Friday, January 2, 2009

Overcoming in 2009

I have heard from so many people over the holidays who have spoken about the struggles they are going through. The cool thing about a new year is that we can wipe the slate clean and begin again. I hope all of you will take the advice of the apostle Paul who wrote in Philippians - if you will allow me to paraphrase - I may not be all I should be yet, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to the things which are ahead, I press on with my eyes on the goal.

Sometimes I get so amazed at how we human beings tend to become so easily discouraged, and yet I know that it can be true of all of us at times. Yet we are told in Scripture that in due season, we will reap if we faint not (Galatians 6:9). I want to encourage each and every one of you who may be struggling that it is not a sin to struggle. The struggle only becomes sin when we give in to the temptation. It’s not a sin to struggle and it’s not a sin to be tempted – that is part of the process of us growing and being overcomers in Christ. If there is not anything for us to overcome, then how can we become an overcomer? We are told to grow strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Much like a person who continually lifts weights until their strength increases greatly, we likewise, as we exercise our faith through difficult times, grow strong in the Spirit and are able to withstand the evil one and anything he may throw at us.

I encourage you to let your focus be on being strong in the Lord and in the power of His might rather than trying to combat temptation. I have found that when I focus on Christ and growing in Him, the temptations automatically fall away as a byproduct of that focus. I hope this is helpful to you. So many times, it seems like we never get the breakthrough and are tempted to give up. Let me give you one example that comes to mind just in the last couple of days…

For those of you who have listened to me very much or know me, you know that I am a huge sports fan. Specifically, I have been a Vanderbilt football fan for years and years, even since I was a little girl. Yes, I am completely familiar with the fact that the Vanderbilt Commodores have not been to a bowl game since 1982. For those of you who are not good at math, let me enlighten you – that is 26 years! Can you imagine working hard for something for 26 straight years before you see the breakthrough? The goal of Vanderbilt football for the last 26 years has been to have a winning season and make it to a bowl game. I don’t know about you, but I have never had to wait 26 years for a breakthrough. Well guess what?? Not only did Vanderbilt make it to a bowl game, they actually won the bowl game!! Yes!!! On New Year’s Eve Day, the Vanderbilt Commodores managed to beat Boston College, an ACC power house. One commentator predicted earlier that day before the game began that Vanderbilt would lose by at least 30 points. This guy is supposed to be an expert, right? It reminds me of all the naysayers in the world who say you can’t overcome and eating disorder, you can’t overcome an addiction, you can’t overcome depression, you can’t overcome sexual abuse, you can’t overcome this, and you can’t overcome that. Not a single “expert” would have believed that Vanderbilt would even be in a bowl game, much less win one.

Yet, we are talking about spiritual matters, and we actually have the name of Jesus, which is above every name that can be named. This may seem like a silly example, but I hope it will serve as a reminder to all of us that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us and there is nothing we cannot achieve if we simply decide not to faint or lose heart. Start your year afresh and anew, forgetting all that is behind and reaching forth to all that is ahead. Keep your eyes on Christ and walk the walk with His strength and power. Remember, it is not by our might and not by our power, but by His strength!!


Moosh78 said...

thanks for posting this, nancy! i have been told for many years (and even recently) that i will never overcome my issues. thank you for reminding me that it IS possible and that i CAN be victorious!!!

happy new year! i'm praying for you, all the staff in all the homes/in the corporate office, the girls IN the program, and all the girls on the waiting list.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your encouragement! You are truly a special blessing! I just know that God has AWESOME things in store for you during the coming year!

Please feel free to check out my blog sometime as well. I have a blog advertising my beaded jewelry that I make but I have an encouraging word for 2009 on there as well.

Love & Blessings, Heidi

Britney said...

I totally agree about needing to set our focus on knowing and loving God this new year. Often it is easy to get in the trap of living life as a constant exhausting battle- like we are searching for some end all/fix all answer to the struggles of life-- but like Nancy said, when we fix our hearts on Jesus and simply delighting in Him, we realize that the battle isn't ours, and in the midst of life's pain and struggles we are able to experience His joy and peace.

Ello said...

thank you - Nancy ... for reminding us and me that life goes on because of the grace of God despite the failures and many times we fall... as a mercy grad i know that real life isnt easy but i know that because of the grace of God i'm equipped to face anything that comes my way... Thank you for being such a catalyst for the mercy and grace of our heavenly father. I'm eternally greatful.