Often I find myself focusing on who I cannot be. There are frequently ideas or dreams I envision yet when faced with reality realize they are unattainable. While recognizing what you are unable to achieve is necessary, it often removes our focus from what is most important – who we can be.
If you are a Christ follower, regardless of who you are, I believe there are three traits you already possess which overshadow those times of defeat. These characteristics are who you are because you know whose you are.
BE SUPER ENTHUSIASTIC:
One of the greatest blessings my parents gave me as a child was the opportunity to attend camp with my brothers each summer. It was there I made lifelong connections, learned about the character of God, and met my lifelong mentor, Miss Johnnie Armstrong.
When I was a camper, Miss Johnnie served as the program director and later the camp director arranging everything from summer sport activities to spiritual connections. I remember as a young woman having a deep respect for her leadership but even more so admiring her contagious joy! She is incredibly spunky; often speaking her mind with a quip and twinkle in her eye.
The most impactful memory I have of Miss Johnnie is a lesson she gave one misty summer morning using the surrounding mountains as illustrations. Motioning around, she asked if anyone in our group doubted the majestic mountains existed even though we couldn’t see them through the fog. No camper, of course, raised her hand. Miss Johnnie proceeded to explain our belief in God is similar. God is still as present and powerful even when we find life has limited our view of Him.
We can walk in joy with full reliance on the Lord’s promises.
Miss Johnnie is full of great wisdom! Apart from her 33 summers at camp, she has served over 62 years on faculty with Blue Mountain College, her alma mater. Until recently, she taught 8 classes a semester (she is now down to 5) and attends most sporting events to cheer on her beloved Toppers!
Miss Johnnie not only serves, she serves enthusiastically. Having never married, her entire life has been devoted to those the Lord allows to cross her path. Even at the age of 85, her enthusiasm to use every hour of every day to the glory of God is inspirational. If you had the opportunity to speak with her, she would undoubtedly share how she is more blessed than anyone who has ever walked the earth. This is the power of being super enthusiastic!
Like every person, Miss Johnnie has faced difficult circumstances, challenges, and defeat. The mountain of aging alone would seem to most the opposite of blessing. But Miss Johnnie has chosen humble acceptance that the Lord has her best interest at heart. She understands His perfect love underlies every situation she encounters along the way –that He will use each for her good according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). Thus, she can look to the future enthusiastically in anticipation of all God has planned.
Super enthusiastic people don’t coast through mediocre, day-in-and-day-out life. Their purpose is fueled by a passion to grasp the character building lessons the Lord provides. In addition, they seek to encourage and motivate others to attain a lifestyle of enthusiasm despite circumstantial appearance.
Where are you feeling defeated? Be super enthusiastic. Not refusing to acknowledge life’s trials, but rejoicing in the faithfulness of God throughout our lifetime. We have learned He is our strength and firm foundation, which alters our response to everyday circumstances and earth shaking experiences. We have the ability to choose joy!
Paul wrote in his letter to the church at Thessalonica,
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Rejoicing always, praying continually, and giving thanks in every circumstance are not natural human reactions. These are the response of one who resides in Christ; someone who is able to Be Strong, Be Steady, and Be Steady through direct connection to our Father.