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When I Realized I Was Lukewarm

In 2012, I was in a near-fatal car accident and suffered extensive brain injury as a result. Up till then, I had been working as a family doctor in northwest Indiana, USA, for six years.

From my earliest recollections following my accident, I remember hearing over and over again that people who suffer a brain injury have to find a “new normal.” They said my brain injury was so severe that there was no chance of me going back to who I was before my accident.

However, for the first several months, I shocked nearly everyone with my unexpected, unexplainable, and rather quick recovery. This led me to believe that my brain injury wasn’t nearly as bad as my doctors had suggested and that I’d be back to my old self—my old normal—in no time at all.

But it wouldn’t be long before my recovery slowed down to a crawl and it became clear that I simply wasn’t going to return to my old self again. The long-standing effects of my brain injury had become undeniable.

I no longer had the mental capacity and the ability to easily remember any and all sorts of information. No matter how much effort I put into it or how hard I tried, the focus and concentration I once had was no longer there. This, as well as many other signs, pointed me to the realization that my doctors had been right from the start. I now had a new and very different kind of normal.

This led to a season where I felt overwhelmed by my new reality and I started angrily asking God a lot of questions about what He was doing. I still consider the day of my accident “the day my life changed forever.”

However, a second life-changing day took place about the same time I was starting to question God’s plan for my life.

I was at a Christian media conference in Dallas, an event I had begrudgingly agreed to go to with my wife. Even though I went to the conference with low expectations, to my surprise, I heard a Bible verse while I was there that would change the trajectory of my life once again!

The verse was from Revelation 3:15-16:

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Now, this wasn’t an unfamiliar verse to me. It was one I’d heard plenty of times before . . . but this time something was very different. It affected me in a way it never had previously. Every time I heard this verse in the past, I’d thought, “Man, I’d hate to be one of those lukewarm guys spit out by God!” But when I heard those words that day, I suddenly became aware and convicted of my lukewarmness, and thought to myself, “I think I’m actually one of them.”

You see, I had always tried my very best to make my faith an important part of who I was. I never strayed too far from the church or God, and most people thought of me as being a “good Christian.” But I had an awakening that day and realized how “lukewarm” I truly was.

Part of that awakening involved starting to understand that I’d been following an “inverted gospel.” I claimed to be following Jesus, but in reality, I’d just invited him to follow me. I had never fully given everything to God and was still trying to handle most things myself. I thought that Jesus was a way for me to get what I wanted and to help me stay comfortable, but never considered how much He deserved from me. I don’t think I ever fully trusted that God knew what was best for me so I made sure to always take the lead.

This realization lit a fire inside of me that I’d never experienced before. I wanted to learn more about who Jesus truly was and what a life completely surrendered to Him was supposed to look like. I felt like I’d been given a second chance to leave behind my lukewarm ways and to live a life completely for God, the only kind He deserves and the kind I should have been living all along.

My whole escape from “lukewarmness” was not a single, instantaneous event. It has been a journey—one where I am learning more and more every day about what it means to surrender my life to God. So far, I’ve discovered that surrender includes letting God lead me, and trusting His ways over my own. Unlike my approach to life in the past, I’m learning that I don’t need to know exactly how things are going to play out before taking the first step, before moving forward, or before making a decision—but can trust Him to lead me each step of the way.

One thing that stood out to me about my escape from lukewarmness is that I had nothing to do with it. I didn’t see it coming. But what I did have control over was how I was going to respond to what God was teaching me about being lukewarm. Was I going to fight with God on how He was trying to change me or was I going to accept it? I thank God that I had the courage to accept it.

I used to wish my brain injury had never happened, but over time, I have learned to focus on how God used it to bring about really positive things . . . like saving me from my lukewarmness. I wish there could have been another way, but I’m learning to not question God’s perfect plan, and instead thank Him for the good He brings out of negative situations (Romans 8:28).

I’m not sure where you are right now or if any of what I said about being “lukewarm” resonated with you. But if you were able to relate to my story, I hope you know that God loves you, and desires for you to live a life surrendered to Him too.

I’ve Arrived. Now What?

It’s been a year since I graduated college, and so much has happened already! I’ve been blessed with a fun and challenging job in my field of study. I live at a wonderful house with two friends. My life is overflowing with healthy, exciting, good things—most people would say that I’ve “arrived”.

