I rarely watch TV, but when I do it’s usually a movie that I will watch with the kiddos for some inexpensive family entertainment. And since I don’t watch the tube very much, I miss a lot of the commercials. Recently however, I spent a night tossing and turning, so I grabbed the remote, turned the television on, and started flipping through channels. I was surfing through channels to find something boring to ease me into a peaceful slumber. However, my plan backfired on me.
Late at night the programming is aimed at infomercials. For $19.95 we can find anything and everything. There are far too many products claiming to fix problems, make our lives easier, and find the solution to everything. And I mean everything. Instead of being bored by this late night programming and drifting off to sleep, I found myself thinking about the products offered. I wondered why, if the products were indeed the perfect solution, were there two offered for the price of one? Were the items cheesy? Would they break? Was it just a “gimmick” to lead to an impulse purchase?
I listened over and over to that famous tag line, “But wait…order NOW, and we’ll send you TWO of these, throw in this additional gizmo, and send you that gadget at no additional cost! But you must order now!” And the testimonials were not very convincing. Why, Why, Why is there always a disclaimer somewhere on the television screen that says, “Actual results may vary” or “Results not typical”? If I’m going to invest in something, I want the best, I want assurance, and I want to feel confident in the product. Yet after watching this for 15 minutes, I was just not feeling it.
I wasn’t convinced enough to jump out of bed, run to grab my purse, and place my order. Instead, I stayed snug in my blankets, scratched my cat’s ears, and started to think. I knew that I wasn’t anywhere near getting to sleep. When I start thinking like that I know I’m usually in for a long night.
Here’s what I thought about:
There IS a product that can teach us how to fix our lives, and it’s been around for centuries. It hasn’t needed a new and improved anything. It’s the same as it was, will remain the same always and the promises aren’t just for one person-they fit everyone. It’s the Bible. It contains all the instructions for life that we’ll ever need. Jesus is the only one who can fix everything from the first day of our life on earth to the last, and every life challenge we face in between.
There is no new technique, no book (mine included), no teaching that can help us fix our problems unless we are actively seeking God while using them. There are plenty of great Christian books and resources that can encourage and teach us how to move forward in our lives, but unless we are praying and staying in close communication with Our Father, our efforts are self-reliant. When our efforts are based on trust in ourselves, we fail to rely on God’s promises. Instead we rely on a faulted person to use even the best of products/resources available. A book, counselor, or class may help us understand how to implement life change, but seeking God, praying, and working on your life change with Him every step of the way will yield the results we seek. In other words, we can’t do it alone. Nor are we meant to. Seek Him always!
If we are failing to seek God first and foremost, can we really be surprised when our lives are messed up? What did we put our trust in? In reality, we are always on the look out for a “quick fix” to our financial difficulties, careers, troubled relationships, broken marriages, and the other nine million challenges in our life areas. Are we a nation of people who pray only when we hit rock bottom? I asked this last question because when I thought about it, to me it seems that if we prayed constantly, stayed in touch with God constantly, sought our answers in the Bible first and foremost, learned the God-breathed scriptures inside and out, that we wouldn’t be looking for a quick-fix at all. We wouldn’t need one.
There is nothing wrong with using books, tools, and resources from others to aid us in fixing our life areas. Sometimes we all need encouragement, a list of how to’s and actual steps from individuals who’ve done it before. But, we need to avoid becoming “fixed” upon them as the solution to all our problems. They are merely aids. The solution is found when we seek God first, during, and after their use. This means we need to continue to seek Him after we use the available tools to avoid falling back into our old habits and facing the same challenges we worked so hard to overcome.
I’ll give a few examples:
Have you ever been on a diet and utilized a diet plan or personal trainer? There are some great tools available to assist with weight loss. However, the tool by itself doesn’t aid us in resisting temptation to eat a donut at a business meeting. Praying and seeking God helps us resist temptations to not eat the “ooey, gooey” tempting treat. Our strength comes from Him and is available to us at all times.
Have you ever had an addiction to overcome? There are great books, classes, and resources available to help overcome such things as alcoholism, tobacco use, gambling, or pornography addictions. But when that temptation or the urge is so overpowering that you feel yourself scrambling and thinking, “Just one more time, I’ll quit tomorrow”, prayer and strength to resist can only come from God. Books and programs can help you with the how (the actual steps) and encouragement, but the actual strength to resist and keep pressing forward comes through the strength we can receive through our Savior.
The examples could go on and on and include everything from sour relationships, overcoming abuse, reaching our goals, raising our children, fixing our finances, and more. There is no doubt we need help to get through life, but we are spending millions on “things” to fix us, and not much fixing is being achieved! When I thought about why this is, I realized that we are trying to harness the power of man for the fixes and spending way too much.
How much does it cost to receive more hope, power, and strength than we could ever imagine possible to succeed with the life challenges we face? It costs nothing. There are no disclaimers to say it will work for some people but not all. We can go back again and again to receive more. All we have to do is hand the challenges over to Christ, leave them at the cross that He bore for us, and seek Our Father’s promises through our trust in Him.
The tools, books, classes, and numerous resources available are meant to be “aids and tools” to assist and encourage us to solve our life challenges, but they are not the solution. The next time we pick up a self-help book or utilize the latest resource to implement lasting change in our lives, let’s be sure to utilize it with God as the power source for our change.
Use the resources available to you, but first and foremost, pray. Consult Him and rely on His strength from the first day of your journey toward life change to your last day on earth.
Part II of this thought series is coming shortly…