I asked the intelligent, funny, and talented author/speaker, Tabitha Caplinger, to write a post to go along with my theme of grace and imperfection.
She nailed it.
After you read her post, go check out her books!
I just spent the weekend with 30 teenagers at a retreat. Can I be really honest? I kind of didn’t want to go.
Not because of the teenagers mind you, but, it was going to be cold, I was going to be away from my kids, and I knew I would be sleep deprived. Add to that the great raccoon/dog fight that had occurred the morning before the trip causing me to make an emergency run to the vet with two dogs and a four year old, by myself. I’m not even going to mention the fact that I have a book releasing in like 7 days. (That was me mentioning it though wasn’t it? Oh well, you can forgive me.)
The point is I was tired before the weekend even began and part of me wanted to just stay home, curl up in a blanket and binge watch.
I find myself having those days more and more. Whether it’s from my mile-long to-do list or a newsfeed of political divisiveness, or crazy raccoons, I have too many days where I just want to sit down, or lie down.
I’m not saying I want to quit completely, I just want to ride the pine for a little while ya know? Sit on the sidelines and watch the game while I take a breather. Ever felt that way?
Well, God has a sense of humor, so while I was wanting to sit on the sidelines He was having me open our Winter Youth Retreat by preaching to those 30 teenagers about playing to the whistle.
Life can be hard. It can be tiring. Maybe your situation is more dire than mine. Maybe your struggle is much more serious than a raccoon. Maybe it just feels like it is. In the midst of the stress you hear that voice saying, “It’s okay. Just sit down for a little bit. Relax for a few minutes.”
Don’t listen to that voice.
This isn’t about resting. This isn’t about relaxing our bodies. This is about relaxing our spirits. This is about sitting on the sidelines when we should be playing to the whistle.
While our minds and bodies do need rest, too often our spirits are what get put to sleep. In an effort to find some comfort in our situations we get too comfortable and remove ourselves from the things God wants us to be doing. We start to coast in our relationship with God.
This is dangerous.
I can hear you now. “But I love God, I go to church. I’m not doing anything wrong.” The problem is we can be doing nothing wrong and still be doing nothing right.
Of course you love Jesus, and He loves you, a lot. This isn’t really about you. You can’t earn God’s love, you can’t do enough things to make Him love you more. But when we stop doing the work of the Gospel, the work of the high-calling to which we have been called, the world doesn’t get to see God’s love for them.
God doesn’t need you to DO so that He will love you more. We DO so that others will see Him.
We don’t always get this, but our enemy does. So he whispers again, “Just sit down. You go to church, you love Jesus, that is enough, relax for a while.”
He’s devious and he’s smart because he knows he doesn’t need to get you to stop believing in Jesus. He doesn’t need you to walk away, he just needs you to sit down. He doesn’t care if you are a Christian as long as you are a lazy one. He doesn’t need to steal your faith as long as he can steal your impact.
Life is hard. I know I said that already, but it bares repeating. Following Jesus won’t make it easier. Really, following Jesus sometimes makes it more difficult. But we can’t coast, we can’t sit, we can’t give in to that voice that says just wait here for a little while. We have to play to the whistle.
God is trying to get you somewhere. He is building character in you. He wants to use your life to influence and impact those who don’t yet know Him, those who are struggling around you. He needs you to stay in the game.
“But I can’t. I need a break from it all. I’m too tired.”
Yes, you can! His grace is sufficient. In fact, it works even better when you are weak, tired, ready to give up. Because in those moments, when you want to sit on the sidelines, He becomes your strength and helps you keep moving forward. Instead of sitting, stand up and praise Him. Instead of coasting, dig deeper into His Word. Instead of giving up, get on your knees.
I went on that retreat. I was right. It was cold, I got very little sleep and I really missed my kids. It was also more than worth it. I saw students wrestle with God well after the altar call was over. I watched kids stand up in unity. I witnessed the presence of God stir something in our youth ministry.
When you play to the whistle you won’t always be so lucky to see the impact of your perseverance, but I promise you it is there.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 NIV
Tabitha Caplinger is a wife, mom, youth pastor and professed tv addict. It’s seriously a problem, but she doesn’t plan on getting help anytime soon. Mostly because she loves the stories. She can’t help but get lost in the worlds created and feel invested in the lives of the characters. She brings that same passion for the story to her own writing. The first book in her YA trilogy, The Chronicle of the Three: Bloodline, is currently available with the second book releasing in early 2017. Aside from writing and watching tv, Tabitha can be found singing off key and dancing in the kitchen or car with her two adorably sassy daughters and awesome husband who she thinks is kind of cute.
You can find more information about Tabitha and her books at tabithacaplinger.com
You are powerful, chosen, loved & never alone.
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