A while back I joined a close pastor friend for a cup of coffee. Often, God speaks into my life through this guy and this time was no exception.
I shared with him a few minor financial and relational struggles. As I sipped my Americano, he looked me in the eye and said, “Those things are just foxes meant to distract you. Stay focused on Jesus, Kurt.”
Years ago, I visited a friend in Scotland. He told me a story about one pesky little fox who often stole into his chicken coop and ran off with his best egg-layers. He’d sit in his attic for hours, window open and rifle in hand, hoping to nab the wily critter.
With the expectation of a victorious story, I asked him, “Well, did you ever get him?” “Blimey, no!” he said, “I just wasted a lot of time sitting in my attic like a silly twit.”
That’s what foxes do; they keep you worried about the chickens and wasting way too much time in the process. So how should we deal with a fox? Here are some things to consider:
What might be lost or negatively affected by this fox? If it’s something important, kill the dang fox. If it’s not truly critical, you might be better off ignoring it.
Has this fox become so consuming in your life that you forget the things that truly matter? Again, you might have to destroy the fox to get free from it, but maybe it’s just a ploy of the enemy to rob you of your peace in Christ.
Is the fox rabid? For example, pornography is not a fox, and neither is a divisive person (that person is a wolf). Don’t excuse a major issue by calling it a fox. See the problem for what it is and deal with it accordingly.
Is this fox the source of your difficulty or a symptom of something deeper? The best way to take care of symptomatic problems is to treat the root issue.
Ask Jesus to show you whether or not a fox is worthy of your attention. He will. Be wise and stay aware. Our enemy doesn’t always send grizzlies after us, but rather annoying little foxes meant to draw our eyes off of Jesus.
May I pray for you?
Lord, we are prone to distractions. Keep our eyes on you, and release us from the snares we stumble into. Help us to discern foxes from grizzlies. Amen.
“My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare” Psalm 25:15.
A while ago I flew to San Diego for a conference. After squeezing into the dreaded middle seat and checking to make sure there was an airsick bag (I’m prone to motion sickness), I said hi to the fellow inmates on either side of me. They pretty much pretended I didn’t exist. Inspired by the experiences flying offers, I pulled out my iPad and took some notes.
Lessons learned at 37,000 feet:
Many live isolated lives. We want our personal space, and we’re not really interested in the other guy’s story. The new normal is to live in our little bubble and keep to ourselves. But wouldn’t it be better to share even a piece of our lives? No man is an island (especially in the middle seat).
Life is bumpy at times. I religiously search for the infamous chuck bag every time I get on a plane. I don’t want to be caught unprepared. I expect the unexpected, and I plan ahead for what might happen. Maybe that’s not a bad way to live this life too.
You can’t live long on snacks. The mirco-bag of airline pretzels isn’t meant to truly satisfy. Some try to live their spiritual life on spiritual snacks too. They get just a little Word here and a little prayer there, but not nearly enough to live on.
Location matters. On a flight, our location affects our view and comfort. In our spiritual life, location also matters. The Bible says in Colossians 3:1 (NIV)“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
There are lots of things we take for granted. One of the good things about flying is it reminds me of the benefits on the ground that I take for granted! Truth is I am blessed.
We all have baggage. Whether it’s an actual suitcase or emotional wounds and relational issues, we often carry heavy burdens. Maybe it’s time to get rid of some baggage and check it with Jesus.
Travel is necessary to get to another location. As much as I dislike air travel nowadays, flying is often the best transportation. You can’t escape travel in life, either; it requires motion. I can’t grow or change without it. First, I need a destination; then I need to move.
May I suggest, whether you take the road less traveled, or a jumbo jet, make time to reflect on your life today.
May I pray for you?
God, as we journey through this life (in anticipation of the next!) may we travel well, with you as our ever-present companion. Amen.
“Now you’ve got my feet on the life path,
all radiant from the shining of your face.
Ever since you took my hand,
I’m on the right way”
Psalm 16:11 MSG.
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There is nothing quite like the ache a parent or grandparent feels for their distressed little one. Whether the child is sick, wrestling with an emotional struggle or a physical challenge, our pain can feel overwhelming. It doesn’t matter how old your kids or grandkids are, you ache when they ache, and you suffer when they suffer.
