In baseball three strikes means you are out! When you are out, you lose your turn, your team suffers and you feel alone and defeated. You walk away embarrassed and sad. This type of tragedy happens to all our little ones when they began T-ball. You feel compassion for them as they are trying to comprehend why they must return to the dugout and learn the “rules” of the game. We as parents usually respond with encouragement and a pat on the back with the “next time” you will do better. I have also seen parents yell at their children with high expectations or what they did wrong followed by criticizing their lack of ability in the sport and demanding perfectionism. We teach our children how to develop their relationship styles in every day activities even if we don’t realize it. As children get older and their experiences leaving them feel embarrassed, sad or distraught, their actions portray how they interact in relationships as an adult from past experiences. I used this example of T-Ball because I had four sons who played and I remember watching with pride as my boys learned the ups and downs of sports. No one likes to strike out, we all want to hit a home run or at least get on base.
When trouble strikes, we will do one of two things. We will run to God or we will run away from God. In times of trouble, God can seem far away but He never is. It doesn’t matter how many times we strike out, God is always there not to discourage us but to revive us to keep on playing not throw us out of the game. God is always near and He wants us to know that. He wants us to feel His embrace and to feel secure in Him. Often when we feel distressed or hurt, what we do usually portrays the real self and your relationship with God. Do you turn inward and try to be self-sufficient? Do you rely on those you love to pull you through with encouragement or do you go to God in prayer and His Word? Sometimes we do all three hoping to obtain eternal peace or answers to our predicament. Our relationship on God satisfies all the conditions of a healthy, secure relationship IF we allow it to happen. We should seek to get closer to Him in times of trouble or distress. He is our refuge, our place of safety and our place of shelter. We should seek Him for security in good times or bad. He alone is what gives us boldness, confidence and strength. Separation from Him produces anxiety and fear for today and the future. These feelings are followed by grief, confusion and sorrow. I have also seen people when things are going great, life is good, children are perfect, and marriage on surface is good however they forget about serving God in all of this peaceful outward setting. They only run to God when a crisis occurs and see God has only a way of help. Although this is a good start it doesn’t form a healthy spiritual relationship with God. Being self-reliable only leaves you feeling superficial happy yet internally empty.
We must realize God should be our first priority. He should be our first choice for guidance, for direction, for security and for safety. When we look to Him first our lives become properly ordered. Putting God first doesn’t mean we need God and no one else, because He puts people in our lives to develop healthy relationships.
When you are under stress what do you do? Do you express anger at God for allowing this circumstance to happen to you? Do you self medicate your pain by pursuing sinful habits? I have seen some people come to God, live for God for a while then when a stressful situation arises they return to the same lifestyle just to “cope” with life.
When under stress are you consumed by self-incrimination and excessive self-blame for losses? Do you turn to things like success and addictive behavior? Do you feel like you need a relationship with the opposite sex bouncing to relationship to relationship? Do you get depressed if the person you depend upon can’t feel those needs?
When under stress do you view life a crisis and continuation of chaos? Do you see God as a way of causing the personal tragedy or something you deserve? Anxiety, worry and panic attacks happen because of fear and internal pain.
Do you trust God in every situation in your life? Do you realize everything we may go through God is there with us ready to give us love, mercy and forgiveness? Do you run to God for comfort and know He is accessible, trustworthy and dependable?
What I have described above is four different relationship styles. The styles are formed at a very early in life between parent and child. Under stressful times however the parent responds will lay the groundwork for how children respond to God in the future. Whatever your style your parent portrayed is the style you probably portray to your child. Your children are mini replicas of you. As parents or grandparents we have a responsibility to show our children and others that anyone can change to depend upon God, put Him first in our lives and receive the faith to put things under His control. We don’t have to wait until chaos strikes to run to God because if He is with us through it all we will already have peace.
When we find ourselves more open to a relationship with God we will be motivated to seek His presence. There is no amount of self-help books; advice or relationships that will accomplish what God can do in a moment. We must learn to seek God in refuge and comfort in times of stress and normal day-to-day living. Don’t wait till trouble strikes to run to Jesus Christ, find Him today and lean upon Him for abundant living and peace of mind. You have the ability to get on base and score the winning point when you trust God to be your coach in this game called life. You will win when you are on His team!
James 4:8 Come near to God and He will come near to you.
Acts 17:27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
Proverbs 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.