Choosing Joy, Choosing to Overcome

Carl Larsson

'He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. Revelation 3:21

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." Theodore Roosevelt

I am currently teaching three women's Bible studies in my home, that encompasses well over 100 women. Stories told by these precious ones reveals a multitude of challenges and difficulties--autistic children, single parenthood, cancer, financial problems, marriage problems, exhaustion, anger, depression--the list goes on.

Jesus said, "In this world, you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world."

With that in mind, we must understand that this is the fallen place, the place of spiritual battle as evidenced in the different stories of the women in my Bible studies. As I have said before, heroes are made in times of battle. Yet, each of our lives will tell a story. Each of us has been granted a portion from God--our own circumstances, obstacles, challenges, in which we are the only ones who can choose to be faithful and courageous.  No one else gets our story. We are not allowed to choose someone else's story.

However, I see that often the circumstances, the giants of our lives, can bring fear, weariness, defeat.

But godly character comes into play when we determine to make a choice to be an over-comer--one who will turn towards every obstacle of life with a heart of faith.  We have the choice and opportunity to accept our own "portion" with faith and fortitude that says, "By God's grace, I will live this life, this moment today, with courage, strength, grace and joy. God is my strength. God is with me. God will guide me and God will leave me through."

Or, we can choose to capitulate to fear, bitterness, an unforgiving attitude, lack of acceptance, or any other attitude that we allow to rule our heart that leads us to give up our ideals.

If we want to pass on faith to our children, a real, vibrant, strong faith, then in our trials, we must exhibit to them faith that practices walking with God, persevering, holding fast to convictions, even when they don't seem to matter.

Faith must believe that He is--that He is with us, that He is good, that He is in control, that He will reward us in His time and in His way.

The decisions we make when no one else is looking, will determine the ultimate outcome of our character and the ability to become leaders or women of influence. I have learned over the years that is ti not in some distant future time, when all of my trials are gone, that I will be able to be more spiritual. It is this day, this moment, where I must gird up strength and choose to obey.

There are brave, courageous women in my midst, who against formidable odds, have held fast to Jesus and their stories are breath-taking and encouraging and cause me to want to trust Jesus more for my own problems.

However, there are also in my midst, whiners--women who nurture the idea that they are being "picked on" by God, that somehow He has given them more than they can take, that they are a victim of life.This victim mentality will cause havoc for the rest of their lives, as women who do not trust God and choose to believe in His goodness will be left to battles of soul the rest of their lives. I see and hear from sweet women, who have become victims because they have not had the heart to accept life as God has given it--they have practiced complaining and shaking their fists at heaven so long that it has become a habit and robbed them of the ability to have joy or to see God at work. The eyes of our heart and the obedient choices we make when we are squeezed by life will determine the kind of women we become.

Many seasons of our lives will be quite difficult and filled with tears, deep darkness and sadness--this is a part of scripture, "In this world we have tribulation." Jesus was crucified and has not asked us to bear anything He has not already born. Yet, what we do with the giants in the land, how we choose to walk forward in the midst of these trials will determine our testimony.

Overcoming, by the blood of the lamb, is a theme in Revelation. Through reading and studying these passages, I have found courage and inspiration to practice being an over-comer. Over the past years, I have seen that I have to choose to worship Him right where I am by obeying Him in the moment of each challenge He brings my way. This obstacle or test along my journey will teach me something I need to learn about life. This moment I am writing my story of faith. This day, He will give me the strength to overcome.

It has been the very obstacles in my life that have deepened my compassion for others, that have made me more humble and shown me my limitations, that has expanded my reach in ministry, because of understanding other's struggles more personally from having gone through them myself.

But I strategically named this blog, "I take joy"--I choose joy today, because He is my song, He is my salvation, He is my redeemer and He has overcome before me. May He grant each of us the faith to be over-comers today, right where we are, with precious eyes of children and peers looking on, so that we may teach the patterns of walking with God, and waiting for His miracles to others who need hope. May God give you strength, in whatever you are facing. May we tell stories of His miracles and provisions in heaven as we celebrate what He was willing to accomplish through us in our life-time.

Off to face my own obstacles with His companionship every step of my day.