Be Super Enthusiastic

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.

Be Strong

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 Strong:

In 1984, my husband, John, felt the call to full-time mission work. The Lord called our entire family – not just John – however, at the time I was frightened by the idea of uprooting our family of four to move overseas. This decision would be wrought with challenges: leaving the culture we knew, people we loved, and comfortable life of which we'd accustomed.

I pushed back.

The Lord continued to mold my heart and not long after we began training with the International Mission Board before being assigned to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Upon arrival in Campinas, Sao Palo, John and I enrolled in a language school for one year of Portuguese classes to begin acclimation into Brazilian culture. I was amazed how quickly our two children, Joy (4) & John John (2), acquired the language as I muddled through each sentence.

One day in particular, I was having a difficult time communicating with a store clerk. I turned to our daughter, Joy, and asked for the translation. After she told me, I turned back to the cashier and repeated what Joy had said. The cashier gave me a confused look so I turned back to Joy, thinking I had misheard. I asked my daughter to repeat the Portuguese word. We went through this cycle a few times before I turned back to Joy and found her laughing – she had purposely made up a word knowing I would trust and repeat whatever she said.

I quickly hurried from the store in frustration, barely holding back tears until I burst through the door of our apartment. Failure to learn the Portuguese language loomed over my head, a constant reminder of my inability to connect with the Brazilian people…the very reason we were in Brazil. Yet in my weakness, my need for His strength became apparent.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul reminds the people of Corinth the Lord’s grace is sufficient to carry us through times of weakness. In fact, our weakness is often the conduit through which His strength is recognized. As I cried out to Him on the floor of our bedroom, the realization of my human weakness revealed how desperately I needed strength apart from my own.

John, the children, and I lived in Brazil another 10 years after that moment of defeat. While the journey to learning Portuguese was never easy, the Lord’s strength sustained me. I am now fluent (albeit a little rusty) in Portuguese and God used my perseverance to reach the people of Brazil with the Message of Jesus Christ.

Where are you weak? Be strong. Not relying on your personal strength to strong-arm your way through life, but relying on the knowledge when your strength gives way He will be there to lift you up. You can be strong when you feel weak and weary because you belong to Christ.

What about when the unexpected storms arise? When it isn’t a matter of strength or perseverance but foundation, who can you be when all around you feels shaken? There is a second characteristic you can cling to… 

Be Steady

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 STEADY:

My mother, Jeannette McNeil Cathy, lived a life of humble service to the Lord. Raised by a single-mother in Atlanta, GA, my mom gave her life to Christ at the young age of five. Though she never knew her earthly father, she would often talk about her perfect Father – her Heavenly Father. This intimate relationship with the Lord would become her solid foundation throughout life’s journey.

When my father, S. Truett Cathy, was eight, my parent’s paths briefly crossed. Years later they would be reconnected, fall in love, and start a family in the suburbs of Atlanta. My dad often said mother deserved the most recognition! She was an accomplished dancer, musician, soloist and, in her later years, an oil painter. She attended seminary, raised three children, hosted Chick-fil-A staff and friends in their home, and all while supporting her husband’s business endeavors. Dad would say all he ever did was put a piece of chicken between two buns.

Mother was the rock of our family. She often reminded my brothers and I we could be confident in who we are because we know whose we are. We memorized Bible verses, attended church, and said our prayers like many children, but I believe my mother’s example is what encouraged my own personal relationship with the Lord.

Often mother would move around the house in audible conversation with her Heavenly Father. Like many people, she would often lose items – especially her car keys – yet I remember her saying, “Lord, you obviously have another plan. I’ll find them when you’re ready.” He truly was her dearest friend, closest confidant, sustainer, healer, and Father. It was this relationship which fostered a solid foundation through any storm our family has endured. Isaiah 54:10-11 says,

 

"For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,’ Says the LORD who has compassion on you. ‘O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, Behold, I will set your stones in antimony, And your foundations I will lay in sapphires.’”

As someone who has placed their trust and faith in Christ, we are promised His enduring love and peace will be constant. Notice the Lord says mountains and earthquakes and storms may come – we are not promised smooth sailing - yet He sees and has compassion. You can stand steady on His promises. Similarly, Colossians 3:2-3 says,

 

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For…your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

We find stability in the promises of God when we turn our focus on Him to remain steady. When reading this verse, I often think of a tightrope walker. Contrary to the natural impulse to look down and focus on the task at hand, the cardinal tightrope rule is to look ahead. Focusing not on what is present (balancing on a rope) but on a singular, steady object up ahead to maintain one’s balance.

My mother was an incredible spiritual tightrope walker. Seeking the Lord was her daily focus regardless the cares or concerns facing her day. She was a steady example to our family because her gaze was intently focused on an unchanging God. While I mourn her loss here on earth, I celebrate knowing she is now in constant relationship with her Heavenly Father.

Where do you feel unbalanced and unsteady? Could it be your focus has been diverted from God’s unwavering covenant to lift your head? Remind yourself of His promises. Allow them to re-center your balance so you might move forward confident in who you are because you know whose you are.

However, what if you feel steady in the promises of Christ and are leaning into His strength for endurance but you lack passion? When it isn’t a matter of standing strong on the promises of God, who can you BE when everything around you looks hopelessly negative? There is a third characteristic you can cling to…