Hey friend, before we jump in, I just wanted to give you a quick reminder that there is a complementary guide that you can download for free that goes with this episode. It has a few prompt questions based off this material today that will allow you to explore this topic a bit more personally for yourself. The link for the download is in the show notes. Or you can go to triciazody.com/guide.
Okay, welcome back to the podcast for episode number 91 - 3 Lessons Learned About Being A Christian
There’s something that I mentioned in last week’s episode that I want to unpack and expound on today. The lesson that I learned when grappling with my fear of not hitting my landing target if I skydived solo was this: If I did miss the target, 1) It wouldn’t be the first time someone did it, 2) someone would come looking for me and bring me back, and 3) it would give me the exact point of my ineptness as a skydiver, allowing me more on-the-ground practice in order to better maneuver myself in the air for a successful target landing the next time.
This so parallels our Christian life. Look, we already established that as Christians, we’re not always going to hit the target. Sometimes, like Paul said, we’re going to press towards the mark, but sometimes we’re going to miss it. And that “missing it” is sin. Sometimes we’re going to sin. Whether that be unintentional or flat-out on purpose. Don’t forget, lying, gossip, anger, and envy are all sins.
So, that’s the first of the three lessons learned: It wouldn’t be the first time someone did it. Christians sin. You’re a sinner. I’m a sinner. We’re going to sin. If you don’t believe that, then you’re not reading the same Bible I am. The issue is not whether or not we’re going to sin. It’s what we’re going to do about it when we do.
I remember the first time I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me in my spirit in my practical, everyday life. I was in a department store shopping the sales racks. They were crammed packed. As I pulled out one item to look at it, another one came off its hanger and fell to the floor. As I put the original item back and started to walk away, I heard the Holy Spirit say in my spirit, “Pick that up and put it back on the hanger.” Um, what? It stopped me dead in my tracks. “Pick it up.” And so I did. Whew. That was so many years ago. But now, when that happens, I don’t even wait for the conviction.
I also remember the first time it happened in the grocery store parking lot. I had a bad habit of leaving my cart just by the side of my car. It probably started when I had little kids, but it just continued on. But the Holy Spirit was instructing me to put the cart in the designated cart-return. Or, if there wasn’t one nearby, push that grocery cart back up to the front of the grocery store. I don’t even think about it now. I just hit that target every time.
So that’s it. When we sin (and leaving a top that has fallen to the floor is not a sin, by the way. You need to understand. The sin would’ve come when I didn’t do what the Holy Spirit was telling me to do outright. But when I went a little further with Him about it, He did reveal that it’s courteous and a respect for other’s property that should compel me to want to do it.) But, when we sin and we feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we have a choice to make in that moment: to obey or not. Not obeying would be the miss the target completely. In fact, it would be to choose to totally opt out of being in the game. If you likened it to darts or archery, you’re not even throwing the dart or shooting the arrow.
I love that the Apostle Paul states in Philippians 3:12 that he hasn’t already reached perfection. There’s a reason for every little jot and tittle, for every “t” that’s crossed and every “i” that’s dotted, for every written word in the Bible. It’s for our instruction today; for our correction and teaching Second Timothy 3 verses sixteen and seventeen says.
So, here’s something you must remember, you’re not alone. Let me remind you that Paul says he does what he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do what he should. There are also countless stories in the Bible of God’s children that sinned horribly, including King David, whom God called “a man after my own heart.” You’re not the first and you won’t be the last Christian to fall short and miss the mark. Again, the most important part is what you’re going to do about it. So, listen to the Holy Spirit when He convicts you, ask for forgiveness, and then obey…whatever that might look like in the situation. That’s lesson number one to understand.
The second thing I learned about solo skydiving was that if I missed the landing mark someone would come looking for me. This is such an amazing analogy for the Christian experience. Community is so important for Christians for so many reasons. But mainly because Christians are supposed to support and help one another along in their faith.
Here is a good place to pause and take a little personal assessment. What kind of friends are you surrounding yourself with? They should be friends that help you grow in your faith. Do your friends build your faith up, bringing peace and hope in the words that they speak? Or do they bring more fear and doubt and stress in your life? Are your friends the kind that will call you out on your shortcomings, your sins? Are they the kind that will encourage you in a way of living that is Biblical?
Proverbs 27:17 says that “iron sharpens iron.” What that means is that, if you’ve chosen wisely, the people you closely associate with can make your darts or arrows sharper, providing you with a level of accountability to be living in a manner that’s pleasing to God. This is where, when you’ve totally missed your target, someone’s coming to look for you. They care about you so much that they’re going to ask you about your actions and decisions. They’re going to come get you with the means to provide a way back to the target area; to set your heart and mind right; to come back into alignment with the precepts of the Bible, those things that please our Heavenly Father. This is what Christian community does, and we all need it. We all need to surround ourselves with people who have their eyes on us and are going to come get us when we’ve missed the target.
The third thing I learned about missing my target is that it would expose my areas of weakness, my ineptness, the skills that needed to be honed. It would show me exactly where I needed more practice, just as the Apostle Paul was committed to doing, allowing me for a successful target landing the next time.
Paul was looking for those spots of weakness in his spiritual walk so that he could course-correct. This is exactly what we should be doing each time we miss the target. Asking, “Why? What’s going on? Why do I keep missing it over and over? What’s causing this weakness? What’s causing me to not want to even pick up those darts anymore and try one more time? What am I believing? Or better yet, what have I quit believing? What messages am I entertaining that would lead me to believe that I’ll never get it, I’ll never even get close to acting in ways or doing things that God is asking me to. Am I listening to voices that are telling me I’m horrible at being a Christian and I should just give up?”
In First Corinthians 9 verses 24 through 27, Paul likens his spiritual practice to the training of an athlete. He says athletes are disciplined, training their bodies to do what it should do to win the prize. They don’t give up, but keep at it, honing their skills, over and over. Paul says he’s doing the same. And this is our example. In Romans 12:3 he says, “Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves.” Another translation says to take an honest assessment. He’s saying that we need to, like himself, look for our areas of weakness in our spiritual walk so that we can course-correct. And as we established previously, Paul said he wasn’t perfect, but that he’s tryingto live in a manner pleasing to God. He’s practicing his maneuvers in order to make it his own. He’s throwing the darts. Shooting the arrows. He’s going to practice and practice and practice until his approach and delivery feel as natural as breathing.
Friend, you may not hit the bullseye every time. Heck, you might miss the target altogether. But at least get in the game. Pick up those darts or pull back that bow and let the arrows fly. Know that missing the target at times is to be expected. And decide what you’re going to do about it. How are you going to respond? Find that you’ll be stronger, sharper, more on point when you’re surrounded with people who have their eyes on you and have your best interest at heart. People who will come get you when you get off course a bit. Surround yourself with sharp iron! And don’t forget to pause a time or too and take a spiritual assessment of where you are and where you find spiritual weakness. Get busy with that course correction - and practice, practice, practice. I can pretty much guarantee that if this is your game plan, you’ll be hitting that target more and more every day. I’m just sure of it!
Hey, friend, I just want to tell you straight out: I’d love to be your Life Coach and be that someone who would come looking for you and bring you back if you did miss the mark. I’d love to help you by strengthening you with tools that will ensure you get closer to the center of that target day by day.
I’ve put a link in the show notes for a free 30-minute call just so we can see if we’re a good fit to work together and show you how Life Coaching would work for you.
Also, don’t forget click the link in the show notes to get the free, downloadable guide that complements this episode.
Have a wonderful week, friends. See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life podcast.