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Pressing On Toward The Goal

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Pressing On Toward The Goal

February 16, 2018

Have you ever whole-heartedly committed to a project, only to later wonder, “What was I thinking?” For me it can feel like I am at the top of a roller coaster ride, all strapped in, and suddenly I want to change my mind. But by then, it is too late.

New Year’s Resolutions can feel like this. I guess that’s why most people break theirs on January 15, as I learned recently from a colleague.

In my last blog post, I shared that I have chosen the word connection for 2018. My resolution is to have deep, genuine connections with the people God places in my path. It isn’t that I don’t love the people in my life. I absolutely do. But I also love being productive. I am, by nature, very driven, focused and task-oriented. While these can be great strengths, they can also have some unfortunate side effects.

A few months ago I was focused on starting a Young Authors’ Club at my elementary school. At our first club meeting, a colleague approached me with a book that she had previously published with some of her students. She was wondering if I would like to use the same company. But I was focused on getting acquainted with the students and passing out their snacks. So I politely brushed her off by telling her that I had already decided to use a different company.

Later, I felt convicted about the conversation.

One of the first stories I ever remember reading about Jesus is found in Mark 5: 21-43. In this story, Jairus, a synagogue leader, asks Jesus to come help his daughter who is dying. As Jesus leaves with him, a large crowd follows and presses around Him. In this crowd is a woman who has been sick for many years. She touches the cloak of Jesus and is healed.

Jesus realizes that power has gone out of Him. He stops and asks who touched Him. I can just hear the exasperation in the voices of His disciples as they point out how anyone in the crowd could have touched Him. In spite of their protests, Jesus continues looking until the woman comes forward and admits what she had done. Jesus takes time to speak kindly to the woman. At this point, people arrive to tell Jairus that his daughter has died.

I can only imagine the despair that Jairus must have felt. How difficult it must have been to watch Jesus stop to find this woman while his daughter was dying! But Jesus tells Jairus not to be afraid and to just believe. Then Jesus raises his daughter back to life.

This story impacted me so much because Jesus took time to be kind. I can be kind, too, when I have time to spare. But it is so challenging when I am caught up in a task that I want to complete. Unlike Jesus, the tasks that I have before me are very rarely life and death matters. Yet so often I react as if they are, causing me to be unaware or insensitive to the needs of the people around me. The conversation with my colleague is a perfect illustration of this.

Convicted by Jesus’ example, I invited my colleague to be the first guest speaker at our club. She brought her books and shared with my students her passion for the publishing process. None of us knew that just three weeks later, on Christmas night, she would pass away in her sleep. Thankfully, God had prompted me to repent and honor my colleague. Watching her radiantly share her passion for writing and illustrating stories is my last memory of her. How sad would it have been if, instead, my final memory had been the polite brush off I originally gave her!

I wish I could say that I always put people first, or that I always follow through when I am convicted to make things right. But sadly, this is not the case. Too often the tasks in front of me take my undivided attention. When this happens, everything and everyone else fades into the background. I begin to distance myself from others and ultimately realize that I feel disconnected.

This is why the word connection is the perfect focus for me this year.

I don’t know when or how the taskmaster in me was created. But she has a fierce hold on my character and when she cracks her whip, I jump to action. And I wonder how I will ever be able to throw off her hold on me. But like Jairus, I believe Jesus is asking me not to be afraid, but to believe, because He is able to do the impossible.

As I travel down the road, I pray to put people first and to take time to be kind. But experience has taught me that there are often bumps along the way. When this happens, I remind myself of the first scripture I ever memorized:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.   Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)

So for those times when I fail to keep the taskmaster at bay, I pray to press on toward the goal.

Whatever your goals are for 2018, I pray the same for you.

 

 

Pressing On Toward The Goal

February 16, 2018

IMG_0347

Have you ever whole-heartedly committed to a project, only to later wonder, “What was I thinking?” For me it can feel like I am at the top of a roller coaster ride, all strapped in, and suddenly I want to change my mind. But by then, it is too late.

New Year’s Resolutions can feel like this. I guess that’s why most people break theirs on January 15, as I learned recently from a colleague.

In my last blog post, I shared that I have chosen the word connection for 2018. My resolution is to have deep, genuine connections with the people God places in my path. It isn’t that I don’t love the people in my life. I absolutely do. But I also love being productive. I am, by nature, very driven, focused and task-oriented. While these can be great strengths, they can also have some unfortunate side effects.

A few months ago I was focused on starting a Young Authors’ Club at my elementary school. At our first club meeting, a colleague approached me with a book that she had previously published with some of her students. She was wondering if I would like to use the same company. But I was focused on getting acquainted with the students and passing out their snacks. So I politely brushed her off by telling her that I had already decided to use a different company.

Later, I felt convicted about the conversation.

One of the first stories I ever remember reading about Jesus is found in Mark 5: 21-43. In this story, Jairus, a synagogue leader, asks Jesus to come help his daughter who is dying. As Jesus leaves with him, a large crowd follows and presses around Him. In this crowd is a woman who has been sick for many years. She touches the cloak of Jesus and is healed.

Jesus realizes that power has gone out of Him. He stops and asks who touched Him. I can just hear the exasperation in the voices of His disciples as they point out how anyone in the crowd could have touched Him. In spite of their protests, Jesus continues looking until the woman comes forward and admits what she had done. Jesus takes time to speak kindly to the woman. At this point, people arrive to tell Jairus that his daughter has died.

I can only imagine the despair that Jairus must have felt. How difficult it must have been to watch Jesus stop to find this woman while his daughter was dying! But Jesus tells Jairus not to be afraid and to just believe. Then Jesus raises his daughter back to life.

This story impacted me so much because Jesus took time to be kind. I can be kind, too, when I have time to spare. But it is so challenging when I am caught up in a task that I want to complete. Unlike Jesus, the tasks that I have before me are very rarely life and death matters. Yet so often I react as if they are, causing me to be unaware or insensitive to the needs of the people around me. The conversation with my colleague is a perfect illustration of this.

Convicted by Jesus’ example, I invited my colleague to be the first guest speaker at our club. She brought her books and shared with my students her passion for the publishing process. None of us knew that just three weeks later, on Christmas night, she would pass away in her sleep. Thankfully, God had prompted me to repent and honor my colleague. Watching her radiantly share her passion for writing and illustrating stories is my last memory of her. How sad would it have been if, instead, my final memory had been the polite brush off I originally gave her!

I wish I could say that I always put people first, or that I always follow through when I am convicted to make things right. But sadly, this is not the case. Too often the tasks in front of me take my undivided attention. When this happens, everything and everyone else fades into the background. I begin to distance myself from others and ultimately realize that I feel disconnected.

This is why the word connection is the perfect focus for me this year.

I don’t know when or how the taskmaster in me was created. But she has a fierce hold on my character and when she cracks her whip, I jump to action. And I wonder how I will ever be able to throw off her hold on me. But like Jairus, I believe Jesus is asking me not to be afraid, but to believe, because He is able to do the impossible.

As I travel down the road, I pray to put people first and to take time to be kind. But experience has taught me that there are often bumps along the way. When this happens, I remind myself of the first scripture I ever memorized:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.   Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)

So for those times when I fail to keep the taskmaster at bay, I pray to press on toward the goal.

Whatever your goals are for 2018, I pray the same for you.

 

 

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