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Changed course through changed heart

For people who are stumbling toward ruin, the message of the cross is nothing but a tall tale for fools by a fool. But for those of us who are already experiencing the reality of being rescued and made right, it is nothing short of God’s power. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

A survivor is one who has 'beaten the odds', coming out on the other side of something they had a hard time enduring. If God is the one who fights with us, helping us with our 'survival skills' in the midst of whatever it is we have been called to endure, then we can be assured that we will come out on the other side. Will we have 'war wounds' of some sort? Probably. We aren't guaranteed to be 'wound free', but we are promised to be 'held together' and 'put perfectly together' in the presence of Jesus. There are a great many of us that can proclaim we have been 'redeemed' - made new through the power and grace of God in our lives. We have undergone a process of transforming our hardened hearts into something that resembles and gives back a little bit of the grace we have received. Our 'survival' wasn't our own doing - we played a part in getting into the mess we were in, but the way out of that mess wasn't in our hands alone! God took us to the place where we'd recognize that thing we were struggling to survive within was really going to be our undoing if we continued in that course. In time, we called out for help and acknowledged how foolish it was to attempt to continue in our own self efforts.

There are still others who are aimlessly attempting to just 'survive' life. Their life is hard - it isn't joy-filled, or even exciting - it is just one tough day after another sometimes even tougher one. They cannot hold their heads up because the weight upon their shoulders is so heavy they are just totally weighed down under the stress of it. If this is you today, I have a little hope for you - God's forgiveness and restoration is what awaits you at the end of that tough road. It isn't far off - it is as close as your lips. It only takes your acknowledging you aren't doing things very well on your own - that you need him to step in and change your course. Look at what the course of the 'challenged' is like - it is a place of stumbling. There is but one person who can keep us from stumbling - Christ Jesus. We don't avoid everything we could stumble upon in life in our own efforts. That attitude of despair will creep up unless God keeps our heart at peace. The frustration of things continually going in the opposite direction as we would have desired will bring repeated pain until God adjusts our focus to see each frustration through his eyes. He 'frames' those things in a manner that helps us see how those 'frustrating things' are acting to refine us - they are like sandpaper that brings out the beauty of the grain deep within the wood.

One other thing to consider today - some of us want God to change the course rather than stepping into the course he intends for us. We want him to change the challenging circumstances - not our 'challenged' heart, our responses, or our faith. God isn't going to change the challenging course until we are willing to let our heart be changed first! Instead of continuing to stumble toward ruin, perhaps it is time to just halt in our path and ask God to turn us toward the place of our victory - to the place in him where we will overcome our frustration, set aside our fears, relinquish the need to be constantly controlled by our circumstances. God isn't going to force himself into our 'battle', but he stands ready to help us to become more than just 'survivors' through his power, peace, and presence. We choose to stumble on, or walk strong in him. Just sayin!

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