In Sync

By Linda Tancs

The belief that all things work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28) is a recognition of Divine order. It’s an abdication of the need to know how things will work out (Proverbs 3:5). Instead, it’s an acknowledgment that things will work out. All things. Not some things or even most things. God is the ultimate timekeeper, syncing all the times of your life into a harmonious whole. You can probably look at some circumstances already and see how it worked out for the best. God’s not done yet.

Walk, Don’t Run

By Linda Tancs

In Lewis Carroll’s famous tale Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the White Rabbit utters, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” Are you in a hurry? Do you hurry to work, hurry to finish lunch, hurry to mow the lawn, hurry to finish the project? Hurrying has been shown to make one  more error prone. It also causes an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol release. No wonder there’s no mention of Jesus rushing in any of the gospels.

The Bible stresses waiting, patience and walking with the Lord (Psalm 27:14; Psalm 130:5). Admittedly, waiting in a hurried world is a tough task. But the advantages are many, like wisdom, perspective and guidance (Isaiah 40:31). That’s especially useful when circumstances are challenging, in the “fires” of life. Of course, there are times when abusive or dangerous situations dictate that you make haste. But for all those other times, as fire drills remind us,‘walk, don’t run to the nearest exit.’

It Came to Pass

By Linda Tancs

The renowned artist Auguste Renoir was an Impressionist painter, best known for his paintings of bustling Parisian modernity and leisure in the last three decades of the 19th century. He suffered terribly from arthritis in the last decade of his life but continued to paint. When asked why he continued working in such agony, he replied, “The beauty remains. The pain passes.”

That quote reminds me of the Bible phrase, “it came to pass.” It occurs with great regularity, especially in the Old Testament. You might be tempted to just brush it off as a transitional phrase, a way to mark the passage of time in a story with a flourish. But this simple phrase has the potential to mean so much more. Imagine applying it to your difficulties—a job loss, financial reversal, broken relationship, health challenge, or whatever it may be. The problem, or event, didn’t come to stay; it came to pass. Solomon’s Book of Ecclesiastes teaches this principle of coming and going (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). In every storm of life, the pain will pass but the beauty (the ultimate good) will remain. In other words, as Paul reminded the Romans, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 KJV).

Sticks and Stones

By Linda Tancs

An old childhood rhyme begins, “Sticks and stones may break my bones.” In the Bible, stones (and clubs) are often depicted as obstacles, even instruments of death. For instance, we’re reminded of stoning as a punishment for sin in the story about the adulteress brought before Jesus for sentencing (John 8:2-5). Also, Jesus reacts disappointedly to his arrest with the use of swords and clubs, as if He were a robber (Mark 14:48; Matthew 26:55; Luke 22:52). And then there’s the imposing stone placed before the entrance to the tomb following Jesus’ crucifixion (Mark 16:3).

What are your “stones” in life? Age? Infirmity? Anger? Resentment? Fear? Don’t let them break you. There’s no stone so big that He can’t roll it back. Focus on building a better foundation based on the One who is the cornerstone (Psalm 118:22; Acts 4:11).

Excuses, Excuses

By Linda Tancs

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else—Benjamin Franklin.

When you feel called to something, how do you react? Are you reluctant, like Moses (Exodus 3:11)? Are you willing, like Abraham (Genesis 12:1-4)? Or do you feel unworthy, like Isaiah (Isaiah 6)? When you’re called according to God’s will for your life, an opportunity is a wonderful thing to pursue (Ephesians 5:15-17). So why is it so hard sometimes?

Among other things, a fear of failure often leads to procrastination or choosing the path of least resistance (or so it seems). Don’t be afraid to take risks (Proverbs 22:13). Set reasonable goals (Proverbs 20:4) and have an attitude of expectancy, a return on investment (Proverbs 23:7). In other words, cast down your wrong thinking for the kind of thinking that Scripture advocates and you’ll overcome mindsets that undermine your efforts (Romans 12:2).

When it Rains, it Pours

By Linda Tancs

You know what it’s like when you’re having “one of those days,” when everything that could possibly go wrong does exactly that. The prophet Habakkuk could relate. He lamented over fig trees that did not blossom, vines that bore no fruit, failing olive trees, fruitless fields, flock cut off from the fold and no cattle in the stalls (Habakkuk 3:17). I guess you could say he was having a bad day.

Do you often get overwhelmed when circumstances seem out of control? Habakkuk did, too, but God reminded him to trust Him in the midst of oppression and destruction. He instructed him, in essence, to create a vision board and stand by it (Habakkuk 2:3). After all, what’s the use in focusing on what is going wrong when you can visualize a better outcome? It’s easy to quit in hard times, the storms of life. Habakkuk resolved to trust God to make his feet like hinds’ feet—in other words, swift and nimble. How swiftly and nimbly do you act when life throws you a curveball?

Baby Steps

By Linda Tancs

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase—Martin Luther King Jr.

Have you ever marveled at the look of joy on a baby’s face as he or she takes those first steps? Does that baby know what a momentous occasion is being created for the parents? Probably not, but what any baby seems to know innately is that the joy is in the journey, not the destination.

