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Faith Focus: What success in life actually looks like

Since Christmas, I’ve been on a quest to become healthier. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m getting older and need to take better care of myself. I started watching what I’m eating and exercising. I began learning what fuels my body efficiently.

And it was making a difference. For the first time in years, I can run three miles. I’ve lost some weight. My energy has gone up. To top it off, I’m feeling better about myself.

Until this week. What a week it’s been. I went out of town and worked some long days. I’ve been doing some projects at night. My children are extremely busy with activities. My wife got sick. The sewer line in my house got backed up. Stress was rampant.

I made a bad eating decision. Or five days of them. I haven’t had time to exercise. My health quest has taken a step back. I feel defeated.

Whether we’re thinking about the journey to physical, financial, academic or even spiritual health, we often believe there should be a linear progression of improvement. When we learn how to save money, we put together a plan and set out to save a certain amount each month. If I study enough for a test, I should pass it.

Progress doesn’t always work that way. We’re human. Even the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. King David committed numerous sins. Even Peter was rebuked by Jesus.

When obstacles are thrown at us, we respond differently. Sometimes we make good decisions. Sometimes we revert to past patterns of behavior. Often we do it without thinking.

Take many of the families Buckner serves through our Family Hope Centers. They participate in Faith and Finance classes where they learn how to create a budget and save money. Then they set out to succeed. They’re doing well. For the first time, they have money in their savings account. Then their car breaks down. They can’t get to work without their car, so they fix it. It drains their account. They have to start over.

This week, someone you know is starting over with God. Maybe it’s you. Fortunately for all of us, God’s grace abounds. He forgives us for our errors. His mercies are new each day.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. -1 Timothy 12-17

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