In the book “Ordering Your Private Life” by Gordon MacDonald, he mentions that in life there are 2 worlds: Our public (outer) world and our private (inner) world.
The public world consists of work, school, play, acquaintances, possessions, and your social network.
- It is easy to evaluate – how much success we have, how popular we are, how much wealth we have, and how beautiful we are.
- It is expandable- it’s measurable and it’s visible
- It is manageable – it makes trains run on time, we can schedule it out, we can set a budget for it.
The private world is different. It can be largely unexplored but full of surprises, ambushes, emotions, and dreams. Our inner world requires reflection, confession, conviction, and truth. This is the realm of Bible.
Building our private world is more important than any other activity so that inner strength and spiritual vitality can become a resource for us to use at a moment’s notice.
Do I Have Internal Strength?
Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?”
Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?” They were in absolute awe, staggered. “Who is this, anyway?” they asked. “Wind and sea at his beck and call!”
Mark 4:36-41 (MSG)
Internal strength is necessary for us to handle the most stressful times in our life and prevent us from falling apart when the pressure gets too high.
How can you tell if you have internal strength? You are calm when storms hit. Everyone will have some storm in there life at different points in their lives. Storms can come in the form of a big test you are preparing for, a sporting competition, health challenges, marriage challenges, emotional health challenges, etc.
How do you handle storms when they happen in your life? Do you crumble under the pressure? Break down, turn to substances, get angry, blame other people? Or do you keep it cool and look to see how God is guiding you through it all?
When you learn to get the faith from God to keep your cool through the storm, you can teach other people how to get faith.
Can I Teach Cool?
The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.
Acts 12:6-7 (NIV)
Look at the situation Peter was in. He was in jail, facing trial before Herod, which more than likely meant he was going to receive the death penalty. How did he handle this stressful situation? He decided to take a nap!
Jesus had taught Peter how to have internal strength. Peter had listened and learned from the time they were on the boat, and it served him well when he needed it the most. Have you mastered the coolness that comes from having internal strength? If so, who can you pass it on to?
What happens to us if we don’t learn internal strength?
The Sinkhole Syndrome
What is the sinkhole syndrome? MacDonald describes the sinkhole syndrome as the collapse that comes when the inside is not able to support the outside. Its a good principle that can apply to our spiritual lives. Our natural gifts – charisma, mental brightness, organizational ability – can keep us going only for so long. There will inevitably come a time where our talents won’t be able to carry us any further and we have to rely on depth, spirituality, and resilience.
If we doen’t continually work on the inside, whatever strength we had will erode over time and we will become hollow. When we have an overdeveloped outside but an underdeveloped inside, we can’t handle what life brings us.
So how do I build internal strength? We need to focus on three areas:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV)
God will strengthen us with power through his Spirit in our inner being. The Holy Spirit works on the inside to make us strong, but we have to want it and be willing to accept it’s training. The spirit roots us in love. It helps us understand Gods love and shift our focus from man to God. When we are rooted in the understanding of God’s love, it gives us the courage to face hard truths about ourselves, to see our emotional weaknesses, and to confess our sins.
It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 (MSG)
Conviction is an unchangeable belief. It is rock solid and you can build on it. You are willing to pay a price for it and stand up for it in the face of any adversity. Convictions may not make you the most popular person, because you will often be going against the crowd. But conviction is about more than just getting people to like you; it’s about what kind of person are you becoming.
The Bible puts steel into our convictions. It makes us stronger. Soft convictions come when we let sin creep in and compromise us. This is why we need to confess and deal with sin daily so we don’t let it weaken us.
God will strengthen us by letting the Bible show us truth and making decisions to respond.
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”
Mark 1:16-17 (NIV)
Jesus was an amazing relationship builder. People just wanted to be around him. He was stimulating, he was captivating, he was intriguing, and he was connected. Jesus was someone who made the people around him better. He made them into people who would impact the world.
What do your friends say about you? Do you surround yourself with people of character?
One of the best decisions you can make in your life is to surround yourself with people who value internal strength. Make a decision today to surround yourself with people who can teach you internal strength so you can reach God’s destiny for your life.