As we get older, we tend to lose the simple joy that arises from accomplishing small tasks or taking small steps toward an ultimate goal. Part of the problem is our “now” culture—who has time for baby steps? We have to have it “now”—the new home, the promotion, the car, the successful business. It all boils down to a lack of patience. But if you’re not patient, how do you expect to hear from Him (Psalm 46:10)? If you can’t be still, then you won’t know or recognize the people and events that God has chosen to play a role in your journey nor will you be ready for them.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says there’s a time for every purpose. God chooses the appointed time (Psalm 75). Until then, be faithful in small things (Luke 16:10). Maybe you’ll need to write 500 queries before an editor likes your pitch. Or make 500 sales calls before you get the order. I once heard a story about a salesman who got excited each time a potential client declined his offer because he knew then that he was that much closer to the one who would accept it. Whatever your case may be, have a childlike trust in the journey. Then, as Luke teaches, you’ll be entrusted with bigger things along the way.

Hope Springs Internal

By Linda Tancs

What is hope? Dictionaries define hope as a belief that something is attainable. Biblically, we can define it as trusting, leaning on and relying on God to deliver us in every situation (Psalm 25:2). Hope begins on the inside with an expectation that God will provide whatever we need, both externally and internally.

So what happens when we lose hope? Proverbs 13:12 says that hope deferred makes the heart sick. Unlike deferred compensation in the business realm (which will get to you eventually), deferred hope is a loss of expectation, a state of despair. Despair provokes the attitude that it’s useless to hope for a better tomorrow.

Innumerable situations are ripe for producing despair, like the loss of property from a natural disaster, long-term unemployment, domestic abuse and chronic health conditions. How do you rekindle hope when you’re hurting? Romans 15:13 reminds us that God is our source of hope. When you place your faith and trust in Him, then the Holy Spirit works in you to restore hope.

Let go and let God. That’s what Job did. A man of exemplary faith, he never lost hope in God despite traumatic loss of his family, wealth and health. His persevering faith was rewarded in the end with a restoration of his fortunes. And, in the end, (like Job) the fulfillment of your hope will be a tree of life as promised in Proverbs, mending your heart, mind, body and spirit.

Just for Today

By Linda Tancs

For tomorrow I cannot pray. Cover me with thy shadow just for today.—St. Therese of Lisieux

There is a Dear Abby column that has often inaugurated each new year called Just For Today. It’s a list of things you can try to do, even if it’s just for today: things like being optimistic, living in the moment, taking care of your health, taking action, being agreeable, being happy and improving your mind. Try it. Start your own list of affirmations, beginning each one with “just for today.”

That column is the perfect reminder that it’s the moment that counts, just as the Bible instructs. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:34). Who knows what tomorrow will bring (James 4:14)? Jesus taught His followers to ask for their “daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). It’s a matter of trusting Him, one day at a time.

If you focus on today, then before you know it, you’ll have many todays behind you and be well on your way to developing better habits, but you need to look at what is—and move from there. As one of my favorite sayings goes, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift—that’s why we call it ‘the present’.”

Living the Life You’ve Imagined

By Linda Tancs

Are you living the life you’ve imagined? If not, why? Is it lack of courage—or encouragement? First Thessalonians 5:11 exhorts us to encourage each other and build each other up. Let’s face it, though; it’s easy to play it safe. But as the expression goes: no guts, no glory. Take a look at the excuses you use to keep from realizing your dreams. I’m too old (or young)I don’t like riskMy family would never approve. I don’t have enough money. I don’t have enough influence. It’s all been done before. I’m not that talented. What excuses do you make? We all have hopes and aspirations. The next time you contemplate yours, be very conscious of the excuses that creep into your thoughts. Chances are, you haven’t given them much thought or even accepted them as excuses because they’ve become so much a part of your daily thought process. Or you may have “inherited” one or more of your favorite excuses from a potentially well-intentioned friend or family member. However, excuses derive their power from you—and only you. God’s Word gives you the power to banish them. As Ephesians 4:23 says, renew your attitude.

Renewal requires you to challenge your excuses. Sure, many folks will say, “It’s not an excuse; it’s actually a fact.” Take, for example, I’m too old. How can you be sure of the truth of this statement? Like a detective, seek the evidence that bears it out. In other words, be sure to separate facts from feelings. Do your homework. How many others with aspirations like yours accomplished their goals at the same age—or even older? In New Jersey, a 96-year-old woman obtained her high school diploma. Look for stories on your topic on the internet, in business journals, blogs, social networks and so on. Only after you’ve exhausted your fact-finding mission and found no evidence to refute your excuse should you even think about accepting it as a cold, hard fact. If that’s the case, then consider whether your statement is really more a reflection of your own lack of desire to accomplish something. Are you striving towards your own dream or trying to achieve something for someone else?

There’s no need to waste time with excuses based on someone else’s agenda or your own actual (rather than conjured) limitations. In all other cases, continue to think big and look for inspiration. Remove the word can’t from your vocabulary (Philippians 4:13). As the writer Frank Scully once remarked, “Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?”