Excuses or Progress?

I have a friend who was in a serious car accident about a year and a half ago.  Injuries from the accident left him unable to work for quite awhile, so as the bills and the stress rose, the bank account progressively fell.  Fortunately, there was one provision that was available to him that could at least ease the pressure: an insurance settlement.  He submitted all the required paperwork and waited for one additional item: written proof from his doctor of his diagnosis and treatment.

The doctor, who works alone in a private medical practice, agreed to get him what he needed.  My friend waited.  And waited.  He contacted the doctor again.  “I’ll have it for you Tuesday.”  “I’m almost done.” “I just need a little more time.”  Weeks turned into many months but still nothing came from the doctor.

My friend continued to follow up and received regular email updates from the doctor.  These emails were paragraphs upon paragraphs long, detailing his own hardships, how he works long days, and how he is struggling with his own medical issues.  Often the doctor went into great (and uncomfortable to read) detail describing his various illnesses.  This situation has gone on for the better part of a year: long excuses, no progress or relief for my friend.  Everyone who hears the story comes to the same conclusion: “If he just spent half the time working on the medical records that he did writing up the excuses, he would have been done by now!”

Not long ago I went out for a long run and spent some time with God as I ran.  Often my time running is like an oasis for me as I can be alone with my thoughts and with the Lord.  But this particular day I was a little down.  I was thinking about times in my life when I felt incredibly close to the Lord, closer than I feel right now.  The thoughts were consuming: What changed?  Why am I not where I need to be?  What is wrong with me?  Will I ever really be transformed into the image of Christ?  My head was spinning and my heart was growing increasingly discouraged.

Then I remembered my friend’s story.  And in that moment, I felt like God was speaking to me: “If you spent half as much time and energy on your relationship with Me as you do complaining about why it’s not where you want it to be, you would be in a much different place!”  How gracious the Lord is to tell us what we really need!  That moment was a reminder to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)  I had a fresh opportunity to stop my thought in its tracks and dwell and the things that are “good and true and right.” (Philippians 4:8)

Perhaps you, like so many of us, wish you had a closer relationship with God.  You have heard that you should love Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, but your life doesn’t seem to reflect that priority.  Maybe instead of feeling discouraged and spending time and energy lamenting what isn’t true, you can take that same time and energy to begin to cultivate the relationship with God that you long for.  You might be surprised by how quickly things begin to turn around!