Step off your mat....

What’s keeping you from getting up off of your mat today? What is paralyzing you?

My devotional time this morning took me to the story of the lame man, the one whose friends brought him to see Jesus and went so far as to climb on the top of the home where he was teaching, remove sections of the ceiling and lowering their friend right down smack in the middle of the room. I can’t imagine the reaction of the people crowded into that meeting place with Jesus, and then to see the look on Jesus’ face. What a moment, if only to be a fly on the wall in that room! Amazing what his friends were willing to do to help the lame man-the love, the fiercely loyal friendship and commitment to see their friend healed and whole. I can’t imagine what that must have been like for this man. No sooner was he in the room with Jesus, laying there on his mat, then Jesus was speaking words of healing over this lame man. “Get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, he walked, and he went home praising God the whole way and the people who witnessed it gave God praise too that day for the miracle they had witnessed. What an amazing moment.

As I prayed this morning, I immediately asked God, “What’s keeping me on my mat? What is it that keeps my toe, my one foot from stepping off and walking on, trusting You in full and complete obedience and abundant faith?” I could think of a few things that I am sure you are too.

Fear. Doubt. Uncertainty. The unknown. So many questions. So few answers.

Is it a head issue or a heart issue? Perhaps it is a little of both? There are days my head is full of racing thoughts, what I have to get done today, what I have to deal with at work, with my family, with relationships, with church, and it very well sets me on a path toward near spontaneous combustion. At least it feels like it, some days I think my head is literally going to spin right off my shoulders from how dizzying life can be to keep up with. So how do I match my head and my heart with what I know to be true from the day I first committed my life to Christ? I don’t have an easy or quick answer. Simply put, it is a choice I have to make every single moment of every single day. And some days I really suck at it. Other days I am filled with a confidence that practically bursts out of my chest and comes out of my mouth in a glorious shout of victory! The in between days, when I’m somewhere in the middle, caught between the crap of life and the confidence of Christ---well, those are often the most difficult days. That’s when I must realize God’s seemingly slow response is in fact an opportunity He is allowing for me to see the benefit of growing my faith in Him. I don’t like it. I want an answer. And I want a good answer. And often I am guilty of going so far as asking God for an answer I have dreamed up as the solution to my problem. There’s a measure of faith we often do not allow to take place in us when we tell God what we want Him to do based on what we think is the solution. Bottom line: we don’t know what is best for us in that very moment. We come up with some really sweet ideas, but ultimately we haven’t even bothered to start by asking, “God, what is your perfect will and purpose for me in this moment?”

It starts with getting rid of every distraction—even if we ourselves are the distraction—and focusing first on the glory and perfect presence of our God in our lives. We acknowledge His glory and power, we recognize and confess our weakness, we ask and accept His loving forgiveness, and we lay our hearts bare before Him. Then we wait. Why do we wait? Because by choosing to be quiet, still and focused on our God, He is able to do His work in our lives. Remember what Paul talked about in the New Testament? That thorn. That darn thorn in his side. What was it exactly? Don’t know. But God didn’t remove it, no matter how many times Paul asked. God chose to teach him, speak to him and remind him that He had a good purpose for allowing it. I’m sure it wasn’t the answer Paul wanted, but as we read through the New Testament, we see how Paul continually leans into God, teaches us how these trials, these struggles, these challenges are far better endured when we choose to give God glory in spite of it. That’s hard to hear, hard to read, a big pill to swallow depending on what your “thorn” is.

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, NLT)

What is keeping you from stepping off your mat today? What is keeping you from walking in confidence in spite of what life has handed you, and declaring God’s glorious purpose over your life? I’m praying this for you today. I’m praying you choose to do more than simply “hang in there”. It is something we tell each other more often than any other phrase. How about another phrase? Hang on to God. Lean into Him. Give him all of your burdens, and change your thought process right this moment by declaring, “I have faith in you God, to do your perfect will in my life!” Make an effort today to spend more time seeking Him, reading His Word, praying and crying out to Him, letting some powerful worship music wash over you and your faith will be strengthened. Don’t give up, because He never gives up on you!

Join me in stepping off that mat and walk toward God’s greater purpose. You can do it. Let’s do it together.
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