Each season of our soul can be hard, yet uniquely good in what it accomplishes in us if we find God there. The sunny days of summer are too hot and the cozy days of winter are too cold. Even though every season has the potential to be amazing, each also has its own tests and challenges. Why? In order to answer this question, I'm going to borrow one of my favorite quotes from Mr. Wonderful (aka Johnny Enlow):
"Your life is an obstacle course, designed by God to maximize your capacity to love."
Point Number One
Life can be an obstacle course. Life wasn't meant to be easy! Imagine a runner who thinks he's running a sprint when he's actually running a hurdle race. If he thinks it's only about running fast, then he's going to be pretty shocked and frustrated every time he comes up to a hurdle that only looks like a road block to him. But if he has trained for hurdles and expects them, he most likely enjoys the race because he has positioned himself for success.
The same is true for an obstacle course. Many people actually train for them and enjoy the challenge. The point of every obstacle on an obstacle course is to get over it — to overcome. Seasons are difficult because they serve a greater purpose and teach us to overcome. Don't stop to complain about the obstacles or you'll grow weary and get stuck. Keep moving!
Point Number Two
The course you are on was specifically designed by God for you. That can be quite disheartening when it's painful. Pain brings confusion and opens the door to lies like nothing else can. But pain can also reveal truth and, if we'll let it, it brings us the best gifts in life. I intend to write a whole book on this, so for now I'll just say this: God isn't the source of the pain. But since He's the only One who can stop it, if He doesn't, then a trap door can open revealing a slippery slope into hopelessness.
Hope, in essence, is the ability to expect God to be good to you. When we lose hope, our filter of perception becomes damaged. We can't see His true heart for us and we can even be used by the enemy to advance the incorrect reputation of God in the Earth. Um, we don't want to do that. So, just because He designed your obstacle course and it's super painful at times doesn't mean that He doesn't care about your pain—or that He wants you to remain in that place. Just keep moving!
Point Number Three
The whole point of the obstacle course is to maximize your capacity to love. I'll add: to maximize your capacity to know how loved you are and to give that love away. You'll know you're truly successful at navigating the difficult seasons of your personal obstacle course as you see yourself growing in love.
There's no greater victory than love. Not our definition of love, but His — the kind that's patient, kind, not envious, boastful or proud. Love that treats others honorably, isn't selfish or easily angered, and doesn't build a case against someone. Love that doesn't like evil but is thrilled about the truth, always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. You'll know you've learned His kind of love because it's the only unfailing one.
The thing is, it's so perfect that you can't possibly come up with it on your own. All you can do is let it in when everything around you is trying to convince you that He doesn't love you and He cannot be trusted. But if you can hear His kindness above the pain and the desire for ease and comfort, and let His love hit its mark in your heart, then you'll have more than enough of His love to give away.
Hebrews 12:1 encourages us, "Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." Any good athlete, when it's time to actually play the game, has to go back to the basics and the simplicity of focus. For us, on the obstacle course of life, we must return to the basics of enduring love. Love Him well. Love yourself well. Love others well. And keep moving! (To Subscribe to the Elijah List subscribe here.)