I have a good friend who feels stuck. That’s not an uncommon feeling. You have probably felt that way at some point in your life; that point may even be right now. Perhaps you’ve experienced the feeling of being stuck in your marriage, your job, your home life, or your school, and you know how frustrating it can be to keep trying to get unstuck without seeing breakthrough. That’s where this friend is. He’s tried everything, and he’s really bummed out. He just can’t make the right things happen.
We met one morning for coffee, and he pulled out a pen and started diagramming on a napkin. “God spoke to me,” he said. “I realized all the things I couldn’t change, even though I had done all I could to change them.” So he wrote down his life categories: God, family, himself.
“I always say it’s God ﬁrst, then my family, then me,” he said. “Then I did a little proﬁt-and-loss evaluation, an inventory of where I am and how I'm stuck. I keep hitting things that don’t move, so I started wondering if God wanted to teach me something. And I asked."
He went on to describe his thought processes in conversation with God, and what he thought God was teaching him about his relationship with God, his family, and himself. He looked at all his activities and where his energy was going, and even though he mentally placed God first, most of what he was doing was directed toward himself. He realized his words—his commitment to place God ﬁrst and his family next, above himself—didn’t really line up with his actions. So he reorganized his life, reprioritized, moved some things around, and said, “Okay, I want to learn.”
That changed things. He realized what we all eventually discover for ourselves: that the goal of life is not self-actualization. It’s not to be fulﬁlled and have everything go our way. God’s primary agenda in your life is to make you like His Son, to use all the ups and downs in a fallen world to develop that vital relationship with Jesus by the power of His Spirit, rooted in His Word, in the context of authentic community, so that little by little you begin to think, talk, and serve like Jesus. It’s for moms, dads, children, siblings, coworkers, and neighbors to embody the nature of God in Christ.
If you’ve struggled with that same discrepancy between your stated priorities and your actual investments of time, energy, emotions, and resources, this is where it’s leading. When that vital relationship with Jesus becomes your priority, there will be people in your life who don’t understand how you can go through the hard times or the injustice you’re facing, who wonder how you keep such a level head in the midst of successes and abundance, who can’t believe you aren’t undone by the ﬁnancial crisis or the pandemic that everyone is so worried about, who see the same version of you no matter what you’re going through. You may still experience and express a range of emotions through those ups and downs, and you may need to work through some of them with God, but you begin to take on His nature and His peace. You manifest a supernatural calm and conﬁdence regardless of your circumstances. You seem a lot more like Jesus than the disciples in that storm-tossed boat.
That’s God’s agenda for you, and when you become teachable in the midst of your circumstances, you learn what you can change and stop focusing on things you can’t change. In any situation, you are able to thank God for what you do have and quit dwelling on what you don’t have. And you begin to see every circumstance as an opportunity to demonstrate something of the nature of God and see it being formed in you.
Chip Ingram appears this Monday on LIFE TODAY. This is an excerpt from I Choose Peace by Chip Ingram. Copyright ©2021 by Chip Ingram. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Used by permission.