Proverbs 20:25 (NLT)
Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.
It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you not by angels or by demons, or by heaven or hell. – Buddha
Some of the greatest battles will be fought within the silent chambers of your soul. – Ezra Taft Benson
Some of the very best advice that I have been given is to pick and choose your battles wisely. Many times I refer back to that statement when I am challenged by a situation that is perplexing, frustrating and overwhelming. I have learned to push more than I pull if that makes any sense. I have learned how to respond rather than react and at times it is better not to respond at all. It has taken many years and an equal number of battles maybe more to come to this determination. In the past months, we have been planning a wedding. Pick and choose your battles has come to mind many times when dealing with lots of opinions and expectations along the way. With our joy in sight, it has been worth it. Suddenly thrust into grief just a week before the wedding was not in my schedule, lists, or calendar but death came uninvited anyway. It is often said that “weddings and funerals bring out the worst in people.” I don’t think it has been that bad and things have gone smoothly so far with only the occasional bump along the way. With the untimely death of my birth mother came new responsibilities and decisions that must be made as her oldest child and next of kin. Reunited with family members who we had not spoken to in years, it was time to decide the final arrangements for my mom and work out all the details. It was time to pick and choose my battles yet again. My mother and I had grown estranged over the years due to a long addiction to alcohol that ultimately took her from us long before now stirring up riveting emotions and overwhelming sorrow that there would be no happy ending. Plans were made and arrangements set. But the next day, as more family became involved everything began to fall apart. It was time to pick and choose our battle. We did. Exhausted and overcome with sadness I asked the Lord why all the stress and pressure in my life over the last few years. I was sure that we were on the horizon of change and that victory was coming. His Glory on the edge of Heaven ready to pour out substantially. I have prayed for more of Jesus and less of me. I have asked for a closer and deeper relationship with my Savior and my God. Why all the pain? Why all the suffering? Why must I fight so hard? And then I heard that still small voice that whispers from the silent chambers of my soul say, “I am doing just that.”
Have you counted the cost? What does that have to do with what I am going through you may ask? Well, if you have cried out for more of Jesus less of me – you must be empty. You cannot empty anything without opening it. Once poured out often we must break the seal on the bottle to get the remaining contents hidden within. I have given my life to God. When I asked Jesus Christ to be my Savior, it was also requested that He become the Lord of my life. It is a life for a life promise. But when our life becomes uncomfortable or change begins to shake us forcefully, we wonder what we have done wrong and must decide whether or not it is worth it. Have I made a rash promise to God? Only if I do not consider the cost!
James 5:10-12 (NLT)
For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy. But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned.
In this passage, we are told to never take an oath by Heaven or earth or anything else. Instead we are to say yes or no so that we will not sin or be condemned. The Word of God says “I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law.” (Romans 10:2-3) We make rash promises to the Lord all the time when we offer our life to Him and take it back when things don’t turn out the way we plan or we become uncomfortable. I read an article about the song “Oceans” not too long ago that I shared with others. It said to stop singing it because we do not mean it. The whole purpose of this song is to go deeper in the things of God, to leave our comfort zone behind, moving deeper in the Presence of God. We think that is what we want but without true knowledge of God’s Word and a prospering relationship filled with love and trust, we will not get very far. Right before this warning, it talks about patience in suffering. Why all the suffering? Why so much pain? We are killing our flesh to allow God’s Spirit to take over. The death of sin is painful. When I leave the gym with sore muscles or aching bones, I say that my fat is screaming as it is slowly dying. Perhaps, if we would consider the cost of following Christ picking and choosing battles that really matter we would get somewhere.
Luke 14:27-29 (NLT)
And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.
