Every person I know has lived through some pretty tough challenges. So many stories, my own among them. And I bet you have stories, too. So, a question for you: when everything seems tumultuous, when you can’t see, or when you feel overwhelmed and tired, how do you get through tough times well? There’s help by exploring two ways to live.
In many countries, you choose how you’ll live. Subsequently, this includes –
- Character you practice
- Preference of friends
- Food you eat,
- How you spend your time
- And much more.
But one thing is the same for everyone – tough times. This is when normal choices don’t always help. So, in tough times, you need a selective choice that keeps you balanced, steady, and healthy as a person.
A Helpful Tool
Some years ago, I came across a helpful tool that changed how I think. And it’s become a “go to” resource called the Universes of Values Chart.*
This chart tool shows values of two ways to live. Knowing this information launches me forward in my walk with the Lord. Since this tool helps identify underlying issues, I share it with you as you navigate tough times.
Here’s the chart. And I will explain and explore how to use it below.
Explain and Explore
Sometimes tools look interesting, even really cool. However, they can be confusing and hard to use. This one is pretty basic, but “packs a punch.” When you apply the tool, it instantly helps you turn a different direction in tough times.
You’ll notice there are two “universes of values” represented in this tool. The Self-Centered Universe and the God-Centered Universe. Let’s start with the Self-Centered Universe.
Notice in the chart – the geometric shape of the Self-Centered Universe is a rectangle. So you can think of it this way. Rectangles have corners to back into and hide. Also, they have strong, straight lines – like walls. Arrows point inward, which communicates everything focuses on you and is coming toward you. In such scenarios, human instinct is to hide (corners) and raise up barriers (strong, straight lines).
- Physical – This is a self-centered, limited focus on the current situation you’re in.
- Temporal – Because this means “temporary,” it will eventually pass away.
- Kingdom of Darkness – This focuses on patterns that don’t promote health and godliness. And this is not God’s Kingdom.
- Kingdom of Death – This focus shuts down hope and progress toward better ways. And it’s also not God’s Kingdom.
- Visible / Sensory – The limiting factor is focus on what’s immediately seen or experienced.
- Apparent – The limiting factor is focus on things that “seem” a certain way but cannot be measured accurately.
- Law – Often, people feel guilty because they focus on law and function under bondage of performance.
- Bondage – Because you think you are locked you into your circumstances, you think there is no way of escape.
- Reactive – Since you work to preserve self at all costs, this kind of thinking limits your options.
- Views Self as Victim – Stuck here, you feel like a loser.
But you aren’t doomed to live this way. You can break out! Let’s look at some Scriptures this tool offers for intervention and helps to break out of the Self-Centered Universe.
Is. 53:6 says a way out of turmoil and hopelessness had been provided. And it says help is immediately available. “We all, like sheep, have gone astray. Each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all.”
Jesus knows people need help every day. We need salvation and forgiveness of sins. We need intervention. Further, we need encouragement, hope, and practical answers. That’s why all our brokenness and sin was put on Jesus on the cross. Because of this, you have a fresh start and can turn to God in every situation, even in tough times.
Have you chosen to break out and turn to God for help and hope in tough times?
Jas. 3:13-16 says, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, [from the enemy]. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”
Incidentally, this portion of Scripture shows the difference between godly wisdom and wisdom of the world. It tells how to live a godly, healthy life. Further, it tells what things tear you down, make tough times devastating, and to avoid those things.
How are you handling your tough times? Do you need God’s wisdom? He’s offering it.
Notice in the diagram above, the geometric shape of the God-Centered Universe – an oval. Subsequently, there are no corners to hide in. And there’s no place to stop and get tangled, to park with bad habits, or to engage downward-cycling thoughts. All the arrows point outward. So, this person is linked to a source of encouragement, good judgment, hope, and creative ideas. With deliberate intention, they focus on God’s faithfulness. Plus, they are a partner reaching to others as they trust God for their own needs.
- Spiritual – This is a God-centered focus on the unseen world.
- Eternal – The long-view in every issue – even tough times – is one that will last forever.
- Kingdom of Light – The focus here is on patterns that promote health and godliness, which is God’s Kingdom.
- Kingdom of Life – This focus chooses hope and progress toward better ways. This also is God’s Kingdom.
- Invisible / Faith – The empowering factor is a focus on the invisible, real world engaged by faith.
- True – This focuses on things as they are. And they can be measured accurately by implementing God’s Word.
- Grace – Forgiven and treated with undeserved merit, you can live inside God’s kindness, and enjoy His help.
- Liberty – Because God’s way is absolute freedom, you can enjoy life, explore knowing God, and enjoy creation. Even in tough times.
- Pro-active – Deliberately pursue God’s will without fear, knowing He is already in action for you.
- Views Self as Victor – You see yourself as a winner. As you cling to Jesus even in troubles, you discover hope. And you know you are safe in Christ who is working all things for your good.
Did you know this can be your reality? You can break in to the God-Centered Universe.
Deut. 6:1-7 says you can “break in” to this kind of living. Even in tough times, you can do what honors and pleases God “so you may enjoy long life.” (vs. 2) That sounds like a good deal.
Interestingly, it also says you can obey His teachings “so it may go well with you.” (v. 3)
And finally, this passage tells you to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength,” (v. 5) and to tell everyone in your life about God’s ways in every situation – even tough times.
2 Cor. 4:16-18 tells you not to lose heart in your troubles, despite all your hard work – even in tough times. As you pursue what is unseen and eternal rather than what is seen and temporary, something starts to change inside you. So, increasingly, you become like Jesus.
There is an invisible toggle switch between the two universes. As you flip the switch, you instantly change from the Self-centered to the God-centered Universe. It only takes a split-second, so, yes! You can do this.
Application Thoughts And Questions
To flip your switch and get from the Self-Centered Universe of values to the God-Centered Universe, ask yourself good questions. And, this provides the application for this content.
- Where are you right now on this universe chart?
- Since it only takes a split-second, why not flip your switch to God’s universe?
- What kind of help do you need in a tough time? And have you considered God’s help in every detail?
- Typically, in which universe do your thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions place you most often?
- What keeps you from breaking out of the Self-Centered Universe and breaking in to the God-Centered Universe?
- Why not turn to Jesus in your tough times? He loves you.
* REMEMBER – Holidays are coming quickly. Celebrate Advent: A Life-Response to Emmanuel is wonderful, devotional tool to use Dec. 1-31 to prepare for Christmas. Short, simple, meaningful. And content principles are “keepers” every day of the year. If you order now, you’ll be ready to use on Dec. 1. This book is our most-loved book. (paperback and ebook)
Another great Holiday Tool is Prepare For Christmas Without Missing It. This tool has helped people break out of holiday busyness and into hope and meaningful celebration. (ebook)
Both books make beautiful gifts. Check them out in our online store.
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* UNIVERSES OF VALUES CHART – is adapted from: McDougall, Colin. Models for Disciple-Makers. Robbinsville: Eternal Truth Ministries, 2002. Print.