But some days, I’m ashamed to admit that I still struggle with discontentment. Despite all the good things that fill my life, there are moments when it’s just not enough and these thoughts fill my mind: Am I so greedy that all of these blessings can’t fulfill me? What’s missing from my life? And the worst question: Where am I going?

Without a clear goal to strive towards, my life now seems stagnant instead of stable. There are so many possible paths for my life, but now that I’ve finished college and chosen a career and a city to live in, I wonder if I’ve made the right choices. The trajectory of my life seems to be heading somewhere pretty mundane—a normal, middle-class existence in America. Anxiously, I wonder if I was meant to be doing something more extraordinary or important or. . . meaningful?

The writer of Ecclesiastes faced a similar situation. Even though he had wisdom, status, wealth, and influence, he still felt at times that “everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).

So what should we do when, like me, we’ve “arrived”, and find ourselves feeling empty?

 

1. Go back to our first love

I saw a commercial recently that proclaimed, “Experiences are the true riches in life.” I love experiences. I enjoy travel, concerts, and new activities. But some of the most wise and godly people I know collect very few experiences—yet their lives are still rich. They have learned that the true riches of life are found in the person named Jesus.

“Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you,” exclaims the psalmist. “I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods. . . I cling to you” (Psalm 63:3-8, emphasis added).

When I feel anxious, it always comforts me to read my Bible, especially the Psalms, where the authors cry out with raw joy and pain. Through scripture, God tells us a story of mankind’s fall and redemption that is so grand and beautiful that it puts all of our worldly experiences to shame.

Our experiences may be good, but in the end the dissatisfaction that we feel with these experiences points us to the best—the God who created them. It is He who gives meaning to all we do. And when we are grounded in His story, we do not need to fill our time chasing experiences.

 

2. Give up the driver’s seat

Part of my anxiety during this period of stability is due to thinking that maybe I should be moving on to something better instead of staying put. Most of my college friends are getting jobs in other cities and moving away. Some are going overseas to be missionaries, or starting families of their own. Perhaps I should be seeking a new job, house, or dream?

I am in control of my life, which means I can steer it in the wrong direction. What if I’m missing something by staying here?

But these anxious thoughts are easily quieted when I remember that I’m not actually in control. We all have the power to make decisions, but the Christian’s challenge is to release that control. Let God determine where you are going—He should be in the driver’s seat!

I need to surrender my life to God by confessing that I can’t do this on my own. I need to regularly choose to dwell on God’s promises instead of my fears. Surrendering to God does not make me feel powerless. Instead, it brings immense comfort. If God is in control—not me—then all I need to do is listen to His voice and follow His direction.

Psalm 37:23 reminds us that, “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him.” If I’m supposed to move, or if I’m supposed to stay, God will let me know. That doesn’t mean He will always make it clear when I want Him to. I remember how long I agonized over the decision of where to attend college; I was angry with God for not being more clear. But at just the right time, God helped me see what made one school a better fit than the other, and I had such peace about the decision. He made my steps firm.

 

3. Relax and enjoy the view

There’s a scene in the movie The Shack (2017) where the main character Mack is walking with God through a gently rolling meadow dotted with trees. The sun is setting and the landscape is peaceful and beautiful.

Mack has been walking alongside God for a while, and it’s unclear if they’re nearing the final destination. He’s feeling a little anxious and a little uncertain. “Is someone going to tell me where we’re going?” Mack asks.

“Look around, Mack,” God says in answer, gesturing to the beautiful landscape. “Don’t forget to enjoy the journey.”

Those are powerful words. It’s as if God was saying, Can you simply enjoy each step of the journey with Me? That is very difficult for me to do. I like control, knowledge, and preparation. I want a complete view of the map before we start the trip. But that’s not usually how God works. He asks us to trust Him for every step.

I’ve learned it’s easier to find joy in the beautiful things of this life when I trust God for the final destination. When I do so, the blessings that I mentioned earlier—a great job, a good home, kind friends—come fully alive. I feel free to cherish them for this season of life, instead of feeling anxious about what changes the next season might bring.

