This past year I and some others on our staff team took a personality inventory. When I got the results back it described me as an 'idealist'. As I thought about that I realized that is a very true description of me, as I am always thinking up ideas and dreaming about how things could be. One of my favorite things to do is to participate in a brain storming session where the goal is to generate lots of ideas.
As you can imagine, people like me go crazy when it comes to New Year's resolutions. In minutes I can generate multiple pages of all of the ways I am going to change and how this year is going to be different than the last year. As I look at the pages I am filled with hope and excitement. Unfortunately, there is this one little thing that tends to stifle all of these grandiose ideas....it's called the 'real' world. Life doesn't happen in a vacuum but happens in a world that is constantly changing and unpredictable.
So on a daily basis I feel discouragement coming at me like a tenacious pit bull wanting to suck the wind out of my sails. I enter the day with idealist expectations and through the course of interruptions, fatigue, lack of support, problems, and unforseen events my idea of how things were going to go ends up being dashed to pieces.
So what do I do? I heard a pastor recently ask the question, 'what is the opposite of discouragement?' His answer was......'determination.' This is a powerful word for me because it's a good thing to have ideas and a vision for how things could be....it's what motivates us. Determination is that powerful internal force supplied by God's Spirit that keeps us going when we've been knocked down and gives us an even greater tenacity than the pit bull of reality.
In closing, let's receive this word from 2 Corinthians 4 today that says, '8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don't give up and quit. 9 We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.'