by: Justin Usiak
The last few months of my life has been very … let’s just say confusing. If you took a sheet of paper and wrote out all the amazing things happening in my life you would run out of lines. From the outside looking in, I have been truly blessed. I mean that God has answered so many prayers in such obvious ways that there is no denying Who is in control. Now that I’m thinking about all that God has done recently—I’m literally getting overwhelmed.
What has been confusing is that the last few months have been some of the hardest months I’ve ever faced as a Christian. I’ve felt like I’ve been in a slump. In the morning it feels like I have to climb a mountain to get out of bed. I haven’t had the motivation to go to the gym before work and have struggled with getting there. I’ve found my studies have been blah. Every day I study God’s Word, counsel and disciple men, run a general contracting company, spend time with my wife and daughter, and go to the gym. These are daily things that I’ve always found so much joy in, but they have recently become empty monotonous tasks.
I’ve found that I’ve constantly had to battle offense and disunity with the closest people in my life. Even though God has been moving in so many obvious ways and confirming the place that He has me, I’ve found myself glorifying the thought of finding another job. Finding another community, just wanting something else. What in the world is going on here? My life is amazing and I am so discontent. I have never faced this in my walk with Christ. It seems as if “depression” has started to invade my life.
Last week I had enough. I prayed and prayed and pleaded with God to expose anything in my heart that offends Him. It’s been a weird spiritual and emotional rollercoaster, but God is faithful. I found a common theme in my studies and prayers this past week, in the sermon my pastor preached, in the leadership summit I attended—all within a five-day period I probably read and heard this verse ten times. Hebrews 12:1-17.
In verse one we read lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely and run with endurance the race that is set before us. The question is how? Which is answered in verse two, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, for the Joy that was set before him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. I’ve read this verse many times, but this past week the Lord has used it to answer my prayer. He has shown me that I’ve become consumed by the horizontal.
In the middle of verse two it says for the Joy set before Him, He endured the Cross. The joy set before Him was His ascension. His exaltation—seated at the right hand of the throne of God. This reminded me of Luke 9:51 that says with His eyes fixed on His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem. Jesus knew what He was going to have to endure. He knew the pain that He was going to face. He knew the betrayal and the deceit He would receive from the closest of people. He knew the temptation He would face. Most of all Jesus knew He would be dying on the cross and taking on the sin of mankind, for that moment being separated from the Father. So why did Jesus continue going to Jerusalem knowing what He was going to face? You see Jesus did not focus on everything that He was going to face (the horizontal). Jesus focused on His ascension. He focused on the joy that was set before Him. The Joy of fulfilling His fathers will. The joy of spending eternity seated at the right hand of the father. Jesus was focused on his Father’s will. He was focused on eternity (the vertical).
Sometimes in life we find ourselves getting easily distracted by the things of this world. We become consumed by relationships, ministry, work, business, family, and everything else around us. Especially in the culture we live in. It’s really easy to get distracted. It’s really easy to start doing things for the glory of man rather than the glory of God.
God has shown me through this season that when my eyes are not fixed on Jesus. but rather consumed with the world, things get confusing.
Here is the progression: I find myself discontent, questioning God rather than trusting God. I get burned out on people. I lose passion and a motivation to serve the people around me. To put it simply, nothing is enough! I’m reminded of how my life was before I knew Christ. It’s at this point that confusion sets in.
The fact of the matter is that we do not serve a God of confusion. When our eyes are fixed on Him, we endure, we fight, we strive for peace, and for holiness. We take joy in trials, we are thankful for the very breath that God has given us. We don’t question God, we trust God. We do not grow weary, but we stand firm. We run with endurance, rather than fall with exhaustion.
God is so faithful and has reminded me to examine myself every day to see with what I’m consumed. You cannot be consumed with the things of this world (horizontal) and end up with a healthy relationship with God (vertical) but instead when we are consumed by God (vertical), we understand what He has called us to do in this world.
My name is Justin Usiak. I am a husband to Amanda Grace, a father to Everly Grace and a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was not always the case. I lived a very extreme, rebellious and sinful lifestyle in my teenage and young adult years that led me to a place of drug addiction, homeless, and depravity. The Lord drew me out of that darkness and changed my Heart. I came to a men’s discipleship program called the Mission house in Port Orchard Washington where God showed me who I was and why I was created. Today I have the privilege of serving as the Associate Director at the Mission House. By God’s grace my beautiful family and I get to reflect the Glory of the Almighty God and point people to the only hope that I have…my Savior, Christ Jesus. Praise Him!!!
Contact Info: themissionhouse.info or Justinusiak.firstname.lastname@example.org