 

So when I’m feeling anxious or restless, I remind myself to stop, look around, and enjoy the journey. Even the author of Ecclesiastes recognized that, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). There is a time to move forward, and there is a time to remain right where we are. Let’s go back to our first love, give up the driver’s seat, and enjoy the view for however long it lasts.

Confessions of a Recovering Feminist

Photo By Tiffany Rogers, USA

Written By Tiffany Rogers, USA

Hi, my name is Tiffany and I’m a recovering feminist.

My interest in feminism started in college, where I saw many girls studying there only for the coveted “MRS degree”. For the uninitiated, this refers to a girl who attends college just to find and marry a well-educated husband with a bright future. There are even self-help articles and a list of schools to find such husbands made available for girls online. To me, it seemed as if these girls were attempting to find their worth in whom they might marry, instead of whom they might become.

In my pride and arrogance, I pitied those girls. I didn’t want to be like them; I didn’t want my identity as a woman to be found in my identity as a wife. I wanted to be distinct and recognized for what I could do—regardless of what my last name might be someday.

As a Christian, however, I felt like I was in the minority for having this opinion. The Christians around me seemed to believe that women served best as “helpers,” and I refused to accept that idea. I couldn’t bear the thought of marrying someone who would be the ultimate decision-maker for our lives—and of my life. Why should I be the submissive counterpart just because I was a woman? Why should I be seen as less just because of my gender? I felt compelled to stand up against this notion.

Most of the fighting happened in my own heart and mind, however. I wasn’t a feminist by practice, just by belief. With my ideals, I was determined in my heart to fight for equality and for my rights, but I never attended any rallies, marches or forums to discuss the issues. I simply made a decision to never end up in a situation where I was being stripped of my equality because of my gender, within marriage or otherwise.

One day, as I was mulling over these thoughts and trying to figure out the desired outcome of my feminism, I started to think: What was I really fighting and rooting for? Well, it was simple: I wanted equality. I wanted men and women to be viewed and treated the same. I wanted to stop hearing Christians say that women are to “submit”.

But then a question that I had never considered before flashed across the screen of my mind: “Do you care about your identity as a woman more than you care about your identity in Christ?”

Suddenly, I felt like I was being presented with two platters. On one was my feminism: my fight for equality, my standing up on behalf of my gender, my pride, and how emotionally and mentally invested I was in the cause. On the other was my knowledge of who I am in Christ, and my cross.

In an instant, I was overcome. Jesus told us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). If God was asking me to humble myself and lay down the fights and desires I craved to carry in my feminism, could I do it for Him? Would I?

In that moment, I decided I cared more about God than I did my feminism. And even if He didn’t see men and women as equals, I would still care more about loving Him, serving Him and honoring Him with my life than I would about crying out for equal treatment. My love for Him trumps my desire to be seen as equal to a man.

The truth is, God does see men and women as equals. Galatians 3:28 says: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” All believers, whether men or women, Jew or Gentile, have the same relationship with God. He does not discriminate against any of us.

That said, I still believe it’s important to validate women and fight for rights not yet extended to us. There are women all over the world who are still being sold into slavery, abused, and disenfranchised. God calls us to stand up and fight for all people who are marginalized and oppressed.

So now I am a recovering feminist, because I have a much healthier understanding of the word “submission” and what that actually looks like in a Christian marriage. I’m a recovering feminist because before I dare cry out to be given rights I feel I deserve and treatment I believe is merited, I desire first to cry out to God Almighty. I’m a recovering feminist because this is where I spend my time as a Christian woman—not on my feet in demand for my rights, but on my knees in humility before God.

 

This article was originally published on the writer’s blog here. This version has been edited by YMI.

The Compulsory Queue

Title: The Compulsory Queue
Materials: Illustration
Description: 
In life, sometimes it feels like we are standing in a line. We move along the line — step by step — until we reach our journey’s end… and along the way, we collect things — memories, relationships, possessions, achievements, etc… These worldly treasures pile up over time and can cause us to get caught up in the hustle for more. We pile one thing on top of another as if we have to scramble to fill up an empty warehouse.

However, when we reach the end of the line — the end of our life — what worth do these worldly treasures hold? Whatever we have stored up here on earth will all be left behind. Everything from our hands will disappear but the treasures stored in our hearts will remain. What we store in our heart is our true treasure.

What are the kinds of treasures that God calls us to store up in heaven?

 

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