What Is Our Greatest Challenge?
Jerry N. Duncan, Ph.D., ABPP
If you are expecting this conversation to be about trials and adversity, you are partially right. We have discussed that before. It is important to know you have tools that help you get through tough and devastating life circumstances. I hope you will remember the three promises God makes about problems and difficulties—1) They are normal and to be expected; 2) God clearly promises to give us everything we need to get through the difficult times; and 3) He has promised to have the “last say” in all our struggles, and make them to ultimately work out to our good in some way.
I want to talk with you today about what I think might be an even greater struggle than getting through tough circumstances in our lives. I am wondering if God’s greatest desire for us, a moment-to-moment, walking/talking relationship with us, might be our greatest challenge.
It is difficult for me to understand why something that is so beneficial to me is so hard to establish and maintain. Think about it. If you are a follower of Jesus, at some time in your relationship with Him, you have felt comfort, confidence, peace, joy, contentment, clear direction, and a clear recognition of His voice. Why would we want to give this up?
Isn’t it interesting that everything God asks of us is actually designed to benefit us. Even His desire for closeness and intimacy with us is designed for our good. Don’t get me wrong, God loves and enjoys our presence with Him. But, it seems to be His nature to only ask of us things that will ultimately come back and meet some need we have.
It is so easy to lose the intentional focus that seems to be necessary for this great opportunity. We have so many responsibilities and interests that often distract us from intimate time with anyone—including God.
Some use the phrase, “tyranny of the urgent” to describe how busyness and apparent emergencies in our circumstances require so much of our time and emotional energy that we become unable to have quantity or quality time in any of our relationships. Time in relationship with others, including God, was intended to have both components—quantity and quality.
You might be asking the question, “Why are the good habits so hard to develop, and the bad habits so easy to develop?” I am not sure I know the answer to that question. I do know that I have never had to be intentional and work hard at developing a bad habit.
If you decide to face and deal with life’s greatest and yet most rewarding challenge, you will have to be intentional, and you will have to work at it. My understanding of one of the benefits of becoming a follower of Jesus is that He promised to work from within us and help us with the intention and the strength.
Praying throughout the day as we awaken, get ready for and pursue our day’s responsibilities, and end our day at home in bed—can be done. Having our Bible available throughout the day with our other books, day planners, etc. is possible. There are even free Bible programs that you can download on your phone or laptop if that’s more convenient. Listening to Christian music as we drive, or when we are sitting somewhere listening to our iPods or mp3 players is doable. Hanging out with other followers of Jesus is a choice.
Are you up for the challenge?