The Path of Resistance

resistanceLast week, I went biking on a particularly windy day. Starting down the trail, my dirt bike raced along without much effort on my part.

The return home, however, was not such a breeze. With head down, I peddled hard into the wind and made much slower progress. My thighs started to burn.

Resistance brings pressure, sweat, and sometimes pain; I’m not just talking about the kind that comes from biking into the wind.

Life presents us with resistance. In school, we have to work hard and figure out teacher expectations to earn good grades. In our jobs, we might have to deal with unpleasant customers, co-worker conflicts, or project deadlines. Good relationships also don’t come naturally but require honesty and patience to resolve differences.

We writers know all about resistance. Editors may return our queries with polite or critical rejections. We may have a deadline looming, and suddenly, our fingers feel frozen on the keyboard.

Chances are, most of us complain about resistance.

However, let’s take a different approach. If teachers handed out A’s like candy, we would never discover our weaknesses or learn from our mistakes and improve. If editors drew smiley faces on every writer’s proposal, the market would be flooded with half-developed plots and weak characters (books no one wants to read).

Resistance makes us better, stronger. We can’t grow without it.

The need for endurance

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul explained the need for a character trait that knows how to handle resistance. This quality is endurance.  In I Corinthians 9:24-27, he compared the Christian life to an athlete who can win a race only if he exercises self-control and disciplines his body. Resistance training helps the athlete succeed when the race counts.

The truth is, however, that none of us enjoys push-backs and disappointment. To appreciate them, we have to look beyond the moment.

20170130_073655One way to help keep the goal in mind is to remember past finish lines crossed. I’m a visual person, so you’ll see pictures of physical dares I’ve met around my house (usually in the form of adventures with my brother). Recently, I’ve also started keeping a gratitude journal. These entries remind me that God has always been faithful in tough spots in the past, and He’s not going to quit on me (even when I’m tempted to quit on myself).

Starting is easy. Finishing is hard work. But it’s worth it.

The prize before us

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it (I Corinthians 9:24).

As I biked home, I turned my gaze upward. In the sky, birds glided and swooped. The same wind that fought against me allowed them to soar.

When you’re faced with resistance, whether in your spiritual walk or personal life, press on. Set your eyes on the prize. (Make sure you have one picked out before you start!)

The prize I’m running for is to hear my Savior Jesus Christ tell me well done one day:

  • Well done for loving the people in your life, even when they’re hard to love.
  • Well done for being faithful where I place you, even when you’d rather be somewhere else.
  • Well done for listening for my voice, even when I seem silent.
  • Well done for writing the words and stories I’ve given you to tell, even if you never know what impact (if any) they will have.

One day, I pray I’ll hear words like these. Until that day, I say amen to what Paul said in Philippians 3:14.

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

What prize do you have in sight? What well done do you want to hear? 

Today, embrace the resistance. One day, the wind that buffets you may give you wings.

Kristen

 

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The Path of Resistance – The same wind that buffets you may give you wings – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Ordinary People, Abundant Power

super-power-1Have you noticed a common thread among superheroes? They have lowly origins, rise to unlikely greatness, and often have Achilles’-heel-like weaknesses.

Think about it. Spiderman was a whimpy teenager until a spider bit him. Captain America couldn’t even meet the enlistment requirements. Superman was superhuman unless kryptonite came into the picture.

Does anyone remember I-Man? My brothers liked this movie from the 80s, so I watched it many times in my childhood. I-Man breathed extraterrestrial space dust that made him virtually unstoppable. But if he were left in the dark, his cells would die, and well, so would he.

He also had a penchant for stealing all the cream for his coffee. I may be guilty of this habit myself.

We cheer for these big-screen heroes because many started like us: ordinary people. However, we don’t have to inhale space dust to have super power.

Today, we’re going to hear more from Ashley, Hannah, and Victoria on how we can tap into our Source of strength and find some supersized encouragement for our daily lives.

Tap into God’s Power

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God (2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV).

Hannah: God does not want to make it hard for us to receive Him and the “power” He offers freely to us. We can easily tap into this “power”; we must start by trusting in God, believing that His Son, Jesus, died and rose again, and have faith in our God. Once you become a Christian, God will offer His everlasting help to you. God’s power will become more evident to you if you give an effort to grow closer to Him by prayer and time in His Word; if we truly want to know God’s power, we will want to get to know Him first.

Ashley: We should get our power from God. We simply need to admit that we need God to help us, and He’ll be there for us.

For reflection: What fears or foes are you facing? Have you asked God for His help? 

Don’t Go Solo 

Victoria: No matter where I am at with the Lord, I can never achieve perfection. I need to constantly be growing in my faith with Him.

