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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jackie Minor

THE AMAZING WORK OF GOD. Look How Far You’ve Come!


Several months ago, she was having a conversation with someone regarding her experiences at work. She listened intently, asking questions, truly curious about this person’s situation. She treasured the opportunity to be brought into her friend’s confidence. As she walked away from the encounter, she sensed the Holy Spirit saying, “Do you realize how far you’ve come? You could have interjected your thoughts and experiences into the conversation, but you didn’t. Not only did you not interrupt, you didn’t feel the need to. Do you realize how far you’ve come?”

 

You see, in the past, she would have been sitting on pins and needles, looking for an opening to interject her own thoughts and feelings. She wouldn’t have been able to ask questions because, quite frankly, she wouldn’t have been listening. Her mind would have been consumed with what she wanted to say. God had been changing her, and she was incredibly grateful for the reminder.


To be fully transparent, the “she” in the above real-life scenario is me. I have been praying quite some time now for God to give me a heart of love and compassion for others. While I know I still have a long way to go, this small interaction was confirmation that God is hearing my prayer and slowly, but surely, changing my heart.


I share this experience with you out of great humility and thankfulness. I wholeheartedly believe the words Jesus spoke to his disciples when He said, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) I also believe He has to the power to change us and transform our lives. I am so grateful for His willingness to take what little we have to offer and use it for His purposes.


If you had a chance to read the last blog, you know where this is headed. Let me reiterate a statement I made in that blog. “As the enemy continues to gain ground, we as believers need to share (at least with each other) what we are experiencing learning, and hearing from the Lord.” Our stories and spiritual journeys serve as a source of encouragement and evidence of God's faithfulness to those around us. It’s not about boasting in ourselves. It’s about boasting in the Lord! (1 Corinthians 1:31


In Part 1 (https://www.victoriouseducator.com/post/the-amazing-work-of-god-why-we-must-share), I shared three truths and areas of growth. I promised to share more this time. Before I do that, I want to once again encourage you to take some time to reflect on the work that God is doing in your own life, Additionally, consider when and to whom you want to share your story.


As educators, we know how powerful it is to identify and acknowledge growth. We do it with our students all the time. Why wouldn’t we consider celebrating our growth in our walk with the Lord? The enemy wants us to ignore, deny, or simply be unaware of the changes God is making in our hearts. Worse yet, he wants us to focus solely on our shortcomings, losing sight of the Holy Spirit’s transformative power (2 Corinthians 3:18). Let’s not let him get away with this any longer!


Let’s build on the truths shared in Part 1. Here are two more areas in which God is continuing to make changes in my own life. Celebrate with me and be encouraged! The amazing work of God changes us!


TRUTH #4 - CONTROL YOUR THOUGHTS.

 

Like most educators, my mind is always “on” (i.e., always processing, problem-solving, reasoning, analyzing, wondering, creating). The mind is powerful, and the more we try to study it, the more confusing it seems to be. Regardless of the research that is done, I’m not sure God will ever allow us to fully understand how our our minds work. However, we don’t have to have a degree in brain science to know that our thoughts are at the root of all we say and do. I was reminded of this recently when reading Paul’s words to the Christians living in Rome.

 

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (emphasis  mine)


This verse came right after Paul told them to wholly surrender their lives in worship to Christ (v.1).  Once they did this, their minds would be transformed and renewed, aligning their will with God’s will. I have a tendency to try and figure things out on my own. After all, God gave me a brain. Aren’t I supposed to use it?  Of course I am. However, I’m learning that the first step in controlling my thought life is to surrender.

 

I haven’t always connected the dots between my thoughts and actions. We go through days accomplishing tasks, interacting with people, and doing our jobs with our minds on autopilot.  This isn’t always a bad thing, but there are times when it’s critical that we pay attention to the thoughts coming into our minds. One important area for me is when others criticize me or question my integrity.


When faced with criticism, people tend to react in one of two ways. The first is to become defensive and retaliate. The second is to doubt oneself and consider the possibility that the criticism may hold some truth. Regrettably, I have found myself in both situations during the course of my life. However, I’m growing!

