Are You in Your Own Way?
Author: Saleama A. Ruvalcaba, MATS
This article will take you 10 minutes to read.
Recently I was watching a learning video that asked us to think about “what if” questions. For example; what are we passionate about and “what if” the world experienced the things we are passionate about in their own lives? The lesson gave real life examples of successful people who had “what if” questions at one time in their lives and saw their “what if” questions turn into reality.
I tried to ponder my “what if”.
My preliminary “what if” is; “What if people truly cared about becoming faithful followers of Jesus Christ and truly valued and appreciated learning and growing?”
What type of potential would we bring forth in our lives if we lived as obedient followers of Jesus Christ, and took learning – always learning – seriously?
When I share with people today that I did not become a follower of Jesus Christ until age 31 – they seem surprised.
Why is that?
Not only did I not become a follower of Jesus Christ until age 31, I was totally oblivious. I knew nothing about the Bible, Jesus Christ dying for our sins, or repentance.
Not only that, when I tell people that I barely graduated high school and was spelling at a fourth grade level when I was 21-years-old – they again are surprised!
Why is that?
No, I was not your popular smart student who got all A’s and loved to be at school. Rather, I was shy, unassuming, dressed funny, lived in extreme poverty, and disliked school because I did not consider myself smart – at all. I did not have anyone to help me learn and understand my assignments so I did not enjoy being in school. My distain for school was extreme if I am being totally honest.
People are amazed when I share these stories with them.
Why is that?
I can only imagine that my passion to be an obedient follower of Jesus Christ and my passion to learn makes people assume it has always come natural to me, but that’s not true.
- Not having anyone who I felt truly loved me growing up – Jesus has become everything to me.
- Believing I was not smart growing up – today I value learning.
The Hard Road
Life is hard for everyone. Growing up life was very hard for me but I made a decision not to wallow in what didn’t work out for me. I have taken my inner resolve to become who God created me to be.
I am no different than the next person, however, some of us get in our own way!
John 5:5-9 “One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
In doing a study on this verse, the question Jesus asked might seem rhetorical, but Jesus knew that not every sick person wanted to be healed. ¹ Jesus knew this man was physically sick and also spiritually sick. The idea of being made whole was likely an impossible thought for this man. He had been in that condition so long all hope was lost.
Elephant vs. Humanity
A few years ago I watched a study on how animal trainers train elephants for the circus to stay inside their confined space. Elephants are chained by their legs with short very strong chains. The elephants desperately try to escape, pulling and pulling – until they finally give up. Once they have reached the point of hopelessness, a much smaller, longer chain, is placed around their ankle so they can walk comfortably in their space. As the elephants walk around their space, once they feel the nudge of the chain they simply turn around and go back the other way. The smaller chain can easily be ripped off by the much stronger elephant, however, because the elephant has reached the point of hopelessness – it doesn’t even try.
I could not believe my eyes watching it.
I could not believe a 5,000 pound elephant was walking around hopeless in a tiny space with a tiny chain on its ankle.
The elephant could easily escape its situation – but all hope is lost!
Unfortunately as human beings we are no different in many ways.
We blame the world for what has gone wrong in our lives. We blame our parents, our siblings, our boss, our friends, our spouse, our extended family, law enforcement, the government – and so on. Our blame game causes us to lose all hope in ourselves. We strap on our own chains and become despondent.
But the truth is we don’t have to live hopeless.
How can you accomplish growth in your life?
- Repent. (Acts 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”)
This may sound easy enough and you might be tempted to gloss over repent and move on. Reading a book by David Platt called, Follow Me, there are a lot of people who so call repent but do not have a true understanding of what it means to repent and follow Jesus Christ with all their heart, mind, and soul. Have you repented of your sins? If so, are you bearing fruit? Can you honestly say you are a different person today after repenting? Has Jesus Christ completely changed you from the inside out?
As a nonbeliever for 31 years of my life, I can assure you I did not bear any fruit of Jesus Christ. I had to repent and turn away from my sins, and you do too.
Have you repented?
Are people curious about Jesus Christ because of your walk with Him? Have you led others to Jesus Christ?
You will accomplish growth in your life when you repent- truly repent, of your sins and allow God to totally transform you.
- Believe (Acts 16:31, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.”)
Next you need to believe Jesus Christ is who He says He is. This is a tough one because it truly takes a lot to believe. To believe Jesus Christ is who He says He is we must have faith and trust Him as Lord and Savior in our lives. It’s not enough to believe in our minds only. We have to believe in faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He came to earth to die in our place. We have to believe through faith in Him and live as His followers. When we live as His followers, our lives will reflect it.
Everything about me changed when I believed. My life changed. What I watched on television changed. The type of music I listened to changed. The words I spoke changed. The way I treated my husband, friends, and family changed. The way I THOUGHT changed. People started coming to me to ask questions about Jesus. People started coming to me for advice and understanding about God.
How have you changed? Do you believe Jesus Christ is with you, guiding you, and ready to lead you to change?
You will accomplish growth in your life if you believe Jesus Christ is who He says He is. Your character will change.
- Receive (John 1:12, “But all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. )
To receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior is to allow Him to be Lord over your life. I will say it again; To receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior is to allow Him to be Lord over your life.
When I realized I was spelling at a fourth grade level in my early twenties, I bought books and taught myself how to spell. Today I am obviously much better at spelling but even though I have developed my grammar skills I still ask God to help me spell correctly. This might surprise you that I do this, but it shouldn’t. I believe Jesus Christ is Lord over ALL of my life – and thus, I pray and ask for His wisdom to always help me in an area where I was once very weak. I believe it is His will for me to continue to learn and grow in this area. I’ll stop what I am doing and look words up to ensure I am spelling them correctly. I’ll stop what I am doing to read definitions of words. I believe He gives me this wisdom to look for various ways to spell correctly because I trust Him with every aspect of my life. And the truth is I learn new words all the time when I allow His wisdom to guide me. I incorporate new words all the time into my vocabulary and writing.
Have you received Jesus Chris as Lord over your life – with even the simplest detail as that?
You will accomplish growth in your life when you receive Jesus Christ with faith like a child with humility and trust Him as Lord and Savior over ALL of your life.
Back to the Top
Back to my original question: “What if people truly cared about becoming faithful followers of Jesus Christ and truly valued and appreciated learning and growing?”
If you know me personally and you somehow have a misguided view of what you think life is like for me, I will remind you that I am no different than most people. The only difference is I have grabbed hold of Jesus Christ and I refuse to let Him go! I have grabbed hold of the value of learning and I refuse to let is go. With that combination I am excited about the growth God has done in me – for His purpose!
You can accomplish the same.
It’s completely and totally up to you.
It takes a lot of hard work and discipline to accomplish what God wants to accomplish in your life.
You might be able to accomplish a lot in your own power but your power will soon fall short!
I pray my ‘what if” question inspires many to live as disciples of Jesus Christ and to value learning.
What is your “what if” question?
How can you inspire others?
How can you help people accomplish growth in their lives?
Let God give you the answers!
~Saleama A. Ruvalcaba, MATS
¹ Blue Letter Bible