Have you ever been stung by a seemingly unjust reality? Every friend you have rides around without a license frequently, but the day you do you get pulled over? Or the white lie you tell to preserve someone’s feelings that ends up exploding in your face? Even something simple like you can never manage more than 2 days a week without something dramatic happening, that overdrafts your emotional bank account?
Let’s flip it over to ambition.
You want to be a teacher, and are going through the process correctly, yet other wack/unqualified people are getting those milestone positions that you qualify for. Wack music artists flood the airways, but you are hardpressed to get anybody to repost your single let alone purchase it.
Your heart is to help people with whatever your gift may be, yet the most trifling folks around you are supplied with the breaks and opportunities. Even something relatively minor like twitter- you know you’re of substance, but you can’t manage to crack 500 followers or get many retweets.
Let’s flip it into faith.
You pray. You fast. You go to service once a week AND get in the Bible on your own throughout it… Yet you’re in the recession just as much as your unbelieving coworkers. Or worse- someone you know leads an intentional double life fares better than you.
You struggle and you push far past any concept you had of limits, and still God seems to silently demand “A little more… a little more.” You take great pains and sacrifices for power to be in your faith, yet your lack – typically where you most perceive to need provision – makes you look foolish.
There are millions of other examples in each category that I have not given… some that, I’m sure, could be taken from various parts of your own life. Different instances where every tangible and/or visible stride has been made – both within reason and out – only to be met by the baffling silence of “A little more… a little more.”
Anybody ever been there? Or anywhere NEAR there? Within binocular range maybe?
I have… I am. And to be honest- I don’t fully understand it… I am only here to speak of a pervading theme recently flirting with my senses….
Principles of invisibility.
Principle #1: Endurance and perseverance have nothing to do with visible cause… they serve to strengthen invisible fortitude.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”
~Galatians 5:16,17 (NASB)
According to Biblical Scripture, the essence of this invisible fortitude lies in the power of the Spirit of God. The “visible cause” is the flesh- our human nature that has been the curse of our race since the Fall in Eden. These are two separate factions that war against one another continually. Walking by the Spirit strengthens. Walking by the flesh weakens.
Now- endurance and perseverance.
Imagine an Olympic tournament from the perspective of a track runner. Slightly cloudy, but the glare of the sun cuts a swathe through the would-be gloom. Feelings of anticipation. Nervousness. Fans, family, and friends mixed into the crowd of spectators- none of whom you desire to let down.
Muscles a bit taut, but ready. You can feel the pressure of your laces on top of your feet. Runners are strewn everywhere. And then – you and your crew. Your coach. You have flashbacks of every prior race, every practice, every social sacrifice, every healthy regimen ever undertaken… all for this moment.
You mount up… Breathing slows… Mind focuses… Eyes briefly take in the surrounding competition before merging with the track stretching out ahead. You permit that necessary surge of cockiness to course through your veins and push the nervousness away… and then-
The gun shot. You’re off.
Not a bad start. You’re keeping an amazing pace, and not too far off from the lead runner. Your breath cycles are great, and your body is responding like the well oiled machine you trained it to be. Then your track senses take over and you blank out- your body is now in automatic mode. Running… Running… Running… Seemingly on unlimited energy.
And then – just as in the flow of “real life” – your awareness comes back. You notice a slight hitch in your step. A greater strain on maintained air flow. The track that seemed mere child’s play earlier, now seems to be replaced by a non-progressive piece of eternity. Still you run. Symptoms get worse. Vision becomes vastly more tunneled- you are almost unaware of any other runners beside you. And then it happens…….
That frozen moment where you think “I can’t do this… I’m not going to make it… I’ve got nothing left.” Still- you run… fighting yourself- fighting the urge to quit and rest… Because, at the end of the day – although it is you who run – the race isn’t about you.
Enduring the fatigue and persevering through the pain – although stimulated by the race – have nothing to do with the race in and of themselves. They have to do with YOU. To strengthen YOUR fortitude. Why?
So that you DO. NOT. QUIT.
This all comes full circle with the following…
Anything that strengthens your invisible fortitude is inherently good. Anything inherently good is born of the Spirit of God. Living by the Spirit strengthens.
Principle #2: When pursuing anything worthwhile, “ouch” becomes a term of endearment.
“A ship is safe in the harbor- but that’s not what ships were made for.” ~Unknown
You know another way of phrasing that??
Ships were made to get rained on- to sail through the storm to the destin[y]ation on the other side.
Quite simply, the ambitious- the artists, the dreamers, the creators, the ones who take it upon themselves to strive for greater and thusly effect change – are built for pain.
How is this a principle of invisibility?
Intellectual/Emotional/Spiritual pain (or any combination therein) are not availed to the naked eye. So if in your process you find yourself fluent in the mono-idiomatic dialect of “ouch,” do not be taken aback. If it is worthy pain, then nine times out of ten you either won’t see it coming until the moment it happens, or you will “see” it from a long way off and know that you must eventually embrace it. To be surprised or displeased by pain is human- to be deterred by it is choice.
Let’s say that Pain simply is, and that it is measured by time. It is not caused, conjured, summoned, or in any other way triggered. It simply is. And depending on the route in life that you opt to run, you encounter different timeframes of Pain.
And God is the Clockmaster. Only He truly knows the location of the Pain that is, and its corresponding timeframe. Sometimes He does things very similarly in general areas and so we as humans, on our permanent quest for universal comprehension, group these occurrences into things called patterns.
I have found that where I err most is treating these patterns as rules.
That is probably the epitome of a no-no.
What if you constantly ran red lights, but nothing ever happened? You develop a pattern of good luck…until the one day that pattern is broken and someone turns in front of you. Or darts across the street.
A pattern can be broken at any time. Now you’re in a car accident… Applying that to life- a life full of… car accidents. Catastrophes. Explosions. Unnecessary chaos and pain. Because you treated a pattern as a rule.
In keeping with the car metaphor- run that light at the wrong time and the cops will light you up. Translation? There are consequences for infracting upon reality. The reality is, running red lights is dangerous and illegal.
The reality is, Pain is and therefore is coming. Attempting to avoid it – or worse, stopping to wallow in it – is not your right no matter HOW many times you may get away with it. Those are infractions.
Say ouch and be proud. Say ouch as you shake and cry in confusion. Say ouch and follow it by a statement of faith. Say ouch and own your timeframe of Pain.
And like the purpose driven ship sailing away from the harbor- keep going. Because the flip side of this invisible principle is- destiny. Whether small as in getting in shape, or greater as in giving wise counsel to the President of the United States.
Take courage friend….
Your ouch is necessary.
Principle #3: All things beget that which they are.
I’m taking a narrow vein on this one, because this principle is so magnanimous…
But simply put-
Whatever you set out to do originally, or whatever your initial drive was…believe in that unceasingly. You can waver- but do not cease. Cling to it at all times. Belief begets belief… only by believing can you progress to deeper levels of something/Someone to believe in.
Do not be fooled: Suspension of belief is a thinly veiled belief in self doubt. It will not take you where you seek to go.
Start with belief.
Learn with belief.
Transition with belief.
Belief never ends….