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Persevering Through the Messy Middle

“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.” (Matthew 7:13-14, The Message)

“Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.” –Steven Pressfield in The War of Art

Most of us have an idea of the kind of person we hope to become. Especially as followers of Jesus Christ, we envision a life of faithfulness and devotion that would make Jesus proud to call us one of his own. Then real life happens, and we find ourselves struggling to remain faithful amidst the pressures of holding a job, raising a family, being a good citizen, keeping our commitments as a church member, and growing in our relationship with God. It isn’t easy juggling all these responsibilities and making time to nurture our relationship with God—we’re too stressed out and tired. We often just go through the motions, and before we know it, we’re muddling our way through life, faking being faithful, and wishing we could do better. Here’s the good news—we can do better! It still won’t be easy, but developing perseverance in our faith is possible.

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus describes our tendency to look for shortcuts to the life we want. (Speaking of shortcuts, if you want the executive summary of Jesus’ teachings, you can read chapters 5 through 7 in the book of Matthew—it covers practically everything he thought was important about how to live the Christian life!) There is no shortage of people who want to sell you marketable, easy pathways to the life you’ve always wanted. Don’t buy it! The word “easy” is totally unrelated to a “meaningful life.” Living a life worth living requires commitment, effort, hard work, resilience, disappointment with others, and perseverance. It also involves relying on others, receiving the support and love of mentors and friends, and trusting that God is at work in everything that happens. A life that matters involves compassion, understanding, patience, and sometimes sacrifice. As you can see, following Jesus can be messy along the way, but it’s worth it.

This Sunday, I’m continuing our series on “Reset,” and I’m teaching about persevering through the messy middle. To get to the life we want requires staying faithful even when we want to quit. But there are steps we can take that will sustain us through the difficult days and help us move one more step closer to the life we want to live. I hope to see you Sunday and be sure to bring a friend! — Senior Pastor Rev. Dale Cohen

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