JOB 29:1-4: “Job continued his poems and said, “If only my life could be like it used to be, in the days when God watched over me, when he made his lamp shine on my head, when I walked through the dark in his light. If only I were in the prime of my life ⌊again⌋, when God was an adviser in my tent.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: What are two of the most common emotional pitfalls of life? They are,
- “The grass is greener somewhere else.”
- “The days of old are better than the present.”
These are two “emotional escapes” that we tend to run to when we are faced with a difficult struggle in life, or when we are called to do something that we do not want to do. This can include, just to name a few – the call to patiently wait on the Lord, work through an unpleasant situation, forgive an offending party, ask forgiveness for an offense we have caused, or work through a troubled relationship. All of these call for faith, patience, and obedience. All of these call for the willingness to suffer. And that is where we can fall into these two emotional pitfalls. We can either pine for the “good old days”, or we can run to the next field of “green grass”. Either way, the issue at hand is not solved, it is but delayed. Rest assured, it will come knocking again, with greater force, and increased demands!
These emotional pitfalls are completely understandable. We have all opted for them. Job, in his prolonged suffering, falls into the “good old days” pit. He begins to pine for the past. The funny thing about this pitfall is that we tend to romanticize and sanitize the past. Our emotional preservation mechanism begins to block out the former difficulties we have faced, and we only seem to recall the good memories. The past we begin to long for is nothing more than a modified memory, that is neither accurate nor helpful to our current dilemma. Rather than focus on the past, we must seek the Lord for our present and our future! There is no such thing as the “good old days”. There is only the former days, and the days ahead.
God is calling us to seek His will to move forward in our lives! We cannot afford to get stuck in the past!
Then there is the “grass is always greener” pitfall. Have you ever looked at someone else’s yard and wondered – “How do they keep it so nice?” It appears that the grass is greener, the flowers have more blooms, and there are no weeds in sight! This is only a deception from our misplaced perception. We are in the thick of our grass and weeds, looking straight down at them. Yet, we are viewing the “other grass” only from a distance. This distance is why it seems so “green”, and why it seems to be a situation without struggle or difficulty. Yet, after this deception by misplaced perception is blown away by shear reality, we find ourselves in just another weed filled plot of grass! And worse than that, we have carried weeds from our old grass into this new situation. We are surprised to find that our current state is now much worse.
If only we had simply rolled up our sleeves, stayed where we were, and pulled some of our own weeds! Green grass comes through hard work!
All of these metaphors are simply examples to say – it is always better to trust and obey, than it is to simply cut and run. A strong marriage takes work and commitment. A vital faith takes patient endurance. A healthy friendship takes forgiveness and reconciliation. A growing heart takes repentance and surrender. It is never the easy road that leads to spiritual maturity – it is always the narrow road. The narrow road is obedience to the Word of God and the Spirit of God. The narrow road is the way of the Cross. It is the call to die to ourselves and to live for Him. It is the call to suffer for righteousness and walk in His love.
The way of the Cross is the only way to stay out of the pits that keep us trapped in cycles that are both deceiving and destructive.
The way of the Cross leads to His Great Grace!
Lord, forgive me for the times I have avoided the call to pick up my cross and follow You. Grant me that grace to always choose the narrow road – the way of the Cross! Keep my feet from slipping into these common pitfalls. Help me endure so that my faith will mature!
In Jesus Name!