I had an interesting phone conversation with a friend the other day. He was driving down the freeway (using his “hands-free” device, of course) when, all of a sudden, a large truck pulled out in front of him. “I can’t believe that truck pulled in front of me and blocked me in!” he exclaimed. I told him, “Isn’t that a metaphor of life? It seems like ‘life’ is a constant series of blocked goals!”
That might be a bit of an overstatement, but facing blocked goals is a reality we all live with. We all come across expectations that fail to be met, relationships that go haywire, circumstances that are trying, timelines that get sidetracked, and things that get broken or delayed at the most inopportune time.
And to a certain extent, our true spiritual character comes out when we face blocked goals such as these. When things are going well it’s easy to be spiritual, have a lot of faith and be disciplined in our priorities. But when our goals get blocked, it’s amazing how fast our spirituality flies out the window! In fact, many of us deal with extreme guilt because of the damage done by a fleshly reaction to a blocked goal (angry words, cursing, fighting, breaking things, addictive behaviors, etc.).
Surely Jesus wants us to live victoriously in spite of blocked goals. But how do we do it?
As one who has struggled with many blocked goals (and still learning) let me offer these thoughts. When immediately encountering a blocked goal, these things help me from reacting poorly:
1. Bite your tongue! Answer a blocked goal with silence, not with a vicious reaction. Although not every blocked goal is caused by Satan (like some would like to think), the evil one does use block goals to cause us to stumble. Don’t let Satan get your goat; keep silent. James 3 tells us that our tongues can cause “forest fires”; we need to keep them under control. (See wholelifeworship blog on 3/4/13)
2. Take a few deep breaths and pray. Regroup yourself before determining your next step. Taking deep breaths cause your body and soul to pause. Prayer allows the Lord to enter your moment. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”
3. Call on a trusted brother or sister and share your struggle with them. Finding a safe place to share your frustration gets the “steam” out. Keeping our struggles inside of us will only cause damage later on. Galatians 6:2 tells us to “carry each others burdens and fulfill the law of Christ.”
4. Reflect on the larger picture. Blocked goals are not necessarily bad. In fact they often reveal deeper issues that the Lord wants to work on in our lives. These include: impatience, not living for God’s will, unhealthy performance orientation, relational dysfunction, lack of compassion toward others, unresolved anger, materialism, and people pleasing, to name a few.
God may be trying to get your attention through a blocked goal. It is important to get beyond the disappointment in the blocked goal and see the larger picture. When frustrated I often ask myself, “What is God trying to tell me through this?” In some ways, God uses blocked goals (the Bible calls them “trials”) to do a greater work of transformation in our lives. Your proper response to a blocked goal today can translate into a greater abundant, Christ-filled life tomorrow.
Instead of letting our blocked goals be stumbling blocks to sin, God wants us to use them as stepping-stones to a righteous and truly free life. As we choose the path of Whole Life Worship of God in our everyday ordinary situations, like blocked goals, we see more and more of how God uses everything for the good to those who love Him.