Keeping It Real

Last Friday, I wrote about the plans Laura and I had for the weekend – we were getting away for 24 hours to build into our marriage.  Honestly, I hope a lot of married couples were inspired to do the same whether you have kids or not.  But I would also guess there were some people who read that post and felt discouraged.  If you were in that second group, this post is for you!

Maybe your marriage is in trouble and you were depressed to realize you really wouldn’t want 24 uninterrupted hours with your spouse.  Maybe you were frustrated that your spouse never suggests something like this.  Maybe it was an unpleasant reminder that you aren’t married yet and the whole idea just seemed like a cruel fantasy.  Maybe you read it on your phone at the end of a long day while making dinner and listening to the kids fight in the other room.

It’s amazing how quickly comparison kills our joy.

Social media puts the comparison trap in front of us on a daily basis.  There’s always somebody doing something awesome in my newsfeed.  Someone’s always in the Caribbean.  Someone is always getting promoted, buying a house or going on the “BEST first date EVER:)!!!!”  We compare all of that to our boring, ordinary lives and feel miserable.  My friend is surfing in Costa Rica and I’m doing an expense report…wow, I hate my life!

The problem is we’re comparing our real lives with an idealized version of someone else’s.  I’m writing all of this today because our little getaway wasn’t as ideal as you might think.

  • Our night away started with a quick trip to Urgent Care.  Laura has asthma and pregnancy can exacerbate it significantly.  When I left for work on Friday morning, she sounded fine.  By 1.30 in the afternoon, she sounded like an 85 year old smoker who couldn’t breathe.  One breathing treatment, a new prescription and a few hours later we finally got to the hotel much later than planned.  Not exactly the fairy tale beginning you might have imagined.
  • For the record, God didn’t bless us with an unexpected upgrade to the Presidential Suite.  We were in what is probably the smallest room in the hotel.  No big deal but don’t fall into the trap of believing God only shows His love in unexpected blessings.
  • We couldn’t agree on a good place for dessert so we ended up the only customers in some cupcake shop splitting a gluten free cupcake (it was all they had left).  For the record, I believe it was gluten free because it was baked before the discovery of wheat!
  • On Saturday morning, a simple conversation about schedules turned into a fairly significant and at times heated disagreement about some issues that had been building up for awhile.

Before you get too depressed, let me say our disagreement morphed into one of the best conversations we’ve ever had about our marriage.  By the end of that conversation, we both felt more united and excited about our marriage.  So, the weekend was not a bust – we had a good time and were super grateful to get away.

Steven Furtick makes this point so well, “We struggle with insecurity because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”  Don’t fall into that trap – enjoy the life God has put in front of you today.

Dealing With A Defeated Lion

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. ” – 1 Peter 5:8-9

If you’re following Jesus, you have an enemy.  Make no mistake about it – he’s wicked, ruthless, cunning and bent on your destruction.  He’s stalking you and he would love to take you out of the game.  He’ll throw discouragement your way.  He’ll whisper lies into your heart.  He’ll tempt you to sin.  He’ll mock you for your failures.  He hates you.  And he’s very real.

Pretty frightening words, huh?

I know many of us on the Restoration City Launch Team have felt the weight and truth of these words more in the past few weeks than we have in a while.  There’s been strain in marriages.  There’s been uncertainty with employment.  There’s been discouragement in school or at work or with friends.  Many of us are realizing that when we made the decision to help plant a church, we put a spiritual bullseye on ourselves.

When those attacks come, we need to remember that 1 Peter was written to Christians suffering under Roman persecution.  When Peter writes of suffering he’s talking about the terror unleashed by Nero.  He’s writing to a group who knew pain all too well.

But he’s also calling that church to fight!  He’s calling us to resist.  To stand firm in the truths of the gospel.  To remember that Satan may be a roaring lion but he’s a defeated lion.  Jesus wins!  We’ve been adopted into the family of God.  Our Father owns everything in all creation (Psalm 50) and Jesus has absolutely all authority on heaven and earth (Matthew 28).  We’re precious in His sight and He fights for us always! (Exodus 14)

If you’re going through a hard time, look to Jesus!  He’s our life.  He’s our hope.  He’s our strength.  He’s our refuge.  He’s our protector.  He’s our King.  And the defeated lion of this world is no match for the One who lives in us.

So, take heart.  This road is long and it’s hard.  No one ever said planting a church would be easy but it’s worth it.  And Jesus is fighting for you every step of the way.