Building and Breaking

hb_1993_Fotor

When we are put in the midst of uncertain circumstances, surroundings, and future, real personal and spiritual growth will happen if you stay flexible.  Danielle and I were having breakfast with some amazing neighbors and friends this morning.   We were sharing stories of growing up, life as adults, and general conversation about all things family. Our friend who happens to be a talented artist, among other things, was explaining some of the process of painting with an oil medium.  The end result comes through sequences of building up  and breaking it down.  Through many iterations the end result is often not the vision you started with.  The story of my life…

We live in a world where we want continuous “building”, something I am completely guilty of.  We want consistent job promotions and salary raises.  We want to move from a small house, to medium house, to our large forever house.  We want a slow and steady growth into the promise land. Unfortunately, we have this utopian picture in our head of what life should give us and when we hit a breaking point, we have no idea what to do with it.  This life is not utopia, there are struggles, there is loss, and there is an incredible amount of breaking that occurs.  That may sound like bad news, but when your perspective shifts…it can be the most freeing and motivating experience of your life.

I am going to keep this simple.  We were made for a purpose; to shine our light and introduce the world to the love of Jesus.  That truly is our only job.  Now it looks different for each one of us; because, we all have different occupations and paths the Lord has led us down.  But one thing remains the same, we need to shine!  What would our witness look like if we all lived a perfect utopian life, with no challenges?  It would be worthless and ineffective.   Furthermore, what kind of knowledge would we have if all we ever did was win (build)?  One-dimensional and shallow.  So, we walk through life being built up and experiencing breaking points, but it makes us better, stronger, more relatable, and most importantly, more reliant on the Artist.  And just like the oil painting that was built up and broken down…all of the layers come together to form a beautiful masterpiece with dimension.  A masterpiece that was created for a purpose, a purpose greater and more significant than you will ever know.

So, we shift our perspective.  We embrace the broken state fully, knowing that God is building us up, layer upon layer, to eventually expose His perfectly imperfect masterpiece that has been made righteous through the ultimate sacrifice…Jesus. Embrace and enjoy the periods of building, but also embrace and rest in His peace through periods of breaking.  It is good; we are being equipped and we will come out on the other side shining bright with the love of Jesus.

building and breaking…building and breaking…building and breaking…we are God’s masterpiece.  In the end we will look back at the process, only to be amazed at the beautiful piece of priceless art which we have become.

Blessings through the building up and the breaking down,

Scott

Learning to Discern

road-to-nowhere_FotorOne of the many lessons I have had to learn and grow in (continually), is who and who not to listen to.  I believe the majority of the people around me have the best intentions and want the best for our family; but I always have to remember they are speaking to me through their own worldview lens.  They may be risk averse, so their advice is just settle down; some come from the perspective that we must only do what is logical, and in that case what we are doing really does not make sense to the world; other people come to the table with a higher risk tolerance than I have, and may suggest simply selling it all and moving without a plan.  There are so many different perspectives, none of them are necessarily more wrong or right than the other, but it is my job to discern the Lord’s will for our family and walk the path he has called us to.  That is not an easy task, especially for some one who is a recovering people pleaser.

One such situation happened a few weeks ago.  I was talking to a good friend of mine who has influenced me in many positive ways.  Our paths are different, our spiritual gifts are different, our world views are slightly different, but we do share the same Savior, so my level of discernment is usually down around him.  He challenged me to be cautious and discern well the voice of the Holy Spirit versus my flesh and that I must be cautious when stating the “Lord is calling our family” to something specific.  While his advice was good and was given with good intentions, there was also a level of doubt that was planted in my heart.  Did I hear from the Lord correctly on this move and should I openly proclaim this is the direction the Lord is taking our family?  This seed of doubt floated around in my mind for days, tainting various areas of my mind with more doubt.

At the same time I was reading through Genesis about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. and the specific direction God gave to those men.  Even in the midst of their own frailty and misguided steps, God was faithful and He implemented the promised plans.  Overall, these men were faithful to God’s voice even in the midst of some extreme situations that tested their faith.  In the end the seed of doubt planted in my mind was overcome by the assurance of my Father.  I was reminded that we do our best to listen to His voice and in the end, His grace covers us even in the midst of our mis-steps and lack of faith.  There is one thing I will not compromise on…ever!  When Danielle and I come into agreement that God is moving us in a specific direction, I will not shy away from proclaiming that direction.  Why?  Because I absolutely DO NOT want the credit that comes from the results of stepping out in faith.  I would rather risk proclaiming His direction in my life and Him getting the credit for the results than to suffer from the embarrassment of me mis-hearing God and failing miserably.

The beauty of walking through these types of situations is it causes me to reflect and enter into conversations in a more prayerful state.  When people ask me for guidance, am I speaking out of my flesh or am I speaking out of my faith in a God who has the perfect plan?  Am I intentionally being an encouragement or am I attempting to bring the other person into alignment with what I am comfortable with?  What are my intentions in every conversation, to further my agenda or to seek out God’s perfect plan and to discern how His children fit in the story?

I have works to accomplish today.  Are they advancing heaven or hell?  That is the question.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, NLT)

Blessings,

Scott