In the last couple weeks, the Lord has repeatedly brought my attention to the truth that every moment of my days is an opportunity to live for His renown. There are so many distractions which encompass me, both internally and externally: busyness, irritations, disappointments, heartbreaks, loss, expectations, rejection, choices of others, sickness...the list goes on and on. All of these distractions, if they capture my focus and imagination, can in turn affect me in such a way that I become a distraction to the renown of the Lord.
In II Corinthians 12:7-10, we find Paul in a similar situation of distraction. The Lord allowed something in Paul's life which Paul refers to as "a thorn in my flesh". This thorn in Paul's flesh was greatly disturbing to him. He went to the Lord three different times, pleading with Him to take this thorn from his life. The Lord's response to Paul was, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
When Paul received this answer from the Lord, a connection was made in his spirit. A deep understanding filled him and he said, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
These words greatly encourage me. They show me that the distractions which the Lord allows in my life are opportunities for His strength to be displayed through me. The question is: will I recognize these distractions as opportunities for His renown, or will I demand to see my own expectations fulfilled?
Romans 12:1 tells me that my spiritual act of worship is to offer my body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. I am called to be an offering of uninterrupted worship. In essence this means that every part of my life is to point to God...nothing about me should detract from Him. Uninterrupted worship is what Jesus talks of in John 4:23...true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth...
Worshipping in spirit and truth means that my thoughts and imaginations are devoted to the truth of God. Nothing else is allowed to rule over my thoughts and imaginations. II Corinthians 10:3-5 says, For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. In other words, nothing that the world has to offer captivates me more than Christ -- not even its weapons! My imaginations are captured by the very Word of God.
Too often, my default reaction in distraction is to fight like the world. Belittling words are met with defense...hindrance is met with impatience...inconveniences are met with grumbling...ailments are met with complaint...the unexpected is met with fear...but in Christ, these default reactions need no longer be the norm for me. If they have surfaced, it is because I have allowed my thoughts and imaginations to be taken captive by the arguments and pretensions of the world. When this happens, I am allowing a situation to control me, permitting it to develop into such a distraction that it becomes a stronghold in my life...it has taken a stronger hold on my thoughts than the truth of Christ. Sadly, as a result, worship of the Father is rudely interrupted, for my focus is directed toward defending my own rights rather than living for His renown.
Part II will soon follow...