When Things Get Complicated

In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. –Jonah 2:2 (NIV)

My husband and I aren’t ones to replace things just because they’re old and outdated. If it still works—however it works—we use it. If it breaks, we fix it.

We have two old televisions (actually three if I count the one we use in the living room): one in the camper and one on the back deck. Both are big, bulky, heavy, and cumbersome. The picture on both is on the fuzzy side but viewable without eyestrain.

20160610_121604We rarely use the one in the camper because when we go camping, we want to spend time outdoors, hiking, seeing the sights, and sitting around the campfire. The only time we use it is on a rainy day when there’s nothing else to do but watch DVDs. The one on the back deck we use all summer long, mostly for baseball games.

We stepped out of character last week, though, and splurged on a new television: a 32-inch, flat-screen TV that didn’t empty our bank account and weighs about 10 pounds. Because it’s so light, we can use it in both the camper and on the back deck.

So we thought. But things are never simple, are they?

We were excited as we took the new TV out of the box and set it up. Well, tried to set it up. Oh, we got a picture, all right, but it wasn’t as sharp as the one in the store and the color was off. I went into the settings, but nothing I did corrected the problem. Did we get a lemon? Back into the box it went.

But I decided to wait until I did a little more research and asked around. The solution may be something simple, but we just don’t see it yet.

I’d like to say the television is up and running the way it should. But I can’t. Because it’s still in the box. We just haven’t had the time to try the solutions that were suggested. It would have been nice to plug it in, turn it on, and sit down and watch it.

Such is life, isn’t it? Complicated, rarely simple. Problems arise that we don’t have the answers for. Perhaps the answer is there, but we just don’t see it. We have to deal with situations and people we don’t understand, no matter how hard we try. Sometimes the answer comes in a trial-and-error list, but we don’t have the time to go through the possible solutions.

So what do we do? Whine and cry and complain? I do more of that than I should.

God invites us to bring our problems to Him:

  • “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22).
  • “Come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden” (Matthew 11:28).
  • “Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
  • “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

I love the word “boldly” in Hebrews 4:16 – it means to go to God with confidence and without fear.

When life gets complicated, the answer is simple: Take it to God. Your heavenly Father is waiting for you to come to Him.

Thank You, Father, for the lessons I learn when life gets complicated. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Psalm 55

Living in an Upside Down World



“These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.” Acts 17:6b (NKJV)

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. – Romans 12:2 (NKJV)


Back when writing was still a “someday” thing, I wrote a short story about a man who woke up one day with his bed on the ceiling. His whole world was turned upside down, and he had to figure out how to get it right-side up again.

While I made up this children’s story just for fun, I now see a deeper meaning, especially when I consider the words recorded in Acts 17:6: “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.”

Who were “they” and what did they do to “turn the world upside down”?

“They” were Paul and Silas. And they “turned the world upside down” by preaching the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3–4). Many in that city—Thessalonica—believed and received Jesus as their Savior and began to turn their own lives around, learning the words of Jesus and obeying them.

True believers, by the very way they live their lives, turn the world upside down—then and now. The perspective of the Christian is a divine, not worldly, point of view, and to obey God means to “live on the ceiling.”

Let’s look at some ways Jesus said to live that are upside down in the world’s viewpoint.large_LP00000415

THE LAST WILL BE FIRST, AND THE FIRST LAST.” (Matthew 20:16). The rush is to be Number 1 and pity the person in the way. Not so, said Jesus. If you want to be raised up, bow down: “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). In other words, the way to up is down.

THE GREATEST OF YOU WILL BE YOUR SERVANT.” (Matthew 20:20–28). James and John got in big trouble with the rest of the disciples when they got their mother to ask Jesus to put them on either side of Him when He ruled the Kingdom. Greatness, in the eyes of the world, equals power over others, “lording it over others,” as Jesus said. But true greatness is in serving; the true leader will be a servant. And then God’s Son demonstrated what He meant by washing his disciples’ feet—the job of the lowest servant in the household. “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14). And again, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

 GIVE IN ORDER TO RECEIVE: “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over . . . For the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38). This echoes God’s command in Malachi 3:10: “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse . . . and try Me now in this . . . If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).

 DIE TO LIVE: Just as the seed must die in order to produce life (John 12:24–25), so the believer must die to self in order to inherit eternal life. That means denying selfish desires and submitting to God’s Holy Spirit, who indwells every believer. It’s hard to say no to our wants—this is the reverse of what the world tells us.

canstock9682558These are just a few of the ways believers live in an upside down world—you see, the way of the world is the one that’s upside down. The way of God is right-side up.

Are you living life upside down or right-side up?

Help me, O God, to live each day right-side up. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on any of the verses quoted in the text.