Driving through southern Alabama, there was a car dealership that boasts a rather large United States flag. Billowing at full staff, it was absolutely majestic as it seemed to cover the full span of the highway. Though our destination was set and our conversation was fully engaged, it interrupted our thoughts and the image has remained with us. Inspiration can be found in that moment, posing the question “Are we that captivating and impactful given such a small window of time?”
The freedom in which the flag moved with the wind is similar to our longing to be aligned with the flow of grace. Recalling an illustration that someone shared with us some time ago, “the Holy Spirit is like the wind – you cannot see it, only evidence of its presence.” Imagine that peace and freedom that you experience when you’re in alignment, when you move in the rhythm and flow of grace. What does that look like in your life? Do others get to experience such grace when they are in your presence?
For some, having this type of experience is a foreign concept. Yes, it requires work and persistence, but more importantly it requires vulnerability. Will you humble yourself and seek God?
We are grateful for the reminder that humility is the seed for forgiveness, and forgiveness is the seed for peace and freedom. These fruit that we bear benefits us and those around us.
There was a pivotal point in the development of our friendship where I saw something very compelling in James’ character that gave me so much peace. God’s presence in him was so profound, conveying the message to me that I could share my testimony with James with no fear of condemnation. This testimony was really a deliverance that I received and held it secretly, and vowed that I would carry it to death. Again, there was something compelling in James’ character that led me to openly share. When I decided to do so, I told him that I had something important to share with him, and asked him for his time. When we met, I started our conversation with the Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…” As I read through to verse eight, tears began to flow as I softly yet confidently began to share my story of deliverance. I have not been able to remember his words from that moment, but it was my courage (obedience) to share, along with his disposition and the way he chose to respond that made the experience liberating.
What we have learned about time and change is that they are common to all and inevitable. They are gifts, however our inability to recognize them or understand them as such will result in misuse. Time is a conduit for change meaning that it brings forth change. Your decisions act as a catalyst for change. Imagine time being a tube, change being a flow of energy and your decisions being a valve. As energy flows throw the tube, your decisions can intensify the flow and type of energy that is released. Like energy, change must travel, because it is progressive. The results of the change that you see are a reflection of the person you were at the time you made your decision. Recognizing and receiving time and change as the gifts that they are, along with who I was when I made the decision to share what God had done for me allowed me to see the difference and the changes that took place between deliverance and a something far greater – FREEDOM
You read that correctly, and it is not a jocular reference to Bryan Williams’ notable interview comment. Have you ever asked the question “Do I have to do this?” The reluctant nature of the question could be the need for clarity, safeguarding your time, feeling inadequate, approaching frustration, lacking value for what you are doing or any number of things. If you’re fortunate, you can hear wisdom respond by posing the question “Where are you going?”
This inquiry will either refine your focus or expose your lack of it. When you have properly identified where you are going and why, skills such as decision-making and time management become automatic. The development of these skills (and others) will be challenged through a testing of your faith. Do you believe that you are where you are going? (Did you get that?...It’s done!) More important than the destination is the person you must be in order to get there. Who you are is your character, His image, the thing you were gifted when God created you and it is directly related to the thing you are purposed to do.
Understanding the difference between necessary and required is a lesson we have been grateful to grow in. It has made the difference in believing and being grateful for our own dreams and goals to believing and being even more excited for the dreams and goals of others that God will fulfill through us. We have learned that doing what is required is a conditioned lifestyle; we’re taught to do what makes us comfortable. At work, in relationships, with our health, our culture teaches us to seek the bare minimum, fulfill just that with satisfaction and hashtag it as “doing the most.” Doing what is necessary gets us past our comfort zone and to a level where our character is strengthened. Often, the things that are necessary will temper us in an area of weakness, revealing our need to rely on God’s strength.
Could you imagine people being this direct? Even though this is their intent, most people will use a more indirect approach by asking “Are you available?” Regardless of the approach, your initial response is probably “available for what…use me for what”. What follows is usually an explanation as to why your help is needed and maybe some other theatrics depending on how dramatic the person is and how much coercing you need. You ultimately assess your availability by determining how much of yourself and/or your resources you are willing to give.
Several years ago one of our readers contacted us about a portion of our first book, Our Story. The reader referenced a portion of the book on friendship, puzzled as to how a woman could seemingly go out of her way to do some of the things mentioned and not have the fear of being used. She mentioned that as she thought about the scenarios in the book, she eventually realized that had the person she was helping been one of her girlfriends, and not a man, she would have done the acts of service without hesitation. Our response to her about being used was the same that we share with anyone – WE WERE EXPECTING TO BE USED.
Most people fear or hate being used because they feel a lack of control. We can deal with not always being able to control everything, but we don’t like for our time, resources or well-being to be tampered with for too long. Actually, tolerance levels in these three areas run really thin really quickly. During the course of developing our friendship, we learned a lesson about possession, ownership, that catapulted our growth in so many areas. Perhaps our reader, along with others, learned it as well. Those prized possessions of time, resources, and well-being that we hold so dearly DO NOT BELONG TO US.
At some point, we reach a place of maturity where we realize that everything that we have or have the ability to do does not belong to us, but to God. There are appointed times when people may ask “Are you available,” and it is actually God asking “Can I use you”? Be mindful the gift of wisdom is a necessary safeguard for foolishness…go ahead, chuckle. Not doing so will cause you to loose the possessions that you do have. Also note things that could hinder your availability like frustration, disappointment, selfishness, laziness, jealousy, conceit and many others that all steam from fear. Instead, operate from a place of love and take joy in knowing that your availability (relinquishing your will) gives God the full capacity to use you for something great!
There is a story of a young boy diligently working in his father’s workshop. Spread over the floor was a deconstructed chair that had been damaged, tools and a varied collection of mix-matched chair parts. When the young boy’s father walked in, seeing his son’s frustration, He asked “What are you working on?” With despair he replied, “I’m trying to fix this chair. It seems that nothing I’ve tried has worked.” His father chuckled slightly, and offered to help. “What is the problem?” the father asked. The young boy glared at the pieces sprawled over the floor with an obvious expression saying, “The chair is broken, and everything that I’ve tried to fix it has not worked.” Placing his hand on his son’s shoulder the father said, That is your situation, not your problem. Your problem is simple – you need a chair to sit in. “Your efforts have been focused on correcting something that was broken. Instead, create a new chair.”
Can you relate with the young boy? Definitely so...we all can. With this being the beginning of a new year, we encourage you to focus your efforts on creating versus correcting. A major part of this skill requires us to first be able to accurately identify what the problem is. When we know what the problem is, we are better able to determine the right resources (time, people, skills, money, priority, etc.), and avoid distractions that appear to be a good fit.
Examples could include improving the attitude of a loved one, a progressive shift in your business or work, increasing your ability to influence others for their benefit, or improving your perspective about your health and body. In these areas, too often is our focus on the current circumstance and we develop the tendency to try to correct the circumstance (which is only a result of the actual problem). Like the young boy, we us a variety of unauthorized parts that were not a part of the manufacture’s design. Our hope is that we all approach this year by embracing the freedom of truly creating solutions to problems that we were meant to solve. Your potential is so great! Go create your own seat, to negotiate your space at the table.
Inspiring, Impacting and Initiating Purpose in the lives of 10 Million people by meeting them where they are and helping them to get to where they desire to be.