Robert is a father, husband, chef, life coach recording artist, sculptor and would love to add "Author" to his list of dreams fulfilled.
I trust that we might all agree that trading can be fun. Let’s put it to the test.
Close your eyes just for a moment. I am going to ask you now to recall a time in your life as a kid that you had an opportunity to trade something. It makes no difference whether it was a barbie doll, a race-car, baseball cards, your favorite pillow, a toy ,or maybe even a bike!
Regardless of what the exchange was, what I'd like for you to do is just focus on how that you made you feel.
Go ahead, and conjure up all of the images and feelings that are associated and live in the moment just for a minute or two.
Aaaaah, doesn’t that feel nice?
Typically, this exercise will invoke a nostalgic, almost magical sentiment. There is something extraordinarily special about trading something for something that someone else has that you desire, and predictably a trade is often secured when both persons agree that each will profit from what they will receive in the exchange.
After a trade you may have walked away on more than one occasion thinking that you got the sweet end of the deal.
What you may not realize, is that the other person skipped away considering the very same thing! It's truly the quintessential "win win" scenario.
I just joined you on that lil excursion, and I literally felt a rise in my frequency as a surplus of endorphins flood my entire being. I hope that this short exercise implored a similar response for you.
Along my faith journey, there have been what seem to be countless invitations from God to “trade”. My earliest memories are when I first got saved. Perhaps like you, I had suitcases full of baggage that I had accumulated throughout the years. A wide assortment of trinkets were in my arsenal. Many that I was sure were still needed and counted on to sojourn with me.
An example might be, anger. I was sure that I needed anger to assist me when things got tough. Or better stated, when I felt I was losing a verbal battle and relied on my anger to climb to the top of my totem pole so that I did not have to deal with the other emotions along the way. Especially those that might sway me to give in, or not allow me to maintain the foolish pride that I was walking in.
I don’t think for one minute that this was unique to me. The process that begins in allowing Jesus to transform our lives is one that is very challenging.
I know, I know, “His yoke is easy, trust in the Lord with all thine heart, perfect love cast out all fear.” I knew these verses and several more in my head. I could readily quote them, but the real truth is that I could only talk the talk and not walk the walk. At least not to the degree that I so desired and longed for in my deep.
Many of us could certainly be nominated for an “Academy Award”, for the myriad of characters and faces that we so often bring to the stage of life, in the process of having our corners swept and layers peeled away.
Becoming, discovering and walking consistently by the Spirit is a lifelong journey, not a marathon.
In my dialogue with many on their personal journey, I’ve ascertained what seems to be the common denominator. FEAR! I have observed that fear is one of the most destructive, debilitating, aggressive, stop you dead in your tracks weapons that the enemy utilizes to reduce us to a place where we are left feeling completely hopeless, useless, unworthy, inadequate, ineffective, worthless, unsuccessful to name only a few of the results that he completes in our lives when we succumb to fear.
I have found myself in these places of unequivocal despair more times than I’d like to bring to mind. Wallowing in the mire, screaming in sheer agony, convinced that God had forsaken me, throwing in the proverbial towel only to have Him toss it right back to me. So graciously revealing to me the suitcase and the trinkets that I had become dependent on to survive.
This is the place where the rubber has always met the road. It’s the place on the tarmac where I am face to face with Jesus. Fiercely clinging to the illusion that I cannot trade what I have for what He is offering. How dare Him think that I would trust Him in a new exchange after just being plummeted by crashing waves that rendered me unconscious? No thanks, I think I will pass.
The last thing in the world I would covet at that fork in the road was yet another opportunity to give up my trinkets in exchange for “fruit”! Are you kidding me! Anxiety for patience , aggression for gentleness, tumult for peace, selfishness for kindness?
The answer was a resounding, “NO”!
I didn’t want any more of whatever He had to offer! It simply didn’t work. But no matter how much I rubbed the bottle; the genie would not ever appear! That stubbornness peeled away layers of my skin, and it wasn’t until I reached the inevitable rock bottom on let’s see, ummm my fiftieth visit time that I was finally ready to abandon my trinkets and consider trading for that which I could not see.
One of the least rewarding things that I’ve discovered when it comes to trading with Jesus, is that I never know for certain what I am trading for? I typically do have somewhat of an idea, but I can never convince myself that I will not end up with the short end of the stick.
As I peer into the rearview mirror, I am so grateful for the process. Even though it was severely painful, relentless and disillusioning. When I widen the lens, I get a glimpse of how He used every one of the tumultuous storms in my life to establish a level of faith that has now enabled me to be [less] resistant when a new invitation to trade emerges.
What about you? How have your trade negotiations been with the Lord? Have you been clutching tightly to one of your trinkets and reluctant in accepting what He has for you? Trust me, I know firsthand how real this struggle is. I do not advocate assertively encouraging people to pull up their bootstraps or to muster up the strength to participate in these exchanges.
This is not going to happen by force. This is a process that He alone must take us through. He will impart the necessary grace that we need at the time of the exchange.
We must always keep in mind that, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus”. Philippians 1:6
If there is anything at all that I have learned in almost three decades of following the Lord, is that I must trust the process, every step of the way.
Yes friend, after almost three decades of walking with Him I still have a “back-pack”.
My encounters with Him as we meet to trade, are far less intimidating and, on a few occasions, I have actually been the one to “initiate”, them.
Until I breathe my last breath, I personally believe that I will be in this transformational process.
My hope is that as the curtains close, in my epilogue, I will be down to just a fanny pack.