Welcome to the Patchwork Blog! I hope you enjoy reading my random thoughts about life, Jesus and the freedom he offers.

Monday, 14 December 2015

When the rubber hits the road

I have been challenged over recent months to change the way I think, especially in the area of gratitude and what I think about myself. It is so easy to say 'Trust the Lord' or 'look at God not your situation'. I often listen to the song 'Turn your eyes upon Jesus'. I particularly enjoy the Hillsongs version. But I am going to be honest with you. I am not turning my eyes upon Jesus. Not really. Not most of the time. What I am actually doing is looking at my situation and outwardly saying I trust God. I often say I am going to trust God but I am not trusting Him. I say He is the centre of my life but then fill it with other things instead. I say I am grateful for all He does for me and then never thank Him. 

I worry a lot. I have been especially anxious over recent months. There is always too much month left at the end of the money and bills seem overwhelming. But when I look back at what God has done for me before I find no basis for my worry. Jesus has never let me go without the things I need. During a time of unemployment, when I didn't have the money for my mortgage, I got a letter from my bank saying 'We mis-sold you PPI. Please fill in this form and we will repay you'. The amount I got was enough for the mortgage. I hadn't even considered applying for this as I didn't think I qualified for it. At the beginning of this year I was off sick for two and a half months following a knee replacement. Given I don't get full sick pay, and I am not eligible for mortgage relief from the government for 3 months of each claim, it was a worrying time. However, shortly after seeing my surgeon, I got a letter from the working tax credit department. They were back dating my claim and the payment was enough for 3 mortgage payments. I could go on but you will be relieved to know I will not. 

So why do I not remember these things in a time of need? Yet again, I focus on the situation and start worrying. I allow anxious thoughts to go round and round my mind. I have read the Word of God so why do I not believe it? I mean really believe it. I say the words. I mentally assent to the truth but when the rubber hits the road...I worry instead of believing. I believe the first worrying thought that pops into my mind. 

And it is not just in the area of provision. I say that as a Christian I should love everyone but then I come up against someone I find difficult to get along with for one reason or another. I find myself hating this person not loving them. I may not say this out loud but I am thinking it. This happened recently to me. I was feeling very angry and hateful towards someone with whom I am in regular contact. At first I wallowed in my negativity. I felt justified in it. This person was causing pain and upset to someone I really like and respect. But my attitude was not Christ-like. This is where the rubber hits the road as far as being a Christian goes. I speak of a God of love but can I love the unlovely as He does? I decided I needed to change my attitude. While still acknowledging that the person was in fact in the wrong in one area that was causing pain  to others, I also realised that I needed to get along with them and see them as Jesus does.

I started by giving thanks for this person. It was really hard to do. It took every once of will power to say it to God. 'Lord I thank you for X'. I asked God to help me and then just did it- as an act of my will. The more I gave thanks for this person the more I found my attitude changing.  Day by day I worked on this until I could pray for them with love. I am now able to get along with this person much more easily. I can pray that God will bring this person into His Kingdom and I mean it. But it was hard work. It was spiritual warfare. 

Paul in Philippians 2:12 says the following . 

'Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear' (NLT)
It is really hard work to change the way we think. In my experience it takes a combination of will power and the Holy Spirit.  If I tell myself 'I can't help it', 'I can't change' then I will never change. If I tell myself 'I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength' (Philippians 4:13) and repeat the truth of it to myself again and again my heart will gradually change. If I thank God for the person I find so difficult He will change me by the power of the Holy Spirit. For me it goes to the heart of my faith. If the blood of Jesus is as powerful as I believe it is then I can work with God to change my thoughts.

The Christian life is not easy. Believing God above your circumstances is not easy (no prizes for spotting the massive understatement!). But boy is it rewarding. I feel so much more peace now I have learned to love this difficult person with the love that God has given me. The hate was so much more tiring. I am now working on my anxiety and worry. And I know I will be successful. For I know in whom I have believed. He died to set me free. This is real spiritual warfare. Allowing God to change our hearts.

What one thought can you ask God to help you begin to change?

Blessings to you all.