

For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church.” 1 Corinthians 15:9

Pain over the fact that the church he first built now insulted him and questioned his authority:

For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you”. 2 Corinthians 2:4

Stress over constant persecution, imprisonment and torture:

“…We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; we are  perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”  2 Corinthians 4:8-10.

All that followed Paul was guilt, pain and stress.

But the difference between him and me is that he never forgot.

Never forgot who he was.

Never forgot whose he was.

When you forget your New Covenant that you entered into with Christ:

1)      You forget how to walk through life boldly and confidently. (“Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” 2 Corinthians 3:12)

2)      You forget how to experience intimacy with your Creator. (“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:16-17)

3)      You forget that life is not about jumping from difficulty to difficulty, but being changed more and more into His likeness. (“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Corinthians 3:16-17)

Isn’t it time you stopped forgetting, and started remembering?

Isn’t it time to live life passionately, intimately and continuously refreshed?

I’m ready. Are you?

Questions:

When was the last time you experienced any of guilt, pain or stress?

Do you ever feel that life is about moving from one hardship to the next?

When was the last time you walked through life boldly and confidently?

When was the last time you experienced intimacy with your Creator?

When was the last time you felt transformed and renewed by the Holy Spirit?

Challenge:

This week, write down a scripture on a notecard that renews your spirit. Turn to it each time you are chased down by guilt, pain or stress. Meditate on the scripture when the darkness tries to overtake you, and believe in faith that your situation is being transformed–that your life is being changed for the better.

Just a Walk

By JMathis

Enoch lived in a fallen world, too.

In fact, his world was so corrupt that God was hell-bent on destroying it. Genesis 6:7

It wasn’t an iPhone® culture like ours, but it had all of the same lewdness, deceitfulness and greed that plagues our world even until today.

He lived in pretty dark times, and yet, Enoch managed to walk with God.

Everyday. Even while being a dad. Genesis 5:22

Maybe the pressures of that world were too great. Maybe being a parent wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. Or, maybe Enoch just always knew he was in need of a Savior.

Whatever it was, he made it a point to know God intimately. Especially in a time when people could care less about God and what He thought.

That’s what makes Enoch the real deal. A true authentic.

He walked so closely with God that he marched directly into heaven. Didn’t even pass ‘GO’…just walked right on through to the other side. Genesis 5:24

I wish I were the real deal. A true authentic.

For the most part, though, I’m just a Sunday morning Christian who can’t really imagine being that close with God and knowing Him in that way.

Life just seems too fast-paced. I can barely keep up with my thoughts. It’s a miracle that I can even keep myself together.

That’s what it’s like in our God-less culture.

It’s about scraping through the day-to-day and barely keeping it together. Everyday seeming more dissatisfying than the last.

Who has time for God? Who has time nowadays to be the real deal? A true authentic?

With such little time that we devote daily to our Creator, are we all just paying lip service to the fact that we’re Christians?

Is God just our get-out-of-jail card? Our just-in-case for the after-life? Our meal ticket out of here?

What a charade. What games we play with God.

Maybe we all missed the boat on this one. Maybe we all got it backwards.

Maybe life is more than just scraping through the day-to-day and barely keeping it together.

Maybe it’s about being the real deal. A true authentic. In a time and age that doesn’t value those qualities in you.

It’s overwhelming. I know. But maybe it’s about starting with baby-steps.

God doesn’t need us to be marathon runners on Day 1. He doesn’t need us to win the Olympic gold in sprinting by Day 2. He doesn’t need us to be an Abraham or a Paul by Day 3.

He just wants us to walk with Him. Everyday. Little by little. Baby-step by baby-step.

No pressure. No strings attached. Just a walk.

Aren’t you ready to be the real deal? To be a true authentic?

Aren’t you sick of the tugging, the pulling, the pushing and the shoving of this world?

I know I am.

So, let’s do this. Together. No over-thinking it. No over-spiritualizing it. No announcing it on Facebook.

Just a walk.

Everyday.

Little by little.

Baby-step by baby-step.

He just wants us to walk with Him.