Striving For Substance

Beba SchlottmannOther Writings Leave a Comment


There are days when I wake up and immediately know what kind of day I’m going to have.  I have a mental picture in my head of how the hours will unfold throughout the day and a pretty heavy ‘set on stone’ schedule of events that assures me, it will be a very predictable day.

Then there are those days that kind of sneak up on me and totally take me by surprise. It may be an unexpected phone call with bad news or a non-scheduled visit (annoying!), a sudden sickness, a spill on my dress, or a beggar right outside the bagel shop as I come out with the goods in hand (I know I have to give it away whether I want to or not) –those are all sudden-out of my control-change of plans and those unforeseen happenings can really throw a wrench into my perfectly planned day.  Can you relate?

When I am not in control of my schedule, I often get anxious and my mind begins to play games with my heart.  I have the same attitude when God’s plan for my life gets disrupted.  For whatever reason; I panic!  He tells me to trust and rather than take Him at His word, I panic and run.  At times, I even try to take things into my own hands and end up in worst shape.  Is so hard to follow a plan that’s full of mystery and wonder…right?

I have to be honest; faith is not one of my strongest qualities.  In fact every day I pray for God to mercifully increase my faith.  Funny thing is I have seen miracles happen right before my eyes, yet I frequently struggle to believe that those things that get disrupted in my life will have a positive outcome.  When I feel that way, I have to ask myself; “Beba, whose child are you?”  “Is your God bigger than this situation?” “Has He ever let you down?”.  Of course I always feel shameful I even doubted.  Is so easy to give in to worry and despair, though.

I recently heard a podcast by Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Dallas, TX.  The message was entitled; Shadows and Substance.  He made a statement that spoke to me deeply.  I will rephrase it to the best of my ability; “You cannot wrap your hands around shadows. You cannot wrap your heart around shadows; you have to trust in the promise and go for the substance.”

So many times, I get anxious when things don’t go the way I expected.  I cannot wrap my hands around the shadows, because shadows are not solid, they are only a reflection of a distant reality.  I need to trust and hang on to what’s real.  God is real! He is perfect and unshakable; unmovable and unchanging.  When things go awry as they often do, I need to remind myself that “the word became flesh, and dwelt among us…” He obviously understands my life and what I go through; He’s been there!

I find that the best way to encourage myself is through the word of God.  I could receive encouraging words from well-meaning friends and beautiful cards and even powerful messages from Godly people, but nothing has more substance than the word of God. You can take that to the bank!

Here are a few examples:

Unfavorable diagnosis

Shadow: There’s no hope

Substance:  1 Peter 2:24 New Life Version (NLV)24 He carried our sins in His own body when He died on a cross…His wounds have healed you!

Financial struggle

Shadow: We’re going to lose our home, etc…

Substance:   Matthew 6:26 New American Standard Bible (NASB) 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

Fight with my spouse, sibling,  or friend

Shadow: The relationship is broken and cannot be repair

Substance: Colossians 3:13-15 New Century Version (NCV) 13 Bear with each other, and forgive each other…Even more than all this, clothe yourself in love…15 Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking, because you were all called together in one body to have peace…

Trust issues

Shadow: God doesn’t seem to care, He is silent

Substance:  Isaiah 49:8 New Century Version (NCV)  8 This is what the Lord says: “At the right time I will hear your prayers.  On the day of salvation I will help you.  I will protect you… 

The list goes on and on, so let me close by saying; strive for substance.

The Apostle Paul would say;

Philippians 3:14 The Message (MSG) Focused on the Goal

 12-14I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

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