Is [ Blank ] your First Choice or Last Resort?

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Over the last three weeks, I have been sharing the importance of Truth and Mindset and how it is a big part of my life. My prayer is, it is or will be equally important in your life too.

Last week I wrote on the Five Antidotes to Shifting your Mindset. Here you were given examples on how to eliminate complaining, criticizing, and blaming from your life. Simple, not easy.

This week we are going to explore whether we see Jesus, Prayer, and Positivity as a first choice or last resort in our lives. Before I dive into that, I wanted to share a short story with you. 

Ian – My First Choice, Get Involved

My life is surrounded by men who are displaying their ability and desire to LOVE, LISTEN, and LEAD me. I realize that not everyone is so blessed. God has granted me an ability to recognize when another man is walking alone, then extend an offer to walk with them as they grow in their relationship with God. You may recall a story I shared on Facebook about an extraordinary young man named Ian. Ian works at a Pizzeria in Coralville, Iowa. Since meeting Ian on April 11, 2018, I have been texting him at least once a week with God’s Truth, encouragement, and making sure he knows he is loved and valued in life. I pray for him often and look forward to all the extraordinary things God calls Ian to do. One prayer I have for Ian is that he will see God as his first choice and not a last resort.                                                                          

Photo by  Lucas Sankey  on  Unsplash

Today’s World

America is the land of the free, the home of the brave, and it is the land of the Choice. We have choices and every one of them is likely a first choice or last resort:

·       Coca-Cola or Pepsi.

·       Drive to work or take the bus.

·       Eat at restaurant A or B.

You get it, the list is long. 

Take a moment to pause and reflect on this. We are granted with so many choices and privileges.

Pause Here and think about all that you have a choice to in life.

Now, most of what I listed and perhaps what you reflected on won’t fundamentally alter your life. What I wish to share with you today will.

First Choice - Prince of Peace

When I was younger, I would only talk to God if I needed something. Mainly, I called them emergency prayers. “God, I am out of ideas, can you help me with my final, a sick family member, my black belt test…God, I need endurance.” While talking with God on these and more are exactly what pleases Him, my motive did not. I only went to God if I must. He was looked on by me as a last resort, not a first choice earlier in my life. I’m happy to report that has changed.

During this time in my life, my focus was on me, this world, and the control I believed I had in it. That was until March 5, 1997 when a baby boy entered my life. Suddenly, I needed something I had rejected as a priority. I needed God. I did not have the intellect to raise this baby into a man. I did not want to mess up, the response was great and my ability was small. I had read “You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength” Well, I needed that. I needed strength and I needed to do all things. What I got, however, turning to God first over the last 21 years is so much more. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control began to be the outcome qualities I carried and offered others. Yes, I made mistakes. Yes, God forgave me. Yes, He never left my side. God continues to display His Love, Faithfulness, and Sovereignty in all areas of my life. As I learned to lean on Him and turn to Him as my first choice, He responded to my invitation and provided me the guidance, direction, and love I needed. 

First Choice - Prayer

Two boys and a choice. Worry or release. I could spend all my time worrying about doing the right thing or I could release them to God and seek His counsel. As I learned, few things will drive me to prayer faster than these boys. Whether it’s an illness, an injury, or their salvation, I wanted what was best for them. So, I prayed for their health, wealth, and happiness. It sounded like this:

  • “Lord, please help Alex heal from the head wound he sustained this weekend.”

  • “Lord, please help Keaton grow taller and stronger.”

  • “Lord, please allow the boys to take school seriously so they strive to gain scholarships and leave college debt free.”

I was praying for their relationships, their future spouses, their health, their protection, you name it. I, however, regrettably, was not praying for them to not waver in their relationship with God and allowing His authority in their life, their holiness. I prayed for them to have comfort, success, and courage, yet I missed the value of praying for them to struggle, to grow, to learn, to invite God into all things. In November of 2016, our eldest son came to us and declared his struggle with God. He felt he had what He needed and that was not the church or a relationship with God. Initially, I believed I failed. I turned to prayer as my first choice. It was what I needed, what our family needed. The thing I learned while turning to God in prayer was, He was already at work. God reminded me “Chris, Satan is sifting your son, our son, just like he tried to do with Simon (Luke 22:31), but I have prayed for him, that his faith may not fail so when he turns back to me, he will strengthen his brothers.” I felt such peace hearing this. I did not know during that Thanksgiving weekend in 2016 what this meant or would look like, but I knew God had my son and He just asked me to remain faithful in prayer, turn my trust to Him, and believe. Simple, not easy. 

First Choice - Positivity

OK, there I am praying for an opportunity to speak into my son and there was God lining them up. But while we have a God who desires to give us a full life of joy, we have an enemy who desires to steal that joy. I had chosen God first, I had chosen Prayer first, now I must choose to be positive first. My mindset was a priority, because my son (and family) were a priority.  What I did not know then was God was praying for me too. He was lining up men in my life to journey this trial with. I was not alone. None of us who give our lives to God are alone. I had men at church, my mentor, brothers from work, the men of ISI, family, and my HITOP brothers all speaking truth into me. This allowed me to choose positivity and speak into my son and family. I learned to change my mindset from seeing my son as suffering, to see God refining him. Fire is required and it’s hot. God had to remove things in my son’s life that did not serve him or allow him to serve God. Beautifully, though, God never leaves holes in our life. God replaced an idol my son had with a deeper relationship with himself. He replaced a negative, depressive state with a joy that transcends our understanding. He replaced my son’s perceived health, wealth, and happiness, with HOLINESS and SALVATION. In December 2017, my son shared his testimony and privileged my pastor and me by asking us to baptize him in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Alex Hewitt is enjoying a life now that puts God First. Prayer First. and he continues to work on putting positivity first, as do I. The conversations we had in that year trial will forever be sealed in my heart with deep gratitude and humility. What Alex may not know, is while he may think I was helping him turn to God, Prayer, and Positivity, it was him who was helping me do the same. 

Today, Alex is serving as a Christian Youth Leader and remains focused on a relationship with God, prayer, and positivity. He may have setbacks, but he knows the love of God. He knows what it means to strive to live a life led by the Spirit of God (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). And while there will be days his first choice may be challenged, I am confident his love for God and I know God’s love for him will help him to LOVE. LISTEN. LEAD.

Q&Q – Ponder This

“We can’t escape pain; we can’t escape the essential nature of our lives. But we do have a choice. We can give in and relent, or we can fight, persevere, and create a life worth living, a noble life. Pain is a fact; our evaluation of it is a choice.” ~ Jacob Held

Call to Action

Let me ask you something?

Why are you reading this today?

I believe it is because God is praying for you and has called me to as well. Each week I write I do not have the topic or material until God reveals it to me. This is scary at times, because I want this to be meaningful, well received, and honor God. Yet, each week (sometimes longer) God faithfully delivers. I pray you are seeing the value and know how much I appreciate you following HITOP Life. 

May this message inspire, encourage, and lift you up in some way. May it allow you to see God as someone who desires for you to have contentment in your life, invite Him into your trials, and to give Him permission from your heart to understanding how this trial could refine you.

Will you make The Prince of Peace, Prayer, and Positivity your first choice in all you think, say, and do?  Have an amazing week!

LOVE Unconditionally. LISTEN Intentionally. LEAD a Bold and Triumphant life.

Chris