More Like Jesus and Less Like Jessie

From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

I had a rotten week. (Online, my week looked great, but in my “real life” it was a tough one.)

Do you remember the man at the pool of Basadia?

The Bible says:

And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.

Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

So, this man had something wrong with him where he couldn’t walk for 38 years. Right there, I’m convicted, because I’ve had a bad WEEK. Ha. I can still walk.

But the interesting thing to me is that this man has Jesus standing right in front of him, asking if he wants to be healed.

To me, that’s an easy yes. But this man starts talking about the people around him and how it’s their fault that he hasn’t gotten what he wants.

Ha. Convicted again. I want to blame everyone else for my bad mood, my hurting heart, my discontent and overwhelming sadness.

I’m just like that man – Jesus is right HERE offering solace and solutions and hope and peace – and I’m blaming everything and everyone else rather than looking to Jesus.

But the Bible tells me clearly what to do when I’m overwhelmed – go to the rock that is higher than I.

I’m not home and I’ve been without a piano for almost two weeks. I’ve been relegated to singing. (Sorry, neighbors. Actually, between the jack hammer on one side of the house and the roofers on the other, they can’t hear me. lol) I’ve been singing that old hymn, Higher Ground.

One of the lines says, “I want to live above the world, though Satan’s darts at me are hurled.”

That was SUCH an encouragement to me this week. Not because I think I’m better than the world, but because the picture it paints in my mind of standing on “the rock that is higher than I” and it’s such a calming thought. That Satan can throw his darts at me – he hit me with a few this week – but that God can lift me up to “higher ground” and the world and all its problems and pain is not my focus.

I bet Satan shoots at you too. It’s funny, but our enemy seems to know exactly when to fire at us. Not when we’re on top of the world feeling good about ourselves. But when we’re having a bad week. He knows what hurts me, where I’m vulnerable, what gets me upset and makes me cry. He knows. And he knows when I’m weak, when I’m already struggling with other things, that’s the best time for him to hit me with it.

I want to pray and say, God take this from me! Make those people be nice. Make them do the kind things they never think of. Make them stop with the thing that hurts, the thing I’ve struggled with for a while now. At the very least, make them go away.

I’ve actually been hesitant to do that. Not that I haven’t been praying, but I’ve hesitated to ask God to “fix” the people around me, because I know it’s me that needs “fixed.” Or at least it’s me that needs to learn how to handle this. How to not allow people’s words and actions to hurt me.

Maybe that’s maturity, maybe it’s stupidity, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve prayed less and less that God would change my circumstances and the people around me and more and more that God would change me. Isn’t that the goal of our Christian life? To become more like Christ. Did we think that was going to be easy and painless?

How am I going to become more like Christ if God fixes every circumstance I’m in, if he changes the people around me to be what I think they should be, without me having to do anything? As much as I hate to face that fact (I want the pain to stop!) it’s the truth – sure, God can fix anything, but when He does, He deprives me of the opportunity to grow and become better. To handle problems and people (because they’re not really the same thing, right?) the way He would.

I know God wants me to go to the Rock. To be lifted up above all that. To not let the world and the neglect and unkindnesses there bother me because my God is all I need.

I was thinking about this verse, too:  Lamentations 3:22-23 It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, Because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: Great is thy faithfulness.

(And yeah, I was also singing the great hymn that is based on it.)

But it reminded me about this: the Christian life isn’t really about having great victories. It’s more about having moment by moment victories. Getting through this second, this phone call, this meal, this morning.

Actually, not just getting through, but doing it with grace and strength and with the peace of God in your soul and life – becoming better, more like Jesus and less like Jessie.

So that….

– when people hurt you or are inconsiderate, you respond with kindness and love.

– when tough things happen, you take your thoughts captive, one by one and focus on the things that are good and right and pure and lovely.

– when frustrations and anger overwhelm you and you’re tempted to lash out, you calm your emotions and focus on letting it go.

– when Satan hurls his darts at you and you feel neglected, unseen and unloved, slighted or painfully used, you stand above all that, above your feelings, and focus on the Rock that is real, your strong tower, your “safe place.” The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.

– when the storms of life hit you hard, you remember that Jesus is right there. Right HERE. And you talk to Him. You don’t need to call and cry on anyone’s shoulder, (I’m not saying talking to friends is a bad thing, but going to Jesus should be FIRST, but so often, it’s last) you have Jesus right in front of you. Why do we look to so many other things to heal our hurts, dry our tears, make us happy when Jesus – the one who spoke the world into existence – is right here?

– when your situation or circumstances or the expectations other people have of you feel oppressive and more than you can handle, you give it to God. Second by second if necessary. Remembering that He’s shown us the way through – look to Him and focus on the good.

It’s all about perspective, right? When we’re overwhelmed and we go to the rock, the view is much different than it is when we’re sitting by the pool, grumbling because no one is doing what we want, or even need, them to do. Our perspective is different, our priorities shift and our attitude changes.

I had times – a lot of times, actually – this week where I just stopped what I was doing and pulled my Bible app up. I’ve been through it so many times and I have a ton of verses highlighted. I scanned through them, looking for the ones I needed. Verses of hope. Of comfort. Sweet promises that God is in control. That he rewards those who are faithful to Him, no matter what the rest of the world is doing. (I had other times where I wiped the tears from my cheeks and fought the pain in my heart.)

That’s running to the Rock. That’s shifting my perspective from myself and my pain to God and His promises. That’s finding my strength in God. Changing the way I think. Not allowing my knee-jerk reactions, but allowing God’s word to change me from the inside out, to shape me and form me into what He wants me to be. Reaching out to my God and depending on Him to meet my needs and comfort my soul.

When the Psalmist’s soul was overwhelmed, he went to the rock. Let that be true for me, as well.

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