If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”Jeremiah 12:5 (NIV)
I admit, much of my life feels like a hassle; like I’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn me out.
It can be the cumulative effect of little inconveniences, such as realizing I left my wallet on the kitchen counter after the cashier has rung up all my groceries, or, the tire pressure warning light comes on when I need to get somewhere quickly, or, I have to make a second trip to the Home Depot to get what I really needed the first time.
Or, it can be a major inconvenience that seems to come out of left field: a love letter from the IRS, a job loss, or needing a new $6,000 a/c unit when my daughter’s college tuition is due.
None of these smaller things alone really causes me to take my eyes off of Jesus, but two or more in the same day, or one a day over a week, or one major inconvenience, and I’m feeling pretty discouraged. The old tapes start to play, “You are so stupid,” or, “Nothing will ever go your way”. Oh, and, “If God really cared, this would not have happened.”
Then, I’m exactly where the Enemy would have me be; worn out, disoriented, and not very pleasant to be around. Joy, hope, faith…all out the window until I can recover my true heart. That can take a few hours, a few days, a few weeks, or even a month or more, depending on the magnitude of the hassle.
Yes, we can attribute much life’s inconveniences to living in a fallen world. Yes, we can attribute some of them to the Enemy of our souls, especially the lies he whispers when we are feeling overwhelmed. Yes, we can attribute much of it to our own forgetfulness. All of that is true.
Catching a Falling Heart
But, if we stop there, then we really are left with the feeling that all of life is vanity; chasing after the wind. We will just kind of slog through life, longing for the relief of heaven someday. Heaven is a great hope, but what about the “life and life to the full” that Jesus says he came to bring…now…in the meantime?
I would say, we start by reframing “hassle”. Hassle ought not catch us by surprise for all the reasons listed above, but how we interpret it is of the utmost importance. There is something God is up to in the “hassle”; training.
God longs to entrust His presence and power in the lives of ordinary human beings. To do this, He must grow character within us and often this is forged in the fires of adversity, pain, and loss.”Dallas Willard – The Divine Conspiracy
Remember, Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good.” Remember Joseph, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” God is up to something. He is taking us somewhere. Will we follow?
I’ve often looked at hassle as something that needs to be overcome, “Solve it. Get it over with.” But, for all other things it might also be, let us remember hassle really is the invitation of God into training. Training for what? Training to entrust us with His presence and power. Training to trust us with more of His kingdom. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10 NIV)
We must learn to be faithful men and women of character in the midst of the smaller hassles (not worn out with men on foot). Because, if we cannot do it there, we will not be very stable kings and queens who are entrusted with more in God’s kingdom. Good kings and queens are settled. Their foundations are not rocked when the major hassles come (competing with horses). They can still lead others, and further, help reframe hassle for those in their care.
Competing with Horses
God wants us to learn to compete with horses. There are no shortcuts to our spiritual formation; the hassles will come. There are no quick paths to stable kingdom influence. Do you know any unqualified kings or queens; people that had positions of influence that imploded because of their lack of character, woundedness, or small faith? Sure, you do. Sadly, we all do.
So, let us not see hassle as a problem to be solved, but reframe it as the invitation of God to be trained for our unique and crucial kingdom roles. That can look like a lot of things: deep healing of our wounds and their corresponding tapes, areas of forgiveness, owning our true identity as beloved sons and daughters of God, growing dependence on & conversational intimacy with Him, the practice of patience, learning to live by faith and not by sight, and a thousand other ways.
Prayer of Reflection
Lord, Jesus, forgive us where we have taken your invitations to training and made them opportunities for us to reinforce a victim mentality, lose heart, fall into resignation, or respond to life with caustic cynicism. Help us to reframe hassle as invitation to spiritual maturity. Thank you, Jesus, that the good work you began in us, will be seen through to completion. We embrace your path and trust your good heart towards us. We look forward to becoming the good, trustworthy kings and queens you created us to be and taking up our rule and reign in your kingdom, but only when you say we are ready. – Amen.
I am an Anglican Priest, an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach (ACC), and Certified Spiritual Director (CSD). My mission is simple: I help people discover who God created them to be…and how to get there.
If you have any questions, including how to begin a Christian Life Coaching or Spiritual Direction relationship with me, please feel free to contact me.