Hannah: God has the ability to strengthen me when I feel weak. If I have true fear for God, then that’s all that really matters. My relationship with God is ten times more beautiful than I am, and that’s exactly how I want my life to be, because a relationship with God is the most stunning thing about a person; at least, it should be.

For reflection: Do you try to “fix” your problems alone? Don’t. Seek the Lord, and surround yourself with friends and family who can walk this journey with you. 

Be Encouraged Today 

I asked these young ladies what they would tell someone who’s struggling to believe God is powerful enough to handle any difficulty. Here’s what they had to say.

Ashley: I would tell them that God is bigger. God is bigger than anything and everything he could be going through. I know it may be hard to trust God because we can’t physically see Him, but He will get us through all our struggles (I Peter 5:7).

Victoria: I would share with him the fact that the God who made everything thought that the world needed one of him too. We must always remember that God provides and the fact that one door closes so another can open.

Hannah: I have come to the realization that God doesn’t explain exactly how or why He does what He does or lets things happen how they happen. He lets difficulties occur to test our belief in Him and His power to work things out. God wants us to trust Him completely, and we can’t do that unless we learn how to. So when you feel as though God doesn’t have enough power to heal your broken heart, fix your sadness, or change your doubt to belief, just remember that God has enough power to raise people from the dead, make the blind see, the lame walk, the sinners believe, and He holds you in the same hands that He created the world with. God’s power is impossible to totally comprehend, but that does not make it impossible.

Parting Thought

Thank you, young ladies, for your example of faith and words of encouragement!

I love that last part Hannah shared: God’s power is impossible to totally comprehend, but that does not make it impossible.

We may all be rather ordinary, but God’s power knows no limits. Nothing is impossible with Him (Luke 1:37).

That’s pretty super. Don’t you agree?

~ Kristen

 

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Ordinary People, Abundant Power – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

 

If You Could Be a Superhero

superheroesIf you could be a superhero(ine), what would your super power be? 

A while back, our youth pastor challenged the teens in youth group to design their own biblical superhero, complete with name, super power, theme song, icon, etc.

Our high school girls created a superheroine they called Proverbs 31derwoman. I was so impressed with their idea, organized in such a short amount of time, that I asked some of them if they would be willing to tell us more about it here.

I’m excited that they said yes! For the next two weeks, you’re going to hear from Ashley, Hannah, and Victoria as they share what their heroine can teach us. This week, we’ll look at Proverbs 31derwoman’s profile, and next week, we’ll learn how to apply some of her qualities to our daily lives.

Profile: Proverbs 31derwoman

Her DNA: Scripture

Hannah: I view Proverbs 31 as a huge encouragement to all women. Whether young or old, this awesome passage of scripture impacts ladies and their decisions to fear God above all else, so why not make a super chapter into a super hero, right?

Victoria: Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain. She acts as a source to help fight against the temptation to participate in wrong doing. We wanted someone to help guide others in or to faith.

For reflection: Is God’s Word part of our DNA? Do we daily spend time with Him?

Her Role: Model Virtue

Ashley: Well, Proverbs 31 is the chapter about the virtuous woman; she is a fantastic example of a hardworking, faithful woman we should all strive to be like.

Hannah: Proverbs 31derwoman fears God above all else. She does not focus on how others see her … she simply lives for God and knows that is more than enough for her. That is why Proverbs 31derwoman makes such an awesome role model, because she knows what is important in life: fearing (standing in complete awe of) our God.

For reflection: This gal has her priorities right! I love what Hannah says: she knows what is important in life. Is this true of us, or do other distractions steal our focus?

Her Super Powers

Hannah: Proverbs 31derwoman swoops in when someone has doubt about his importance … Proverbs 31derwoman comes in and helps the individual realize that he is so incredibly important that someone even knows how many hairs he has on his head (Luke 12:7).

Victoria: She has the unlimited ability of trust and faith without sight. It would be awesome to have these, because I might have a better understanding of my faith. I always want to see it to believe it.

Ashley: She fought impurity. She was able to defeat the villain Impurimaximus. This would be useful because sometimes as teens, fighting this can be difficult.

For reflection: What villain are you fighting today? Is it a struggle for purity? For honesty? Combat your villain with the truth of God’s Word (just as Jesus did in Matthew 4).

Until next time

Special thanks to these three young ladies for sharing their faith creatively! I look forward to posting more of their challenge next time.

So I ask you again: If you could be a superhero(ine), what would your super power be? Please share your ideas in the comments below!

~ Kristen

 

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A Biblical Superheroine: Proverbs 31derwoman -@kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

If You Could Be a Superhero – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)