Have you ever walked through an alley when suddenly the street lights turned off? You panicked and stopped hoping you could run as fast as you could to get through the darkness. Your imagination then turned wild and thought that people behind you meant to harm you.
In life, we may have walked through different dark alleys. As we walk, there are situations in which we would rather hope that everything will come to pass or run hurriedly and do things on our own way to finish. Cliché as it may sound, life is a journey. Every single day, we are either walking alone or walking with God and other people. As Christians, we ought to choose to journey with God and others. Every day we are also either going nearer or farther from God. We make choices daily. We are called to walk in the narrow path, pursuing the life of righteousness, as we go through and face temptations in the dark seasons of our lives.
This book helped me see a clearer perspective on how to deal when we are in these tough situations. I’ll be sharing four things that I learned from the third installment of Neil Anderson’s book.
The world teaches us to accumulate and store up treasures on earth. Because of this we tend to focus on what we need to do or who should we become to be well acknowledged and be “successful” in life.
Just as we face crossroads, we make decisions daily. Our former small group leader often reminded us that we have to make three big decisions in life—faith, career and if we end up in marriage, our partner in life. I agree that these are major decisions in life and that we ought to seek God’s will and wisdom. We face these big milestones in our lives but we also need to make minor decisions. We decide on small things daily like what food to eat, how we budget our time, what activities to attend.
Sometimes as we seek God for His will, we wonder why He do not specify the details on where we should go. We eagerly wait for God to reveal what course we should enroll to or what job we should take. We become angry at God why He would not answer. We forget that all He wants is for us to be like Him. We envy people who seem to have it all—people with great wealth or power.
“Godly character is our goal, and it must take precedence over the gifts.”
As I read the book, I am reminded that we exist to glorify God. As we go through these milestones as well as these minor decisions, God is shaping us to be the person He wants us to be. That is success. He wants our character to be aligned to His. He wants our hearts to be drawn to Him. He wants us to submit to Him.
I am also reminded about the parable of the talents where the master gave one 10, the other 5 and the last 1 talent. God did not give us equal talents and so our self-worth is not attached to what we do nor how much we own.
“God’s will for those who believe in Him is to be alive in Christ for the purpose of establishing His kingdom by overcoming the evil one and becoming fully the people He has called us to be.”
We may make an excuse not to decide on some matters because we reason that it isn’t the right time yet. We may also delay to do what God wants us to do because we think we know better.
It doesn’t matter where we are right now. We must choose to walk with God daily and submit to Him always. We may not reap the fruits of our labor in this life but God will surely keep His promise and reward us in the life to come. Ultimately, the best reward for our godly character is having the fruit of Spirit in our lives.
Along the narrow road, we might slip or fall but we must choose to believe and pursue truth. Because what we believe determines what we do.
I learned that the new age movement has been leading so many people astray. This movement has been infiltrating our minds through the movies we watch, music we listen to as well as people whom we call experts.
So many times I hear meditation experts say that we have to clear our minds in order to make us feel calmer and less stressful but the Scripture says that we should not be neutral. I am sometimes drawn to think that there’s nothing wrong with this. In fact in some of the yoga classes I attended, instructors told us to do this. I felt convicted after having read the series. I learned that we either believe God or this world, which equates to believing in satan.
We should think of things that are good, pure, noble, admirable and the like (Philippians 4:8-9).
“Passively putting our minds in neutral invites spiritual disaster. We are to choose truth aggressively and actively.”
How can we pursue truth? God instructs us to read the Bible to guide our daily walk. He wants us to know the truth and not depend on our feelings. This means that we should devote time to learn about the truth and apply it in our lives. As we study about God and His Word, we are putting on the double edged sword (Ephesians 6:10-18) as a defense. As we memorize Scripture, we are equipped when satan suddenly attacks us.
“Do spiritual manifestations bypass the mind? God operates through our mind; satan bypasses it.”
I realized that we should integrate truth in our minds every minute, every day because satan is always prying to let us fall.
I watch the stock market. As the stocks go up, they will generally go down at some point. The same is true in business. There is a business cycle for every product or service. What goes up has to go down. The law of gravity also states the same. The same is true in life. There are good and bad days. There are days when we feel that we are fulfilled. There are also days when we feel that everything is going against us.
Jesus warned us that there will be sufferings and persecutions in this life (Matthew 16:24). There will be problems. We should expect them. Darkness is part of life. We should learn how to deal with them so that when the testing comes, we do not fall. This means that we should make decisions in advance just as a soldier is preparing for battle.
I realized that these trials cannot be avoided no matter how hard we try. The author told a story about a particular experience where he was battling with the difficult situation. After some time, he sincerely asked God for solutions. The situation did not change, but when he prayed his perception regarding the situation changed. And he deemed the battle a win.
Testing increases our faith. As we face difficult situations and dark moments in our lives, there is no other choice but to put our trust in God that He will deliver us. Sometimes, God cripples us so that we may fully depend on Him. It is also in the darkness that we learn a lot. People who have experienced dark times in their lives grew a lot. They became better because they have gone through these. We can read some of them in the Bible. I personally love the story of Joseph!
“I base my life on the hope that morning comes. No matter how dark the night, morning comes. And it’s always darkest before the dawn…Never stop. No matter how dark it gets, we are to keep on walking.”
While we are experiencing a dark period in our lives, we must remember to keep walking. We should keep our faith in God that He is there even though we may not feel His presence.
It is also important to continue to walk with godly and faithful people as we go through these dark times. Just as God wants us to give encouragement to other people, we are also to receive them.
According to Neil there are three kinds of fear aside from fear of God—fear of man, fear of death and fear of satan. If we feel fearful, we fear any of the three. Most of the time, when we cannot identify where it comes from, it is from satan.
I know that we have nothing to fear. As Christians, we should not fear anything or anyone but sometimes we are caught up with situations in which we are unprepared. We fear and think of a lot of negative things, “what ifs” and the like.
“Work out a plan of responsible behavior…Determine in advance what your response will be to any fear object.”
As I went through the book, there were some guide questions on identifying the things, people or situations we fear. I fear a lot. The list includes my fear for dogs. I get so panicky every time they come near me. I could not move or do the things that I’m supposed to do. Thankfully, I am slowly overcoming this fear.
Sometimes I get so sad thinking of all the things that needs to get done or pending projects on my list. These make me worry about tomorrow. But this truth helped me—we are accountable to God for today. God wants us to be the best version of ourselves today and cast our cares for tomorrow. We need to choose to trust God that He has a good and perfect plan for us in the future. Although that is the case, that is not a reason for us to slack off and let every circumstance dictate. We should seek God for His will for our lives—directions to take and paths to choose.
“We make plans for tomorrow in order to establish meaningful activities today.”
Fear is not from God. He knows all things, so we should not fear anything. He is trustworthy, and He will prove Himself faithful to us. Despite the darkness, we need not fear because we put our hope in Him.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18
As we journey in life, may we always remember that our goal is to develop godly character. There will always be ups and downs but as we choose to trust in Jesus, we will be courageous even in dark times.
Let us continue to submit to God, pray and seek Him and His truth.
*All photos are taken from the internet