First it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done. Hudson Taylor, China Inland Mission founder
Ob·sta·cle: a thing that blocks one's way or hinders progress
Personal transformation stories can often inspire me to persevere during times when I just want to throw in the towel. It is a misunderstanding that obstacles and problems disappear when we take Jesus Christ seriously and allow him to be Lord in our life. Obstacles and problems happen. But the difference is how followers of Christ allow the Spirit of God to work in their lives as various challenges arise. Jesus was guided by his vision for his life. Yet, he faced incredible personal, external and spiritual obstacles.
Personal obstacles are inner struggles and difficult to overcome because they are unseen. Some examples of personal struggles include moral failures, educational shortcomings, medical hurdles and emotional blind spots. One of the most debilitating obstacles can be a sense of unworthiness. When we fail to draw our sense of self-worth from God, we are unable to become the person God has created us to be. A right understanding of who we are in Christ can transform us. Aspects of our past, such as learned behaviors, past failures and poisoned relationships can hinder how we view ourselves and how God sees us.
What parts of your past hold you back from seeing yourself as God sees you--as a beloved son or daughter worth making the ultimate sacrifice?
External obstacles develop from outside us. We are not the cause but we must respond. Sometimes external problems arise from our family, workplace, community, church, neighbors or even our nation. These obstacles are often linked to our relationships with people or systems we encounter daily. Conflicts occur and we require God's wisdom and knowledge to help us not only deal with the situation but possibly heal and restore broken relationships. Conflicts and sabotage are unavoidable. It is important to handle them in a God-honoring way.
Reflect on the last conflict you experienced. Was it resolved in a God-honoring way?
We confront personal and external struggles differently than overcoming spiritual obstacles. Jesus was very clear about the all-out moral and spiritual war that's in progress. Evil, cruelty, unhappiness and illness are at work in the world. Christ followers are often challenged with the reality of spiritual warfare in intense ways. Deception, including self-deception, is a primary tool for evil to work. Our role as Christ followers is to put on the 'armor of God' and fight the good fight. Spiritual warfare is not a joke or myth and should not be taken lightly.
The statement, "it's not a question of if but when" seems dauntingly true to spiritual warfare. Remember Jesus' words--take heart, I've overcome the world. (John 16:33 Msg)
I find I am closest to Christ during times of struggle. These battles and obstacles can be the make-or-break situations where God can truly work in us or our situation for his purpose and glory. These times are often when people reject God and can become embittered toward him. The real challenge is for us to acknowledge we cannot overcome obstacles on our own. Once I surrendered and humbly asked for help, God's presence was not only more real to me but empowering. It was only then I recognized I became more than a conqueror through Christ who strengthened me. Personal transformation doesn't come trouble free. Jesus has scars to prove it. Why would any of us ever settle for anything less?
Then he focused his attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.” (John 20:27 The Message)