The Lord has promised us that He is making good out of every detail of our life. (Romans 8:28) Do you believe Him? No really, do you have absolute confidence that Jesus Christ can make joy out of sorrow? Can He turn your mourning into dancing? Can He heal your body? Can He restore your strength? Can He renew your soul? Can Jesus revive your hard heart? Yes, He can. Is it worth the price you must pay for Him to accomplish it in your life? That is the real question. Christ’s Ability is uncontested except in the heart of mankind. The universe knows His Power. The waves and wind still know His Name. Are you will to pay the price to worship God with your whole life? David told Araunah that He could not give the Lord an offering that did not cost him something. (2 Samuel 24:20-24) Do you feel the same way? Because following Christ is going to cost you a lot. It will cost you everything to be where He is. Is that a sacrifice you are willing to make? Is anything worth more than your soul? (Matthew 16:25-26) To follow Christ must be a conscious decision not an impulsive choice. You are engaging in a battle that will last your lifetime as you must endure to make it to the end. In the midst of my giant pity party this week, once the tears subsided I heard His Voice and finally understood that He is doing just what I have been asking for and that I had not fully considered the cost.
I John 5:1-5 (NLT)
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
Those of moments of grief when the call came regarding my mother’s passing, I cried out to the Lord. Sadness for the life that was lost and sorrow for the sickness that was avoidable. I am still not completely sure how I feel about it all. When the arrangements began to change and fall apart, I wanted to fight to keep control of my mom in these final days. The Lord changed my mind and simply said, “Let go.” So I did. God’s Love for me is overwhelming and has filled the voids of my childhood completely. My natural mother has passed and it is natural to feel alone even though she was not in my life anymore. I wanted her to be just not her addiction. She would not let it go. As a Child of the Living God, my expectation is complete in Jesus Christ. I have everything I need to defeat this evil world. I have victory through my faith. My faith is in Christ alone. Sometimes it is tough to remember that when the details of life are so real and even painful. I am a Child of God. I am His Adopted Child. I must remember this. I know it but it must become more than a notion and a commitment to my Father in Heaven. God gave me a mother to love me. She married my dad accepting the two ragamuffins that came with the package. She filled the void that addiction left behind. She is the good thing that God gave me when the details of my life were not that great. God loves me. He gives me victory when I choose to pick and choose my battles in accordance with His Will and His Way. We are victorious in knowing that God loves us no matter what had we think life has dealt us. We are not random people. God has it all planned out. It is for my good. My life has the potential of a future with hope. When I decide to let go of my life and fully accept the new life that Jesus has given me.
Romans 8:35-39 (NLT)
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” ) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It’s funny how every time my heart is broken or my strength gives out that I find myself right here in the Love of God. It’s like at every turn He is pouring out His Love on me trying to convince me just to take it. I must pick and choose my battles to decide if I am willing to pay the price to have all that He has promised. We all make rash promises to God from time to time. Commitments to do this or that if He will comply with our requests without considering the cost ahead of time. Overwhelming victory belongs to me in every situation even those times when I have absolutely no clue what God is doing in my life. He takes me right back here. The Lord keeps encouraging my conviction that there is nothing that can ever separate me from His Amazing Love and persuading me to lay more and more of my life down for this cause. As I give more and more of my heart to Jesus, I find that I am beginning to win battles here and there. Greater is He that is in me than He that is in this world. (I John 4:4)
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.
So I took a tumble this week and maybe got distracted. Thank God for His Mercy and Grace. As I stand back up and survey the damage, I brush off the bad attitude and begin to run again. I am not after the things of this world but desire all that God has planned and prepared for me. This battle is a tough one. It cut deep inside my heart but I will win the war. I will not give up because I have come this far. What about you? Are you tired of running? Was the last blow a deep one? I know it was but it’s time to get up and start moving again. If He told you to “let go”, then do it. What is the point of struggling unnecessarily? What God has for us is so much better than what came with this life – embrace it, hold His Promises tighter than ever before. Hold your head up and put one foot in front of the other. Take up your cross and follow Jesus whether you feel like it or not. Consider the cost. It’s worth everything you have as He gave every drop of His Blood for you to have it. This is how we overcome. Even Buddha figured out the greatest battle we fight is within our self. You are equipped to not only win this battle but you are about to win the war! Jesus didn’t promise it would get any easier, but He did say that it would be worth it!
Hebrews 10:35-36 (NLT)
So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.