 

My response in the past varied depending alsoon the source of the criticism, but I’m learning to not say or do anything until I get God’s perspective on the matter.  This is a huge growth area for me because I am a quick processor and problem solver.  Most of the time those traits work well together, but they can be a dangerous combination if I feel under attack.

 

Being criticized isn’t easy to handle, but I've found that pausing to ask God for guidance can make all the difference. If there's some truth to the criticism, I try to be willing to face it head-on, but if it's baseless negativity, I don’t want to act unkindly or feel discouraged. Instead, I remind myself of who I am in Christ and what God says about me, not what others say about me. God’s Word reminds me I am chosen, loved, forgiven, and redeemed. I do not need to prove myself to anyone. Christ is my advocate and I trust Him to defend me.

 

Galatians 5:25 says that living by the Spirit requires keeping in step with the Spirit. The only way to renew our minds and control our thoughts is to welcome the Holy Spirit into every aspect of our lives. It's a daily practice, but it has brought tremendous growth to my life.


TRUTH #5 - THERE IS PURPOSE IN THE STRUGGLE.


Have you ever said to yourself, “Why does this have to be so hard?”  I have, and more than once. Lately, God has been responding to me with three simple words: Depend on me.”  Sometimes I also ask (as if His answer is not enough), “Will it ever get easier?”  When I do, I hear the same response: “Depend on me.”  

 

What has been my area of growth?  I’m beginning to see my struggles as opportunities. Difficult times are not experiences to be dreaded or avoided but opportunities to see God work. He is increasing my dependence on Him and growing my faith. Instead of getting frustrated and trying to take matters into my own hands, I’m taking one day at a time, acknowledging there is purpose in the struggle. When I allow God to take control of a situation, He will prevail, and I can leave the results up to him. (Proverbs 16:9, 19:21)


Let me share a specific example with you. Some time back I was charged with leading an event. Like any relatively large event, you depend on many people to do their parts so that everything runs smoothly. In this particular situation, multiple people dropped the ball in the planning stage. I was aware of this and did my best to continue to encourage others to follow through; needless to say, it did not happen.  In the final hour leading up to the event, issues arose that were incredibly frustrating. As a result, I went into we have to fix this mode and became overly insistent and assertive. I am not proud of how I responded. I literally stepped out of walking in the Spirit and started walking in the flesh. After several apologies, I took time to sit down and reflect with the Lord on the incident, asking Him to show me why I let everything bother me so much.

 

The most important thing I want you to know is that during my heart-to-heart with God, I felt His grace. I can be hard on myself at times; however, I didn’t feel condemned. Instead, I just felt loved.  I wish I could explain it to you more fully what I felt, but it is difficult to explain. I’m having a hard time even typing as the tears are welling up in my eyes.  I felt the truth of Scripture deep in my innermost being. His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

 

After several days of reflection, a couple of growth areas emerged. First, I was reminded that no situation I encounter is an accident.  I am there for a purpose, and God wants to use me in each situation to reflect His goodness, not mine. The struggle forced me to get my thoughts on Him (back to my first point) and off of myself. 

 

Second, all He asks from me is to do my best and trust Him with the rest.  He can handle it. I must be patient and rest in His provision. You don’t know how freeing this has been for me! I do not have to ask, “Why does this have to be so hard?” Instead, I can ask, “What do you want to teach me?”  I’m choosing to believe there is always a purpose in the struggle!


I honestly believe this might be life-changing for me, and I can see how it might be for you.  Being an educator today is full of struggles. While I don’t want you to sacrifice your health or well-being, it is my prayer that you will see God’s purpose in your own struggles and rest in His ability to do what you cannot.

 

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4

 

I actually had more to share with you, but I’m sensing I have made my point! Now it’s your turn.  As you reflect on your own spiritual journey with Jesus, I pray you take time to ponder how far you’ve come! This Christian walk isn’t about perfection. It is about growing in spiritual maturity as we trust God to do His transformative work. There is this passage in 2 Peter that I find very encouraging. It is a little longer than I usually share, but it sums up well all I have been trying to say.  Please read through it slowly.


By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.  And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.


In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.


The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ2 Peter 1:3-8  (emphasis mine)


Celebrate the amazing work God is doing in your life, and don’t keep it to yourself. It’s time to share!

 

So that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:31

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