Just A Thought

God is an Optimist

by Bishop John W. Hanson.

God is an optimist. I know this because He believes in me and He gives me opportunities that I know I can’t handle on my own. I know this because He gives me hopes and dreams that I know I don’t deserve and that I cannot fulfill. I know He is an optimist because His Word declares a world-wide awakening before He returns, and He describes heaven filled with multitudes of people.

If we allow God to be our primary influencer, we can be optimists as well. Life is tough, bad things happen, and people can be cruel, but believers can still live an abundant life, because God helps them see things from a heavenly point of view. When God fuels our thinking instead of friends on Facebook, talking heads in the so-called news, celebrities, educators and politicians, then our life will be empowered and steered by heaven rather than being pulled and jostled by earth.

Letting God help us navigate life can be compared to the international system of air traffic control. Consider how dangerous and confusing it would be if every plane tried to talk with every other plane within a few hundred miles, trying to work out a safe flight plan and a successful landing. The solution is to have every plane with a certain area communicate with a control tower. When every pilot gets their direction from a Air Traffic Controller that sees every other plane in the area, everyone can fly safely.

People who are in a serious relationship with God soon learn that God wants to speak into their life. He uses books, sermons, and people. But God’s primary means of communication is through the Bible and personal times of prayer. Those who learn to have two -way conversations with God can then operate their life fueled by God’s love and optimism. They will discover that God is restorative, graceful, patient, gentle and hopeful. This is more than typical optimism which relies on trying to have a glass-half-full mentality. This is an optimism that can see the challenges and injustices of life from heaven’s point of view. This is not just believing good things will happen. This is believing in a good God and a good outcome even when bad things happen.

I have often made the mistake of taking advice from earth instead of heaven. I have let people and circumstances bum me out. The antidote to this is communication with God – prayer. Prayer allows heaven to drive instead of earth. Talking to, and hearing from, God gives perspective. Releasing stress to God allows peace. Repenting to God eradicates guilt. While a believer’s path may take them through life-changing disasters, when God is navigating, the believer can be confident and joyful in their journey. Daily staff meeting with God (prayer, reading, listening, worshipping) and regular conversations with spiritual leaders are powerful disciplines that help believers see life from heaven’s point of view

Often in difficult times people will quote Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” But that scripture goes on to say, “to them who are the called according to his purpose.” The point being that we can be optimists when we buy in to God’s way of life, because God’s way will ultimately lead to everlasting life. I can be an optimist because I have hitched my car to God’s train, and He is and optimist.

Just a Thought

By John W. Hanson

Embrace the Process

He was a grown man squirming in his pew. What would people think? At first he was a little miffed at the preacher for having the gall to be so straight-forward. Then he felt a bit angry with God for allowing things to unfold in his life as they had. Finally he began to feel the guilt and regret (that he was all too comfortable with) as he admitted that so many of his issues were caused or complicated by his own choices.

Now he had a choice to make. The preacher had just likened God to a coach and himself to an assistant coach. He proposed that God takes responsibility for empowering and refining us, but that we needed to be willing to cooperate. He thought about his six year old son whose coach often pushed him and trained him by having him do exercises. As his son cooperated, he became a better player, even though he didn’t always understand what the coach was up to. Did he trust God enough to let Him be his coach?

Thinking back, he realized that God had set him up! God knew he was only human and that he needed some help coming face to face with his issues. It was probably not just coincidence that he had recently encountered an old friend who triggered painful memories of hurt and rejection. The book he was reading and a few scriptures from his devotional reading had also nudged him to take a fresh look at the need to forgive people and accept forgiveness for himself. Everything was priming him for this moment; this opportunity to walk to the front of his church and cry out to God as others ministered to him.

As the minister asked everyone to stand, his attention was drawn back to the minister who was now comparing God to the good shepherd who is trying to move his sheep to new pastures – higher dimensions of living. He had to admit, there were many Bible stories in which God did that very thing. In fact the Bible talks about God refining us as silver is refined in the fire. Maybe his recent struggles were doing a good work in his heart. The process was definitely helping him to be honest with himself. And with God, there was hope.

As the music began to play, he felt that familiar and wonderful sense of God’s presence. God was so patient and kind. He didn’t feel condemned; just challenged. He also felt reminded of the many times he had bravely stepped out before. God was always so encouraging, and he had never regretted any advances he had made as a result of God’s prompting. Suddenly it dawned on him: he was not on trial… this was not a guilt-driven emotional collapse… this was an opportunity to let God help him rise above his past and experience more love, joy and peace. The choice was obvious – He needed to step out and embrace the process.