10 Ways to Find True North
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2011 9 Sep
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Gary & Lisa Heim's book True North: Choosing God in the Frustrations of Life (Kregel Publications, 2011).
Jesus warned that trouble is inevitable in this fallen world. From illnesses and injuries to relationship conflicts and job stress, it’s natural for the trouble that hits you to make you feel frustrated. But when you feel frustrated, do you stay in that place? If so, you’ll find yourself stuck dealing with negative attitudes and desperate, unsuccessful attempts to control people and situations.
There’s a better option. Jesus also said that He has overcome the world’s troubles. If you respond to frustration with faith in Jesus, you can overcome it, too. Here’s how:
Understand what’s at stake. Your choice to either surrender to frustration or work to overcome it with faith matters a lot. It affects how deeply you worship God, how close you grow to Him, and how accurately you show other people what faith in action looks like.
Remember that God has purposes for the pain you go through. Every time you suffer pain, you have a choice to make: Will you groan and grumble about it, or will you trust God to lead you through it and teach you something valuable in the process? Ask God to give you the faith you need to help you trust Him to bring about good purposes from even the worst circumstances in your life. In the midst of pain, remind yourself that God’s love is enough to sustain you, no matter what happens. Intentionally view your life through the lens of God’s purposes, which are greater than any frustrating situation you can encounter.
Look in the right place to get your needs met. Rather than putting pressure on fallen people to meet your needs for love and respect and getting frustrated when they fail to do so enough, turn to God for the love and respect you need. Make a habit of honestly expressing your painful thoughts and feelings to God in prayer, and accepting the healing peace that He offers you. Derive your sense of love and respect from the reality that God loves you completely and unconditionally, and He makes you worthy of respect as His beloved child.
Identify what unmet desires are behind your grumbling. Whenever you catch yourself grumbling about how frustrated you are, stop and ask yourself what you want in that moment that you’re not getting. Then consider how grumbling about your lack of whatever it is causes negative attitudes such as anxiety, envy, anger, shame, and pride in your life.
Understand how you try to grasp for control when you feel frustrated. Figure out when you’re most tempted to manipulate people and situations to try to get what you want out of them: Is it when you feel small, weak, alone, needy, or inadequate? Then figure out how you may be using power, performance, punishment, possessions, or pleasures to try to manipulate others. Once you identify your patterns of control, pray for the Holy Spirit to humble you so you can see how pointless it is to grasp for control, and be motivated to trust God instead to provide what’s best for you.
Pray for grace. Humbly confess your struggles with doubts, confusion, and discouragement to God in prayer. Then ask God to give you a fresh vision of who He is – one that will motivate you to draw closer to Him. Make pursuing a closer relationship with God your top priority above all other pursuits. When you do, you’ll gradually discover why God is all you need, and how you can find true fulfillment reliably through your relationship with God. Even though the people and things of this world can fail you; God will never let you down.
Accept the great gift of your identity in Christ. Stand against the lies that this fallen world tries to tell you – that you’re undesirable or even worthless – by embracing your true identity as God’s child, fully loved and forgiven because of your relationship with Jesus Christ. Ask God to help you see yourself as He sees you so you can recognize how valuable you really are. Then you’ll be free to simply be yourself rather than wasting time and energy trying to impress other people and becoming frustrated when your efforts fail. Read God’s promises to you in the Bible often, and pray regularly for the Holy Spirit to renew your mind so you can think about your life from right perspective.
Grow in gratitude. Train yourself to notice many of the specific blessings that God is constantly pouring into your life, and when you do, thank God for them. Let the good gifts direct your attention to the Giver, and remind you that you can always count on God’s love for you. Decide to seek God for who He is (rather than what He can give you), and look to God alone to provide your security and significance.
Let God’s love flow through you into other people’s lives. An important part of thanking God for the ways that He has empowered you to overcome frustration with faith is responding to His call to serve other people. Every day, ask God to show you who He wants you to help or encourage, and how He wants you to do so. Then act on God’s guidance – communicating kind words to people, praying for them, forgiving them when they sin against you, and helping to meet their practical needs.
Continue to grow. Write down the story of the most important ways that God has worked in your life so far, and share it with some trusted friends. Listen to them share their stories, and then pray for each other as you all seek to grow closer to God. Every day, try to become more like the person God wants you to become – with character traits that reflect Jesus’ strong character. Mentor other believers whenever God leads you to do so. Going forward, when you encounter frustrating circumstances, meet them with the stronger faith you have now, and have confidence that you will overcome them.
Adapted from True North: Choosing God in the Frustrations of Life, copyright 2011 by Gary and Lisa Heim. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Mich., http://kregel.com/.
Gary Heim is pastor of Small Groups and Discipleship at Blythefield Hills Baptist Church in Rockford, Michigan; an adjunct professor at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary; and a retreat and seminar speaker. He is a limited-licensed psychologist in Michigan, where he had a private counseling practice for more than 10 years and was a staff counselor for RBC Ministries. Married to Lisa for more than 25 years with two college-age children, Gary enjoys hunting, fly fishing, and backpacking.
Lisa Heim (MA, Grace Theological Seminary) is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Michigan where she has had a private practice for the last 20 years. Lisa has been married to Gary for more than 25 years, and together they are the proud parents of two college-age children. In her spare time Lisa enjoys reading, walking, kayaking, home decorating, and gardening.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/). Contact Whitney at: firstname.lastname@example.org send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.
Publication date: September 21, 2011