When I was taking care of my little grandson, William, one day, I offered him a pretzel to snack on while I prepared his meal. He had his pacifier in his mouth at the time, and though he eagerly grabbed the pretzel from me, he refused to give up his pacifier. He began to whine and act miserable, and I told him that he couldn't have the pacifier and the pretzel at the same time - he had to surrender one of them. Eventually, he chose the pretzel, and was able to enjoy every bite.
As I thought about all this, I realized that very often, the Lord is calling us to surrender something that we have, so that we can receive from Him something better that He is holding out to us. What are some of the things that can cause us to resist laying hold of the blessings the Lord offers us? Fear is one. We may think to ourselves, "What if I surrender what I have now, and end up with something inferior - or worse yet, nothing at all?" Habit is another. We become so accustomed to having something, or doing something a certain way, that we can't imagine something different. Procrastination. We always think that we will do it - or deal with it - tomorrow, but we fail to realize that time is slipping away from us, and we are spending yet another day having to do without God's best for us. Stubbornness. We would rather hold on to what we have than to give up control and doing things our own way, not realizing or caring that we are only hurting ourselves. Doubt and unbelief. We don't fully trust God's intentions. We secretly think that He has ulterior motives, or that He doesn't really know or want what is best for us.
The truth is that our God is a "new thing" God. He is constantly challenging us to leave behind old things, so that we can receive the new opportunities, blessings, and rewards that He has for us. He says: "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?" (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV) New things can be scary. We don't always like change, even change for the better. But in order for us to make progress in God's Kingdom, we must say goodbye to the "former things" that He is done with, before we can say hello to the new. The apostle Paul was well acquainted with this principle. Before he could enter in to the new life and calling God had for him, he had to leave behind his old way of life. We know from reading the Scriptures that the Lord was constantly calling Paul to a higher level of faith, obedience, and blessing. It wasn't easy for Paul, but it was rewarding. Today, you and I are still benefiting from the revelation knowledge that the Lord imparted to him. Paul wrote: "Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14 NASB)
With God's help, you and I can also "press on" to lay hold of the new and better things that He has in store for us. As the Message Bible puts it: "Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward - to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back"! (Philippians 3:13-14 MSG)
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times that You beckoned me toward a higher level of obedience and blessing, and I resisted. Take away my fear of change, and help me to trust that You always want what is best for me. Thank You that as I press on to lay hold of the "new things" You have for me, I will enjoy greater blessings and draw others to You!
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