Have you ever felt there are things in your life that you continually fall short on? It seems like you get 7/8th the way there but never able to fully reach the target. This applies to making decisions, taking that first step and sometimes taking that last step to reach your goals. How long have you been telling yourself you need to start eating better and getting physically active? Over the past month, how many times have you told yourself and God that you are going to read your Bible more or get more involved in the community? One of my goals is to be a better father to my little girl, and I often say I am “trying” when in fact I should be doing.
There are two… maybe three primary barriers that can interfere with us reaching our goals. The first of which is faith – more precisely, lack of faith. Let me illustrate with a short story – A man fell off a cliff, and the only thing between him and his unfortunate death was a precarious tree branch from which he was hanging. He cried out “God, please help me!” God answered, “Have faith, and I will protect you. Let go of the branch.” The man, stunned, cried out, “Is there anyone else up there?”
Stumbling Block #1 – Lack of Faith
This story is humorous as well as true for so many of us. We back ourselves into a corner crying for help, and God tells us to make the hard decision and trust Him. Instead, our lack of faith and ego convinces us we can do better on our own.
Fortunately, we don’t require perfect faith. A little faith can have a big impact. You can stop falling short by having enough faith that keeps you coming back to Jesus. There are many stories in the Bible of people of faith; some had more than others. Mark 9:21-24 is a perfect example;
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” 23 “If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
If you consider this passage for a moment, the boy’s father has lived with his son for years this way. It is likely he reached out to many for help, even the disciples but no one was able to help. The emotional rollercoaster must have been hell, but as a parent, you will do anything for your child even if you have your doubts. As a father, I know that if there is the slightest chance of success I would be willing to try anything – leaving no rock unturned.
The boy’s father was telling Jesus that ‘yes’ he believes, but he has doubts too. How often do you pray that God increases your faith? I know it is a regular item on my prayer list. Increase your faith by asking for it and trusting in God. The only prayer that God can’t answer is the one you don’t ask.
Stumbling Block #2 – Perception of Inadequacy
Imagine running a 5k, and as you round your third mile, everyone begins to pass you. Thoughts of failure, being slow, finishing and everyone else being better, start running through your head. Eventually, you think, “What’s the point?” and give up. Okay, this may not happen in this exact circumstance, but how many of you have quit your diet program, stopped exercising or failed to give up smoking because of the perception of inadequacy. I know I have sabotaged my efforts countless times because of perceptions and fear. What happens when we reach our goals – then what? What if I try and fail? What if I can’t measure up to other’s expectations? There are some ways we can be our worst enemy. Take control of your stinkin thinkin, and you will close the falling short gap.
Stumbling Block #3 – Idols
I don’t want to say that we all have our idols, but I think we do. At least those of us that constantly fall short. I am guilty of trying to squeeze God in at the end of the day with a small ‘Thank You’ prayer as I fall asleep. There is only so much time in a day, and it is hard to get everything done, often the daily Bible reading gets pushed to the next day then the next… My work, wife, daughter, cat, health, etc. all demand my time. Just to clarify – idols are those things we put before God. I don’t’ want to say that I put others before God but in all honesty, I think I do. And I know that God wants me to put Him first, but many times I fall short.
Tip: Put God first in the morning by spending a few minutes reading the Bible and in prayer. You’ll be surprised how you can get everything on your ‘to do’ list done and the benefits of nourishing the Spirit.
Oswald Chambers says, “Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led. But it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading. It is a life of faith, not of understanding and reason – a life of knowing him who calls us to go.”