That’s what love does.
I’ve wept over the struggles of those close to me. I would do anything to fix their situations. I’ve prayed over and over, “God, I beg you to intervene. Do something. Anything. Please come and fix this….” At times the heavens seem so silent.
But God feels every pain of every person in every moment of his or her life. God has seen our troubles and cares deeply about the anguish of our souls (Ps. 31:7); he is close to the brokenhearted (Ps. 34:18); and even when we walk through the valley of shadows, he is right beside us (Ps. 23:4).
Knowing that the Lord is aware of our distress brings me comfort.
I have no idea what is causing you to ache in this moment. I don’t know what is bringing angst and sorrow to your spirit.
You don’t get the promotion or raise you deserve.
Your spouse says, “I want a divorce.”
You have a miscarriage.
The doctor says, “I’m afraid this is going to require surgery and a long recovery period.”
An in-law becomes an outlaw.
I may not know what you are wrestling with right now, but I do know this: When life is hard, hang on to the truth, not what you feel. And understand this—God knows, he cares, and he is near even when we feel alone.
So what have I learned about life and hardship?
I’ve learned to expect the unexpected.
I’ve learned to stay the course no matter what the course may bring.
I’ve learned to be humble and dependent on the Father for everything.
I’ve learned to fix my eyes and heart on the One who has never left me.
I’ve learned that God can handle my questions.
Read this next part very slowly: God never promised us an easy life. He never assured us an answer to everything, not on this side of eternity. If that were the case, how would hope and faith play into the mix? The normal expectation for Christ-followers is faith in the face of the unknown and trust even when we are baffled by life.
Is it easy? No. However, though we have no guarantee of an easy life, we do have the Father. No matter what, we are never alone and never left to wade through the mud and muck in our own strength.
May I pray for you?
Father, this life is so hard sometimes. We have so little control and feel so overwhelmed by circumstances that baffle us at times. We know so little, and we ache so much. Please carry us. Please protect us. But most of all, please help us to keep our eyes on you no matter what. You alone are our hope.
“…Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.
But take heart, because I have overcome the world” John 16:33 NLT.
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I attended a picnic recently and noticed how uncomplicated and free the kids were. They didn’t worry about the meat on the BBQ or who brought what for a side dish. They made fun their only concern. It was a picnic after all.
I know as adults we have responsibilities. I understand the need to plan and prepare. But does life have to be so complicated? Let me give you six steps to keep it simple:
Remember what is and isn’t eternal. Only people live forever! That task or thing you’re stressing over may not have much (or any) eternal significance. The first step to a simpler life is remembering to focus on what matters most—people.
Identify and stay true to your core values. What six or seven things best define who you are, your ideals, and your purpose? For example, loving God and others is one of my core values. If an opportunity isn’t related to love at some level, I’m not interested. But if I can advance the cause of love, I’m in! Loyalty, faithfulness, and family are other core values to me.
Try to make a subtraction for every addition in your life. Have you noticed how easy it is to say yes and how hard it is to say no? One of the most effective ways to simplify your life is to stop something old whenever you start something new. This step is much easier when you’ve applied the previous two steps.
Practice sacrificial generosity. The more we have, the more we worry, and the more we worry, the more complicated our life gets. I’m not saying it’s bad to own stuff, but it’s a problem when our stuff starts to own us. The best way to guard my heart against distracting materialism is to give generously.
Determine which voices you’re going to listen to. Sometimes the multitude of other voices are nothing more than complicating distractions. Be humble. Be a good listener. But be wise too, and listen to the voices that matter most.
Live fully in the moment. It’s good to plan for the future. But sometimes we are so future-minded we are of no present good. We can’t spend all our time worrying about tomorrow. The simple thing is the present thing. Do it well. Do it now.
What have you found effective for de-cluttering your life? Pick one or two of the things above and start simplifying today.
May I pray for you?
God, our society values busyness. We feel worthwhile when we’re needed, and oftentimes add more to our plates than we can manage. Refocus our attention on the eternal. Help us simplify our lives. Amen.
“Don’t worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself.
You have enough to worry about today” Matthew 6:34 CEV.
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