Life is Hard…But I Want Easy

I was thinking about this on the way in to work the other morning. I brought my gym bag to work again…for the bazillionath time, I might add, but the odds of my actually working out are slim to none, if we’re judging by my workout schedule of late. What has my workout schedule been of late, you ask? Well…pretty nonexistent.

So as I was walking in to the building I was thinking about going to the gym sometime during the day and I felt that little pang of excitement you sometimes get at the prospect of something new…do you know what I’m talking about? Anyway, I had that little burst of excitement and then almost in the exact same instant I felt fear and anxiety and said to myself, “it’s going to be really hard to do a workout today.”

Hard. It’s a pretty small word – but it’s so powerful, isn’t it? As soon as the thought crossed my mind I lost all sense of excitement about working out. Why do we do that, I wonder? And why do we let our minds psych us out so easily? And is it just me?

I look at other people and I wish I could be as motivated or as determined as them. We watched the movie “Moana” the other night (for the fifth or so time), and I found myself wondering what it would be like to jump on a little canoe sailboat thing and just take off. Ok, well not that necessarily, because I don’t know how to sail, I get motion sick, and I have a slight fear of open water…but what about just learning a new skill or hobby? Or taking a new assignment at work doing something I’m not familiar with? Or something much easier, like just getting back into the routine of going to the gym?

All my life I’ve taken the easy route…every time I’ve been faced with something potentially hard I quit. I had the opportunity in college to study abroad in Germany – I put in the application and was getting ready to go, but at the last minute some of the requirements changed and the cost went up. Instead of knuckling down and figuring things out, I backed out and never studied abroad.

I’ve been good at a lot of things – but I never had the desire to study just one thing hard enough to be great at it. I could have graduated college with honors, but it was too hard to study every night and so I simply just graduated. I have a talent for learning foreign languages but I didn’t want to put in the maximum effort required to actually strive towards fluency in those languages. I love to write – I adore it, really – and I think I’m pretty good at it…but because it’s “too hard” to make time to write and I’d rather sleep than stay up late or wake up early, I just tend to whine about not having time to write.

The thing is – life got pretty hard for my husband and me shortly after we got married…and honestly, it hasn’t really stopped. Every time I think we might be pulling ourselves out of a stressful situation, something else seems to hit us and knock us back down. We’ve dealt with it – but I wouldn’t say successfully. We manage. We survive, but we don’t thrive. And despite us having talked about this multiple times over the past few years, I don’t know what it would take for us to thrive. Life is hard…but I want it to be easy. I want to not have anything to worry about. I want to not have to work so hard. To quote Bing Crosy in Holiday Inn…”I want to be lazy”.

I know that’s not the answer. Lazy is boring when you do it for too long. The trouble is, I don’t know what the answer is. I’ve been praying about it – praying for direction, praying for guidance, praying for motivation…and once I thought about it for a bit, I realized that’s the best thing I can be doing. And I realized I can’t be the only person who struggles with this. So will you join me? Will you get down on your knees before God and pray for the desire to accept the hard? To not wish away life while you’re dreaming of easy?

“Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NCV)

Uncomfortably Honest

2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, if they will pray and seek me and stop their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.” (NCV)

I read these verses the other day and immediately my heart turned to someone in my life with whom I am currently struggling. “Oh Lord,” I prayed, “please speak to this person and let them humble themselves and turn from their wicked ways and return to you.”

But halfway through this prayer for this person to “turn from their wicked ways”, another thought popped into my head. Should I be focusing this prayer on myself instead?

In this situation where I believe I am being wronged, and I truly believe I am following God’s ways in this particular situation, shouldn’t I be praying for the other person’s eyes to be opened to the situation at hand? Shouldn’t I be praying for them to turn from their ways and turn towards God?

Maybe not.

Maybe what God is trying to tell me with this verse is that I need to not focus so hard on the other person, but instead turn that spotlight inward, towards myself. Matthew 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (NIV) What wicked ways do I need to turn from? What are those black spots in my mind and on my heart that I need to confess to God and allow Him to clean me up from the inside out? What are the areas in my own life where I need to humble myself to God and pray and seek His face?

Anger/Resentment: my feelings of being wronged and feeling like I am the victim will not only turn to anger if I don’t confront and confess them, but eventually could turn to resentment, hurting nobody but myself

Doubt: doubting God’s plan for my life

Envy: I’ve struggled with various forms of envy my entire life

Fear: instead of trusting in God, I’ve found myself crippled with fear over all the things that COULD happen, instead of focusing on what GOD will make happen and trusting that whatever that is will be what’s best for me

Looks like I have enough of my own things to confess to God, to humble myself before Him, to seek His face and to pray and to turn from these wicked thoughts which are not from God.

Dear Lord, I come to you humbled and broken, a sinner in need of redemption. Please help me to turn from my sins and turn from the things that are not from you. Please forgive me and help me to remember that you are perfect and you are in control. Forgive me for my anger, my doubt, my envy and my fear. Please fill me with your peace and your love and help me to live as an example of you. Thank you for these words and this reminder. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

uncomfortably honest

Prayer for the World – Prayercast

eatwriterunrepeat.com || isaiah 56_7

The speaker at my Perspectives course posed a very interesting question in class on Sunday. He asked:

If God answers all of your prayers from last week, would YOUR world change? Or would THE world change?”

Wow, right? Did anyone else feel that? It was the feel of conviction breathing down my neck. And it made me realize how largely selfish my prayers are. Up until recently my prayers have been focused on mine and my husbands circumstances – I’ve been praying for God to help US, and bless US, and take away OUR pain and OUR struggles and OUR anxieties. And while I’ve started to pray for my family as well, it’s still all very selfish of me. Very rarely do I pray for people or things outside of my own personal bubble.

One thing we’ve done in Perspectives that I’ve really enjoyed, however, is that each week we pray for a different country via Prayercast. From the website, “Prayercast exists to fuel a global movement of prayer for the sake of the lost.” The Bible tells us a few things about praying for the nations. For example:

Isaiah 56:7 “My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”

1 Timothy 2:1-2 “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgiving, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in godliness and dignity.”

And not only are we to be praying for the nations, but we are to be spreading the Gospel to all nations: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14 (emphasis mine), and making disciples of all nations in The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Our sole purpose in life is to spread the gospel of the Lord to all the nations – and a huge part of this should include praying for a spiritual revival throughout the world – which brings us back to Prayercast. For each country featured on the website you find a summary of the country, some prayer points, and a short video. They’re pretty powerful – and it’s a sobering reminder that our world is in dire need of prayer. It’s also a visual reminder, which for me puts things in perspective and makes it easier for me to pray. I’d like to get better at praying for others instead of focusing on myself – I’d like to get to the point where if God answers all my prayers from last week, THE world will change.

My challenge to you today is this: will you join me? Will you take a few minutes, check out the prayercast website, and pick a country – any country. Then, take some time to review the facts and watch the video, then spend some time in prayer for that country.

Imagine what a difference it could make in the world.

I’ll close by sharing a video that really struck me when we watched it. In addition to nation videos, Prayercast also has a series of “Special videos” that don’t necessarily focus on a country. This one is for the Muslim nations – primarily the Middle East and North Africa. Having spent several years living in the Middle East, this video spoke to my heart.

(If the above video doesn’t work, watch it on the Prayercast website here)