Be the Courageous Chicken and Carefully Cross the Road

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Running for some people is a time to think and to process. For me, it’s more a time to shut down. I mindlessly listen to music or, if I’m feeling rather ambitious, I’ll listen to a podcast episode or audiobook. I don’t mind running the same route as long as it’s one I enjoy, especially on a pretty day.

One afternoon, I laced up my tennis shoes and headed out for a run. It was warm outside, but not too hot, and the afternoon sun was high and clear. Per usual, I headed down the same street I always run, lightly jogging to get started. An adorable neighborhood is on the right side of this street and a beautiful green meadow lines the left side.

I wasn’t picking up much speed since I’d just begun; instead, I was just cruising along on the left sidewalk, admiring the bright greens in the meadow. Just as I gazed down the sidewalk, a small brown bundle shot out from a patch of overgrowth into the street with such speed my eyes barely registered it. By the time I realized it was a bunny that had darted clear out in the street, it had long since disappeared into the overgrown ditch on the other side of the road, opposite me.

During this brief moment, my adrenaline had kicked in, but it wasn’t until a few seconds later that I realized it. After the clearing of the bunny, I felt a warm rush move through extremities and my heart sped up as it reacted to the adrenaline coursing through my veins. I kept moving forward to try to calm my nerves while also trying to steady my breathing a bit.

You see, the sudden movement that came from out of nowhere gave me quite a little jolt of fear. No matter that it was a bunny; it was still unexpected. And even after processing that the small, speedy motion was only a bunny, I still felt the after-effects of such a rush.

Obviously the bunny was harmless, but wow! It was making a move! And this bunny not only caught my attention, he startled me. The bunny must also have been watching for traffic because there wasn’t a car in sight when it made its dash to the other side.

Though this comparison might be a bit cliche, I think sometimes we need to be more like this bunny.

Occasionally it’s just good to make a change. If you have a longing for something on the other side of the road, and your longing is for something good, it’s ok to cross the road. Maybe you’re a quiet, bashful person who has a desire to make a rather grand leap. Bound away! If change hasn’t been your thing, but you’d like to mix things up, get to shakin’. You may not be one to keep people on their toes, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But if a little bit of change is going to give you an extra pep in your step, it’s worth pushing yourself. Remember, too, that sometimes you may just have to give yourself a shove one direction or another.

Now mind you, I don’t mean a dangerous, bad, or super risky move, nor do I mean one for which you’re unprepared. Again, consider the bunny. He didn’t run over and bite me nor did he live so dangerously he got hit by a car. Rash decisions should be cautioned. I’d go so far as to say, don’t make them. But there’s something to be said for being thoughtful, purpose-driven, well-prepared, and courageous. If you want to get to the other side, you must cross the road; just do so carefully and after having prepared beforehand.

We can become rather unhappy without even knowing it. I think it’s gradual a lot of the time, which is why it’s more difficult to sense. But try to take a step back and evaluate where you are. Are you content? And if not, is there something you can do about it? Be smart about the changes you make, but know it’s ok to have the courage to make some.

Most importantly, pray, seek God’s will, and ask for his guidance. Then, continually ask for patience in the meantime. If you’re walking daily with God and pursuing His will, He will make your paths straight.

 

In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:6

When the Choice You Need to Make Isn’t the One Culture Suggests

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Making decisions is difficult, but they become increasingly stressful when the choice you need to make isn’t the one culture suggests. In those circumstances, it’s important we turn to Scripture to seek guidance.

But know this: Hard times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self–control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people.
2 Timothy 3: 1-5

So many of the things listed in the above verses have become “the norm.” Doesn’t culture tell us to be “lovers of pleasure” (v. 4a)? In doing so, culture simultaneously and consequently tells us to choose pleasure “rather than [be] lovers of God” (v. 4b). And isn’t money held in highest esteem? Isn’t boasting, pride, and conceit traits which are encouraged amongst society?

The conflict of culture versus God isn’t anything new. Let’s consider Sarah. God promised Abraham and Sarah (Abram and Sarai at the time, pre name change) that they would have many descendants (Genesis 12:2); however, they were older and by Genesis chapter 16, Sarah was tired of waiting and thus decided to take matters into her own hands. She told her husband to take Hagar as his wife, to which Abraham did not object. What we must keep in mind is that Sarah’s suggestion was a cultural norm at the time. While we balk and gawk at this decision, having your maidservant sub in during Sarah’s day and age was anything but unheard of; in fact, it was common practice.

It’s hard not to wonder, though, what Sarah felt or thought, deep down. If she’d been honest with herself, did she feel ill at ease with this idea? Had she hoped Abraham would object to this proposition? Culture told her one thing, but God had told her something different.

Culture tells us that we can say we are Christians but continue to act in sinful ways. Yet Scripture warns of people who will be “holding to the form of godliness but denying its power” (v. 5). So what must we do to hold to the form of godliness but embrace God’s power? We must allow God to come into our lives and invade our every day. Think about when a king or queen entered a room during his or her reign. Absolutely everything changed. The room straightened. The atmosphere shifted from one of lax to one of authority. So, too, are our lives to change when we ask Christ to be our king. He is to engulf every part of our lives so that our life is completely different, as though a king has entered it. When the Risen King enters our life, nothing can be the same. Culture tells us one thing, but God calls us to something different.

Timothy is pretty forthright here. Not only does he provide a detailed explanation of how people will become, he says to avoid these people. (See also 1 Corinthians 15:33.) Timothy was warning his audience so that they would not be influenced by such acts. We are to love God and love others (Luke 10:27), but we aren’t to allow ourselves to become corrupt in the process. James chapter 4, verse 7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Being like Christ only when it’s convenient and putting ourselves in situations we know we’ll be tempted isn’t part of the deal. But doesn’t culture imply this is ok?

Sometimes in life there comes a time when you must make a decision to go the right way or the wrong one. Making right decisions is hard, and it’s hardly ever the popular route. But take comfort in knowing that this isn’t a surprise: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Have you made wrong decisions? Yes. We all have. We have all fallen short. But we are always given a choice to make new decisions. Every day we are given this opportunity. Christ gives us a chance to be redeemed, and He can redeem anything.

We can stand back and see the folly, but we have to make the decision to not be a part of it. And you can make that decision! Be encouraged that you are called to be a lover of God, and make the choice not to just know that, but to be that.