Reaching a goal is always something to be thankful for

It took me 50 years but I finally made it- today is the day!

Actually, today is the last day- of working!

Starting tomorrow (although it is technically a “Floater Day” for me) I will be among the ranks of those that receive a payment from the United States government for doing little more than breathing.

I have changed careers often during my lifetime, and now that I change career paths one last time, from an IT career to a Nothing career, I am thankful to God for my having made it to here. He protected my life all these years, He kept me working, He made sure that our house is paid for (a super-blessing!) and He has blessed me with a wonderful wife who, despite the stereotypical joke about ending up having to kill me because I am going to be around her all day, I really, REALLY look forward to spending all my time with her because, when all is said and done, we honestly like being with each other.

And it is ALL because God has blessed us, so much more than I could even start to thank Him for. If I never received another blessing for the rest of my life, and lived as old as Methuselah did, I would still have received more blessings than I could ever count.

What are you looking forward to? What plans, what designs for your life do you have that you have’t yet reached? Whatever they are, God is there to help you get to them.

And if you are already there, be thankful to God for making it to the goal. If you are still working towards a goal, keep at it faithfully expecting and asking God to work with you. We are told in Philippians 3:14, and in 1 Corinthians 8, and even as far back in the Bible as Proverbs 4:25 (which is most likely where Shaul/Paul first learned this to repeat in his epistles to the new Believers) we should always keep our eyes on the prize and strive forward to reach the goal. That goal is, of course, living as God wants us to live to attain (and maintain) salvation. That’s an even better goal than retirement.

So be thankful. Be thankful for when things happen as you expect, and be thankful for when things blow-up in your face, because it is very likely that things are going “south” because you are getting off the path you need to be on. Always look for the blessing in the Tsouris, because all God wants to do is bless us, and when we feel we are under a curse it is almost always because we are the ones walking out from under God’s covering. When we walk with Him, He protects us from the world. Everyone eventually strays out from under God’s covering, and when we do we have problems; when we recognize that as the reason for the problems, then we can get back in line with God, and receive blessings. Do you see how that works? When bad things are happening, don’t blame Satan, and don’t blame God, just look at it positively and realize that somewhere you must have taken a wrong step. That’s all it is, and when you review your steps, you will see where you need to change course to get back on the path of righteousness again.

Look- sometimes it is Satan attacking you, sometimes it is God testing (and refining) you, but it is always something you can overcome and see as a blessing to strengthen you during your walk with God.

I am planning for many things during retirement, and I am still trusting in God to help me get those things done. I pray that He will continue to bless us both (Donna and I) with health and strength to do the things we want to do together, for a long, long time. I pray he keeps us financially stable, and that we grow even more faithful to Him.

I know what I plan to do, I have no idea what I will end up doing (that’s life, right?) but I will continue to work towards what I want to do, make the best of what I am doing, and always be watchful for missteps that take me off the path God wants me to be on.

It’s really pretty simple to stay in God’s will, when you think of it this way: when things are going well, you are doing right, and when things go wrong, retrace your steps.

It’s like spitting on a boat: if you’re facing to the stern, you stay dry, and if you spit towards the bow,  well … you will immediately know that you need to turn from your current direction.


Without Tsouris we wouldn’t know joy

As lousy a situation as it is, the absence of tsouris (troubles) in our lives results in the absence of joy.

Joy is what we feel when we are relieved of stress, there are no problems, no “issues” to overcome…complete relaxation, physical, mental and spiritual.

But if we didn’t know about stress, if we never had “issues” to worry about and overcome, and if we never were sad, downtrodden, upset or stressed-out, then how would we be able to feel joy? It wouldn’t be anything other than the same old, same old. And even joy can be boring and useless if that’s all there is.

When a woman gives birth, the pains are remarkable (so I’ve heard- not being able to tell you from experience, of course) and the total joy after, when the baby has come out, is just as overwhelming. Not just because of the birth of your child, but because there is no more pain. The cessation of pain is, in and of itself, a joyful feeling.

We go through the fire to remove the slag, and we must be melted down to our basic elements for that to happen. We must be destroyed, so that we can congeal into a more pure form of ourselves. This is what Tsouris is all about- getting rid of the dross so that the purity can be realized. We need to call on the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) during these times to help us die to self so that God can more completely live in us.

The problem is, despite how wonderful the result, going through the process sucks! It sucks in every way: painfully, emotionally, physically, spiritually- every bad “ly” you can think of happens to us when going through the tsouris of life. And there isn’t much to do about it- you can’t run away from it, you can’t avoid it, and you have to wait until it runs it’s course. You are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and calling out to God may not help because God may be behind it.

Not always. Remember, we live in a cursed world, and sometimes that means having to deal with it. God isn’t always to blame. In fact, my personal opinion from reading about God all these years, is that He isn’t so petty as to cause your car to break down if you sinned, or the ladder to fall if you are working on the Sabbath, or have you suffer through “Montezuma’s Revenge” because you ate a ham sandwich for lunch when you knew you shouldn’t have. Maybe, sometimes, little things will happen that (as we look back later) we can see led us to something that was a Godly blessing or prevented us from tsouris, and yes- maybe, just maybe, God did make sure that little thing happened to protect us. Maybe the car did break down so that we didn’t get stuck in that 10 car pile-up on Interstate 95 that we would have been in. But, then again, maybe it just happened.

I don’t drive myself crazy (which, in my case, is a very short ride) with thinking about these things. God is very busy running the Universe, and although I know He happily makes time to hear my prayers, He is multi-tasking all the time. And I just don’t see Him going out of His way to cause something small to happen to me as a punishment for a sin. If that was true, at the rate I sin, He would have a full-time job.

Tsouris sucks- there’s no doubt about it. The only way to get through it is to understand it. By that I mean we need to remember we live in a cursed world, that we are separated from it, that the enemy does make time to do many, small annoying things to get us to curse the world and to curse God, and the enemy runs the world. He wasn’t thrown down to hell, but to the Earth, and he is the Prince of the Air (Ephesians 2:2.) What goes through the air? TV, radio, advertising, cell phone usage, Internet-all of these are controlled by the enemy, by definition of his kingdom, and we are bombarded by it constantly, day after day, year after year, until we think that, just like Mick Jagger says in that famous song, “He can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke the same cigarette as me!”  We compare ourselves to others instead of to what God says we should be. And often it seems, just like the song says, we can’t get no satisfaction.

But you can get satisfaction! The satisfaction of knowing that the tsouris is temporary and the joy tsouris allows us to feel will be eternal! I wrote a blog about SWISHSo What, I‘m Saved, Halleluyah! We need to remember not just that tsouris happens, but that it makes us better and that it is part of being alive. And more than that, we need to remember that the pain we feel now will allow us to feel the total and pure joy of salvation when that time comes.

Shaul tells us in Philippians 3:14:

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have laid hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Messiah Yeshua.”

We need to keep our gaze focused not on what is behind, or even what is here now, but on what is coming. That is how we get through tsouris- not concerning ourselves with what is happening as much as looking forward to when it is over. Things always seem so far away when we wait for them, and when we look back it all seems to have happened so quickly. Keep focused on the future, remind yourself that this is going to be over and think about the joy you will have when that happens.

We need to make our own time machine, but one that only works in one direction- the future. When in the midst of tsouris, get into your time machine and travel to the future; don’t look back, just wait there. Before you know it, the present will be with you in the future and the tsouris will be over.

When the tsouris of life is over, your joy in salvation will be complete! That is a promise from God.

Keep that in mind when you feel down and you will be uplifted.