Perspectives

A different look at every day issues.

Obstacles - Part 1

The only thing about our journey through life (upon which we can depend) is that we will face obstacles along the way. I wish I could say that there is a viable option in which we can determine both the severity of the obstacle and its duration.

Obstacles (also known as challenges, trials, tests, tribulations, etc.) are what shape and mold us into a useful part of the human race. If nobody accepted the challenge of an obstacle and simply sat down and crossed arms, nothing of value would be learned or modeled for others.

Obstacles shape us in several ways. I know . . . who wants to be shaped by the difficulties inserted into our life? Probably nobody. However, obstacles are a part of life and we must learn to capitalize on the potential personal gain one can experience through head-on confrontation with whatever seeks to block our progress.

Obstacles take many forms. They can be rejection, character assault, or even prescribed training like our armed forces utilize to harden and shape those charged with keeping us safe and free. Obstacles can also take the form of repeated detours that leave us questioning our original travel plans though life.

Here are several questions you can ask yourself when faced with an obstacle.

Questions:
What am I supposed to learn from this roadblock?
Am I on the right path?
Is my timing in God’s will? 
Is this roadblock actually a divine protection keeping me from disaster?
Have I sought God’s will for my life and did I listen when He revealed it?
Am I determined to face each obstacle with a willingness to overcome it?
Do I look at each obstacle as a sign that I’m not supposed to go that way?
Do the obstacles keep me in a continual state of defeat?


I intend to address some of these questions in Part 2. However, re-read the list above and really think about how they might represent your attitude toward obstacles. This article’s intent is to bring light on those things that may be keeping you from realizing your God-given potential.



“Living in the Moment"

During a recent trip to the east coast of Florida, my wife and I decided to take in some beach time since our hotel was close to the ocean. We relaxed as we strolled in the wet sand as the only sound was that of the crashing surf and countless sea gulls calling to each other. 

We walked down to the edge of the water and allowed the surf to lap at our ankles and then retreat to the collective body of water. The ebbing of the waves was, in itself, relaxing. We are often able to repeat this exercise in relaxation given our proximity to one of Florida’s beautiful beaches. We are truly blessed!


On this particular day, I came away with a little more than relaxation. I noticed that as long as the surf  didn’t wrap around my ankles, nothing changed. But when the surf enveloped my feet and ankles, I noticed that the sandy base beneath my feet began to erode from the water causing me to sink a little deeper into the wet sand. It didn’t take long before I had to step to the side and allow the process to start all over again. 


While I have experienced this erosion phenomenon many times during my residence in Florida, I had never really given much thought to it. Perhaps I was in a more perceptive state of mind as several thoughts came to me.

First, there are times when we just want to enjoy the moment but before long, find ourselves stuck in that which was once enjoyable but eventually become a trap. Rationalization and justification begin their predictable process only to leave us without an authentic exposure to what started the whole sensation in the first place.


Second, our lack of movement ensures an absence of new revelation. What was once enjoyable and relaxing has become a tedious process in maintaining what was lost through our stationary stance.

I believe that God wants to give us new experiences each day to keep life from lapping around our ankles and entrapping our future in a “moment” experience. He wants us to allow his mercy and grace to flow into our lives each day—not to entrap us but to free us from our propensity to live in the moment with no eye to our future. 


If the enemy of our soul can keep us from accepting new places and new adventures with the Father, he can stifle our spiritual growth.

Remember, we can live so much “in the minute” that we miss the big picture of God’s ongoing provision and revelation. 


"What You Fear the Most . . . "


Director James Cameron produced an ocean adventure epic costing 69.5 million dollars and was called, ‘The Abyss.’ In his 1989 story, a team of oceanographers worked on the ocean floor in a laboratory designed for deep-water exploration. As I recall, the movie was one of the first of its kind in which they took CGI (computer generated imagery) to the next level in entertainment. I sat mesmerized by the imagery on the screen and felt fully ‘submerged’ in its story line. In short, the story was about their encounter with a life form that emerged from a giant ocean canyon they referred to as the ‘abyss.’ 

So, to make a long (and very exciting) story short, the team member played by Ed Harris decided to risk his life in an effort to see how far down the abyss went. There were additional factors that weighed into his decision, but for brevity sake, let’s leave him there for now . . . falling deeper and deeper into the canyon.

Life is like that. We encounter abnormalities that threaten to sink us and drag us into an abyss. We might even feel helpless as we free-fall downward into what can only be our worst imaginations

Believe it or not, God designed these times to teach us to trust him more. While we rarely appreciate the experience in real time, hindsight always teaches us that God will not let us crash into something at the bottom of the abyss in which we find ourselves descending. The lesson takes place during the free-fall. It is then that we encounter the sustaining power of a father who loves us too much to treat us in a reckless manner.

Back to The Abyss. Eventually, Ed Harris hit the bottom of the abyss. There, beautiful creatures took him on board an alien spacecraft and saved his life. That’s the Cliff Notes version. What he feared the most was what saved his life.

The lessons we learn during our apparent free-fall are the lessons that will save our lives and prove that God really does know what he is doing and that he loves us more than we could ever imagine.

Remember, nothing ever happens in your life without first gaining his permission.

Jim Beaird