Last year we planned a vacation to travel from Texas to Florida in our vehicle. The planning stage extended for three months due to anticipated travel hours per day with pre-determined cities for staying overnight. Although we meticulously researched and reserved lodging in 3 towns (allowing 8-10 hours of travel daily), due to heavy traffic and construction, our daily trip was 12-13 hours, which left us exhausted. Because we chose the lower prepaid, no-refund rates, we were pressured to rely on drinking caffeine, and to continue driving. Never again!
Despite the on the road challenges, we had a wonderful time. It was the vacation of a lifetime, spending quality time with our children and grandchildren erased all of the fatigue and stressors of two seniors driving 1200 miles one-way. God extended His mercies during our trip. The only setback that we endured was a rock cracking the rental vehicle’s windshield. God’s grace and mercies freely flowed, the owner filed for damages against his company’s insurance instead of using our vehicle insurance coverage.
The obstacles we experienced while driving from Texas to Florida required us to modify our existing plans for the return trip. We decided not to place pressure on ourselves by reserving lodging in advance. While on the road, we identified our layover city after traveling for 6 hours, using a 2-3 hour window to select two possible cities for spending the night, and reserved from our vehicle. We had to experience the downside of over-planning and inflexibility when traveling cross-country to make a radical change for the return trip.
Speaking of tests and trials, within 9 months, our lives have changed drastically. Globally, we are experiencing a bundle of crises; health, economic, social, political, and natural disasters. Yes, we developed our plans and goals to have a bright future in 2020. And then we were blindsided by events that caused tsunami-like devastation, and a New Normal forced us to think outside of the box, accept and practice major changes. Or did we belong to the other group of individuals?
Whenever a change is required, there will always be a resistant group of individuals who refuse to adapt. Although it is difficult to understand why individuals make and embrace bad decisions, it is a freewill choice to endure the negative consequences of emotionally-based reactions.
Thankfully, many of us have committed to serve God, which means we are not alone to resolve our obstacles. Please understand that our spiritual journey involves additional hardships aside from the crises. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5
Because we lack understanding of why we suffer trials and sorrows, many attempts are made to resist the radical change in our characters that God requires for us to receive our reward of Eternal life.
These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:7
The Bible is our all-in-all spiritual guide. God’s requirements for an acceptable character are defined in His Word.
- “What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus said. “Do this, and you will live.”… Luke 10:26-28. Loving God means that we learn to love God unconditionally with our entire being.
- The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these. Mark 12:31. Are there individuals that you do not like? If so, that is a deal-breaker for living forever in the New Heaven and New Earth.
- Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14. Avoid conflict in your home; do not allow sibling rivalry or marital disputes to escalate or drag on. Forget about competing with your neighbor for the best yard or the biggest house. What about those secret sins? Let go of all ungodly behaviors! If the movie has profanity in the script or adultery is justified in the plot, switch to wholesome entertainment. Chat and dating sites are not included in holy lifestyles, pray and ask God for a godly husband or wife. Use your spare time to volunteer at food pantries, post encouraging scriptures on social media, etc.
- But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23. The God-mandated Character traits of holiness can not be separated, they are a bundle-package. We cannot select the best answer, its all or nothing!
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Hebrews 11:6
We must possess unwavering faith to believe in the Invisible God, His son, Jesus Christ, who died and was resurrected to offer us the Plan of Redemption, and the Holy Spirit who guides us by giving understanding to God’s answers for living righteously. Salvation is freely given to whoever accepts!
Faith believes in God and accepts that He is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient. Only God knows the beginning to the end, only God has the power to take the impossible and make it possible, and only God can be everywhere at all times. Do you need help? What about unyielding strength?
Only God can provide unlimited help based on our individual needs. Do the hardships of life have you drained, feeling weak, and hopeless? Pray for help; our God never sleeps! My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber. Psalm 121:2-3
Trust and obey God! Wait patiently for the LORD; be strong and courageous. Wait patiently for the LORD! Psalm 27:14.
Do not rely on your prior experience, achievements, formal education, or other individuals to resolve the trials that you are currently facing. For by the grace given me, I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. Romans 12:3
Go ahead and place your entire life into God’s hands. Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
Experience is not the best teacher! God does not require us to make mistakes, suffer the consequences, and then ask for His Divine Intervention. When we commit to trusting, obedience, and faithfully waiting for His answer, then He unleashes the power that is beyond our human comprehension. I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! Isaiah 65:24
One word of caution: We cannot pray away the trials needed for our character overhaul. During the test, perform self-reflection, and identify your areas of spiritual weakness. God already knows our strengths and weaknesses. He wants us to be aware of the radical change required to live holy and acceptable lives. Pray for the desire to change, and accept the God-ordained process. The struggle is real! Human Effort + Divine Intervention= Victorious Outcomes
The outcome for submitting to a radical spiritual change is glorious:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:1-4
Bible Readings: Hebrews 11, Revelation 21-22
God, we pray for strength to endure the radical change necessary to eliminate all character defects and live holy and acceptable. We look forward to living forever and ever with you in the New Heaven and New Earth. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the written permission of the author.
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