Why aren’t followers of Christ experiencing more joy and living victoriously throughout each day? What obstacles keep a Christian from experiencing the best life God has to offer?
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us… Ephesians 3:20 (ESV)
Am I really celebrating another birthday? Have you ever wondered why it often takes a milestone event—like a birthday or the New Year—to stop and examine why we do what we do? Are we really doing what God created us to do? Do you have an emptiness that leaves you wanting more out of life only to find yourself filling the emptiness with useless things? Do you wrestle with feeling you want to accomplish more yet feel you don’t have time to get anything accomplished?
As I reflect on my life, I find myself praying, Jesus, please tell me there’s more to the Christian life than what I see around me! I ask Jesus to calm my heart and show me what He wants me to do. Most days I feel inadequate to do what He has already called me to do so why should I ask Him to do more? The only answer I have for this question is I cannot remove the deep longing in my heart that there’s more Jesus wants for me. I don’t believe Jesus wants our goal in life to simply be happy and make it through the day without crashing under pressure. I believe He has given us the power to rise above our circumstances rather than be buried under them. So why aren’t followers of Christ experiencing more joy and living victoriously throughout the day?
In the book The Secret Things of God, Dr. Henry Cloud writes about this very subject and lists a few obstacles that can keep us from trusting God to use us to do great things. As you read his list below of obstacles, be honest and ask yourself if any of these obstacles are keeping you from experiencing God’s best.
- Fear of failing. You want to win, but you’re afraid you might fail, so you hold back.
- Past hurt that blocks passion. You carry around old pain, and you cannot feel your energy to pursue something new.
- Discouragement from the past. You’ve been put down or lost before, and you feel beaten before you start, so your whole heart is not available to you.
- Mixed motives. You want the goal, but you want it for another reason besides the goal itself, so your heart is not really in the pursuit, but into it for the money, acclaim, status, or something else that is not pure.
- Conflict over the goal itself. You want it, but you want something else too, or you want it and don’t want it at the same time.
- Shackled by someone else’s control. You want your goal, but you are pulled away because someone else has control over your time and energy too.
- Feelings of inadequacy. Your lack of confidence in yourself causes so much doubt that you cannot move forward wholeheartedly.
- Incompatible wishes. You want two things at the same time that are incompatible—e.g., you want to be married and have a family, and you want ultimate freedom and control over your time and life.
- Undefined passions. You have never found your real passion that would cause you to do whatever you need to accomplish your goal.
If one or more of these obstacles is standing in your way and causing you not to trust God, it is time to repent and tell God you are willing to trust Him for the “more” for which you long.
Years ago, I was about to make one of the worst decisions of my life when a pastor asked me, “Do you want to look back on your life and wonder what God would have done had you only obeyed Him?” If I hadn’t stopped long enough to answer his question, I wouldn’t be teaching God’s truth or have the family I love so dearly. It’s easy to become discouraged, but I want to encourage you to stay the course. I have formed a habit at the end of each day asking myself if I died in my sleep and found myself looking into the face of God, what would I hear Him say? Would I hear, I wanted to do more in your life, but you wouldn’t trust me! or Welcome home, Sugar! You fought the good fight and you kept the faith. Well done good and faithful child! Don’t wait for another birthday to trust God to do greater things in and through you. Has it ever occurred to you the “more” you are longing for was placed in your heart by God? And what He asks of us, He will provide for us!
Philippians 2:3-11; 2 Corinthians 10:15; Philemon 21