Friday, 03 April 2015 19:15

Are You in Godís Arena?

Written by  Nancy Thomas, LPC
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Since the beginning of Lent, I have found myself pondering my willingness to sacrifice for my faith, family and community.  Throughout the history of the United States, remarkable sacrifices have been made by our forbearers.  Many of them had few material possessions to give, but they gave their lives in service to their faith and country.

I wonder if my desire for comfort causes me to avoid anything that might compromise it?   Am I, in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s description, a “moderate” more devoted to “order” and the status quo than to completing the mission to which God calls us? Am I striving to do God’s work with great devotion? 


In my clinical practice, identifying one’s God given purpose is a great challenge for many. To identify our purpose, we must be aware of the gifts He has given each of us to use for His glory.  Operating outside of one’s gifts causes frustration but operating within one’s gifts provides peace and divine fulfillment, even if we are exhausted in the process.  


In Romans 12, Paul instructs us to…

1 offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 3…think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.     4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function…. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.


Am I willing to seek and trust the Holy Spirit’s leading, identifying my gifts and boldly seeking the opportunities God presents me to make a difference in this world?  Taking up the cross is to sacrifice self for what is right and let go of approval, comfort, status, and privilege. Jesus was a clear example of sacrifice and the gospels provided us with clear instructions.


Mark 8:34-38 (NIV) “…Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”


I was deeply moved by Theodore Roosevelt’s quote from “The Man in the Arena” which was read as a comment on the sacrifice a veteran made on multiple occasions.  

“The credit belongs to the man  who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly….” 



In his letter from the Birmingham Jail in August of 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote “So here we are…with a religious community largely adjusted to the status quo, standing as a tail-light behind other community agencies rather than a headlight leading men to higher levels of justice.”



Are we in God’s arena?  Are we taking up the Cross striving valiantly to be God’s headlight? Are we passionate enough to suffer rejection or condemnation for our faith? At some point in our lives, we will have to decide if we will take up the Cross.  What sacrifice is God calling you to make?




Last modified on Thursday, 23 April 2015 19:22
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