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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Don't buy sticky, red soda when you have teenagers!

I watched a nature show last week in which a bald eagle landed on some fresh black tar laid on the roadway.  It was still hot and very sticky.  He became trapped in the sticky substance, all while trying to catch a meal nearby in the same mired mess.  Sadly, neither accomplished their task - the bird of prey did not get his meal, nor did the rodent cross to a place of safety.  I believe it may have been Joel Olsteen who said something like: "No matter where you at this very moment, this isn't the place you are meant to get stuck or hang out forever.  Each of us was created to rise above that present level and begin to soar to new heights."  Those aren't his exact words, but you get the idea.  I think it goes without saying - we all get "stuck" at some level in life where we just don't really know how to break free of whatever it is we are mired in.  Those times can be the hardest, but they can also be the most rewarding because they will test our faith, challenge our determination, and refine our focus.  We should never stagnate there, content to just "deal", but rather look upward and ask God how it is we are to break free into flight again to the next place he has prepared for us.

So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us. Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith. He endured the cross and ignored the shame of that death because He focused on the joy that was set before Him; and now He is seated beside God on the throne, a place of honor.  (Hebrews 12:1-2 VOICE)

This present level we face may be the greatest challenge we've face to date, or it could be the most delightful of places we have ever been.  It almost stands to reason we would want to escape the one challenging us and remain anchored in the one we have found delight and joy within.  Yet, both places are not a permanent placement for any of us.  We were meant to grow, expand, come into new experiences with Jesus - that means we cannot ever become content in just "living" where we are at right now.

Weights need to be dropped - those things which burden us unnecessarily.  Easier said than done - I know!  Sin is a weight we cannot afford to bear, but it has a way of wanting to cling to us even when we lay it down.  A few years back, my kids had a graduation party at the house.  We obtained all the obligatory munchies, subs, and sodas so they could really have a good time just hanging out.  I recall this one episode with a two liter, red sugary soda which really taught me a lesson.  For some unknown reason, the soda was under way more pressure than it should have been (maybe because the house was full of teenage boys being boys).  Upon uncapping the soda there was an immediate explosion of red liquid everywhere - from cabinet to floor, wall to wall, appliance to doorway.  Immediate clean up took place, but you know what I noticed?  No matter how well I thought I'd been able to scrub that sugary drink from the recesses it sought, it kept showing up again and again!

If you have ever had one of those things happen to you then you understand what I am about to say next - no matter how hard we try to escape the invasion of the sugary mess, it kept being the thing we'd find in some places we never ever imagined it could have gone!  Weights and sins have this same effect - they creep into places we didn't imagine they could ever have gone!  Before long, they are clinging to parts of us we just didn't imagine they could have influence over. In order to be free of their effect and "clinging hold", we need some pretty determined "cleansing" to occur.  I had to take apart every kitchen drawer, remove all the items within, unload the kitchen cabinets, then begin the process of scrubbing each and every surface - inside and out.  Then the items within needed to be washed and dried, replaced where they belonged, with new shelf liner to boot.  It took me time, energy, and a great deal of tenacity to "rise above" the invasion of the sticky red substance, but when it was all done, you know what I realized?  My kitchen sparkled!  Every drawer had a good cleaning and organizing.  Unwanted stuff which had just collected as clutter was gone.  My kitchen was transformed.

I don't know what needs transforming in your life today, but today's level is not the level you were meant to stay at forever. It may take a great deal of focus and dedication to rise above where you are today, but tomorrow's heights are calling and there is a transformation just waiting to happen!  Just sayin!