God Asks Us to be Intolerant
Many of us are settling for the sidelines of life—we don’t really want the Lord to give us anything too hard to do.
I love to snow ski. Well, I used to love to snow ski, when I had extra time and money and fewer responsibilities in life. I grew up in the Midwest, and every year my youth group would charter a bus and go skiing for three days, and my older brother and I would go almost every year.
After learning the basics, and with a few years of practice, I convinced myself that I was ready to tackle a challenge. In Colorado the slopes marked with black diamonds are the most advanced (and life-threatening) trails at a ski resort. Black diamonds are for the most elite skiers on the hill. Or, in my case, the most overconfident.
So I decided this was the year of Lisa and the black diamond slope! I’ve always enjoyed challenges, but there was another motive behind my desire to ski this slope. Anyone who skied a black diamond slope received a free, black T-shirt with the words No Fear on it in bold letters. I wanted that T-shirt. It was a big deal, especially when you are in tenth grade and trying to be popular.
I announced my decision to my friends. My guy friends were especially thrilled that their prissy friend with pin nails and Aqua-Netted hair was going to do something gutsy for once. They gladly escorted me to the chairlift. Up we went, and went, and went. I found myself wondering, a) if this elevation was even legal, and b) if there was any other way down.
We finally got to our destination at the very, very top of the mountain. And this girl with “no fear” was starting to get just a tad bit fearful. But I wanted to save face and meet the challenge and get that free T-shirt. So I played it cool; I positioned my goggles, pulled down my hat, took a hard gulp and let gravity do its thing. Can I tell you that, other than the dreams in which I arrive at church with just my underwear on, I have never had such a feeling of horror in my whole life? I think on the way down I simultaneously felt like I broke a hip, lost my voice, took 10 years off my life, and wet my pants! I just knew I was going to die, with no driver’s license, wearing braces, a virgin, with no chance of ever having a baby.
But in what seemed like no time at all, I ended up at the bottom in one piece. Or should I say, one pile. I did it! I became the proud owner of a black T-shirt that said No Fear. Not only that, but I also gained a challenging and motivating experience in life.
No fear. No pain, no gain. The greater the risk, the greater the reward. We’ve heard all these slogans at one time or another. But what do they mean? And in particular, what do they mean to us as Christian women?
God asks us to be intolerant of mediocrity in our life. How does that look in real life? Mediocrity is living the status quo. It’s playing it safe. It’s settling. It’s patronizing ourselves. It’s excusing ourselves. It’s fearing something so much that we are willing to never experience it and all its benefits in exchange for the safe comfort we already know. And as women, we have the tendency to relish our comfort zones.
Settling for safe can be sinful. Consider these verses. Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Love the Lord with all your soul and with all your strength” (my emphasis). We are told in 1 Corinthians 10:31 to “do all things for the glory of God.” In Revelation 3:15-16, Jesus addresses the church at Laodicea and says: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
This doesn’t mean you should live your life recklessly, but it does mean that our mediocre ho-hum attitudes can hinder us in our walk with the Lord.
A few years ago my husband faced a personal challenge of his own by running in the New York City Marathon. I left our only child at the time with his grandparents and went with Scott to cheer him on. The New York City Marathon is known not only for its great athletes but also for its camaraderie, as the entire city comes out to support the runners.
On that cold November day I settled into my place behind the ropes and cleared my throat to prepare for my cheerleader role. I saw young people, old people, skinny people, very skinny people, heavy people, different nationalities—a true melting pot of people participating. Watching them I suddenly realized a great irony: though I came to cheer them on, instead of inspiring them, they were inspiring me. But it didn’t stop there. I saw another group of runners who took me to the next level of inspiration. People with missing arms and legs, running or at the least walking to the finish line with everyone else. If anyone had an excuse not to run a marathon, this was the group. But they were out there, in the mix.
At that moment I felt like such an unmotivated person. Here I was, a woman in her twenties, with maybe a few pounds to lose but generally healthy, with all my limbs, and I had never even thought about doing such a difficult thing. I was settling into my comfortable position on the sidelines, and that was just fine with me.
Many of us are settling for the sidelines of life. We like our life the way it is, and we don’t really want to mess it up. We don’t really want the Lord to give us anything too hard to do. It’s hard for many of us to even be willing to make time for nurturing our own spiritual walk through personal Bible study, much less spread the gospel and tell others about Christ’s love, sacrifice, and forgiveness. But I firmly believe that our mediocre attitude towards areas like witnessing displeases the Lord and can cause us to have sin in our lives.
Women, our love for God and our desire to do His will should be enough to motivate us to get out of our comfort zones and ski the black diamonds of life. For Christian women, mediocrity is not an option. Living a life of mediocrity will cause us to miss out on the great things God has for us to experience.
Titus 3:14 says this, “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.” He asks us not to tolerate the status quo. Because not tolerating mediocrity, not taking the easy road, rocking that boat a little bit, will help us to not only live fuller and more meaningful lives, but also to fulfill His will for us while we are here on this earth.
Titus 3:14 says this, “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.” God does not ask us to live unproductive lives. He asks us not to tolerate the status quo. Because not tolerating mediocrity, not taking the easy road, rocking that boat a little bit, will help us to not only live fuller and more meaningful lives, but also to fulfill His will for us while we are here on this earth.
On the black diamond slopes of life
My dear grandmother passed away in 2004. She was such a unique woman. In her way she skied the black diamonds of life. She was always giving people money, even though she was not a wealthy woman; in fact, she earned her living for almost 30 years in a department store, selling clothes. She was a woman with a bold witness. During her funeral, the family she left behind was deeply touched by the stories her friends, co-workers, and neighbors lined up to tell about her, how, in some way, Ernestine Reimer had touched their lives. My uncle shared a story about my grandmother I hadn’t heard before. Here’s what he said:
Mother was such a pure heart. She was a woman of great determination and faith, truly led by the Holy Spirit. One day I was sitting in my office and the phone rang. It was mother. She said, “Son, I need you to do a favor for me.”
“Sure, Mom,” I said.
She said, “I need you to take me to the hospital to see someone. I met him at the department store and sold him some clothes. He’s sick and he’s in the hospital and I need to go to him.”
“Sure, Mom, when do you want to go?” I asked.
And she said, “God told me to go right now.”
So my uncle drove across town in the busy Houston traffic, picked her up and drove her to the hospital. When they got to the person’s room, they saw a shriveled up, sickly man dying of AIDS. He was alone. No family. No friends around him. Just the sound of the monitors and the smell of death. He was sweating profusely, and my dear grandmother went immediately to his side. She called the nurse and requested some ice and damp towels. And she began to serve this man she had just barely met by wiping down his broken body. And some time later, she turned to my uncle and said, “Wade, will you pray with him? He needs God.” So my Uncle Wade took this man’s hand and prayed with him and explained to him about God and His love, and in that moment, Christ came to live inside his heart, and he was saved. And several hours later, the man went to be with his Lord.
My dear and godly grandmother knew that she had to do what God had asked her to do when He asked her to do it. And she was obedient to His call; skiing the black diamonds of life. Tolerating others. Enduring difficult circumstances. Being intolerant of sin.
Adapted from The 7 Hardest Things God Asks a Woman to Do by Kathie Reimer and Lisa Whittle. Published by Shepherd Press. Copyright ©2007 by Kathie Reimer and Lisa Whittle. Used with permission.