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Posts Tagged ‘comparing ourselves to others’

It can be so easy at times, can’t it, to criticise others? I would never say anything so silly or so rude, I may decide, as I listen to someone talk nonsense. Or I may watch someone act in a certain way and think, I would never do that. Yes, I am adept at such thoughts. And my pride will often not allow me to realise I may be just the same.

I had my critic’s hat well and truly on recently as I read Jesus’ words about being the good shepherd who would lay down his life for his sheep and give them eternal life (John 10:1-30). This divided those present who then tried to stone Jesus.

Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” John 10:31-33

Then I noticed I had put two little exclamation marks in the margin beside these verses on some previous occasion. Yes, I thought, I must have found these verses staggering then, just as I do now. What a weird response from those Jews! How could they possibly not believe in Jesus, after seeing his miracles firsthand? They couldn’t deny them, but, somehow, they simply ignored them and pushed on with their charges against him. How crazy is that?

The next day, I came to the account of how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and how many Jews put their faith in Jesus as a result (11:1-45).  Yes, surely this is to be expected, I thought. But then I read how some still did not believe and indeed went to the Pharisees to tell them what Jesus had done. And what did these Pharisees do then? They called a meeting—of course! And what a dilemma they had.

What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him …” (47-48)

How ridiculous, I thought again. They could not deny Jesus’ miracles, yet they could not bring themselves to believe in him either. What a stupid and dangerous way to respond!

Then it was that I heard that gentle rebuke from God somewhere inside me. Would you have been any different, Jo-Anne? And … what about the miracles I perform each day in your own life that you miss entirely?

I sat back and reflected. Yes, there just outside my window were those trees gently swaying in the breeze and that beautiful, blue sky. Yes, this past week, we saw two of our grandchildren and marvelled at how much they had grown. Yes, this past while, God had enabled me to finish editing someone’s manuscript in time. Yes, there was this. Yes, there was that. So many miracles came to mind then—so many I had overlooked or taken for granted or explained away.

I may not have seen any resurrections or physical healings this past week—but I saw miracles, just the same. May I never miss them again. And may I always be so thankful to God for them.

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Here we are at the brink of 2013, with a blank slate before us yet again. Some of us may feel we know already what our year will contain. For others, there may be all sorts of unknowns, options, possibilities, decisions ahead. But for all of us, there will no doubt be those challenges or hiccups along the way we didn’t foresee that may threaten to discourage or even derail us.

I love the Psalms. Even when I am reading another part of Scripture, I keep on returning to them. And as I did this yet again recently, I came upon Psalm 25:15:

My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.

What is this snare King David talks about here, I wondered. What will such snares be for me in 2013? What traps lie ahead for you, do you think?

In one sense, such snares or traps are by definition unexpected—we don’t know where or what they are so we fall into them. But judging from past experience, for me one of the most obvious could be failing to give myself enough time, in the midst of everything else involved in a writer’s life, for actually writing. There is nothing like being truly creative, listening to what my characters want to say and do, letting my imagination take wings. This brings me such fulfilment. And in those times, God is also very close—even intrinsically involved in the whole process.

Another obvious trap for me could be forging ahead in my own strength and according to my own wisdom, rather than looking to God for such things. I should know by now not to load myself down with speaking engagements, for example, that may not be God’s idea, but instead may arise from my own fear that God is incapable of providing me with such opportunities. Of course I have to play my part in finding these, but there is a fine balance between trusting in God and trusting in myself.

Yet another possible trap for me could be comparing myself with other authors. Their books are so different from mine. Am I completely on the wrong track? They seem to be doing so well—everyone seems to be reading their books. Should I try to change my style? Should I stop writing altogether? Should I expend my energy in other, more fruitful directions?

But the trap that could present the most danger for me in 2013 is that of crowding God out in the midst of everything else. How could that happen? How could I possibly lose sight of my Lord, the one who gives life, who comforts, guides and sustains? Yet I have found, even in a busy ministry and speaking role, how easily this can happen. Our enemy doesn’t give up and is always busily setting those snares and hiding those traps.

So today, on the brink of a new year, I take note again of David’s words in Psalm 25:15. It is only God, I know, who is capable of helping me see those hidden traps and of releasing my feet when I do stumble into them. I want to walk through 2013 with my eyes on the Lord, who alone can show me the way ahead.

How about you? Are your eyes in the right place too as you step into the new year?

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