How do you keep the problems of life from derailing you?


The question above is one we hear a lot from First Place members and leaders across the country. They are doing well when all of a sudden, a curve ball comes their way. Before they know it, they are down in the dirt and unable to get up and back into the game.

Yesterday, I was given the opportunity to walk out the answer to this question. It was Tuesday and I led my First Place class. We are doing the First Place Bible study, A New Creation, and went over Week Four in class about “Recognizing Your Obstacles.” Class was over when Pat walks into my office and says, “Well, you got all the mail today.” I turned around and the first piece of mail I opened contained a letter with some disturbing news. All at once, I was shocked and saddened and thrown into what could have been a spiral downward. I shut down my computer and made my way home where I could make sense of the news I had received.

I didn’t sleep well last night, because every time I wakened, I wished it was time to get up so that I could seek God’s wisdom about the problem. Some of you might be asking why I didn’t do that last night when I got home. Well, I am a morning person and I am definitely not my best at night; I also don’t receive God’s best for me unless I am rested.

Here are some things God showed me when I showed up in my favorite chair this morning. As I climbed into my Abba’s (Daddy’s) lap, He started asking me some questions about the situation at hand.

  1. What is the truth?
    Jeremiah 29:11 and Psalm 139 tells me that God knows me and loves me and that His plans for me are good. If I stay in the Word, give Christ first place and stay close to Him, He will help me when I face difficult times. Praise God, my memory verse this week was Isaiah 41:13, For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.”
  2. What is the lie? 
    Everything that does not line up with the truth of God’s Word is a lie. The devil is a liar and the father of lies. 1Peter 5:8 says, Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Another lie from the enemy is that we need to fight when in a difficult situation.  Wasn’t I glad that my new memory verse for Week 5 is Deuteronomy 20:4, For the Lord Your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.
  3. Can you get My perspective on this? 
    This morning, I read the entire book of James in The Message Bible. I got God’s perspective on my problem when I read James 1:2, Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.  Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
  4. Will you thank Me in the middle of this trial?
    As I began thanking God, I realized how blessed I really am.  That letter only had power over me if I allowed it. I thanked God that Johnny’s CT Scan and Bone Scan came back with “nothing significant.” What a huge blessing for a man who has lived almost 10 years with stage 4 prostate cancer. I thanked Him for my health and that I didn’t turn to food during this crisis. I thanked Him for allowing me to lose another two pounds since our Spa Week.

When I opened my computer this morning, I had the most wonderful e-mail from one of the ladies who attended our Spa Week in South Carolina. It totally says it all on what the First Place ministry is about, and why I feel so privileged that God invited me to join Him in this awesome work. As you read the e-mail, notice that this lady’s life still has problems, but her perspective has changed!

“I have made lots of the recipes from Spa week—the lasagna, Mexican Chicken, bean salad, strawberry freeze, brownie delight…I can’t remember all of them so far. Last week, I sat down with the recipes and made a grocery list. When I went to the store, it took me a couple of hours to find everything on the list. I wasn’t used to shopping for those low fat and other ingredients. I have lots of fresh fruit and veggies in the fridge. I have made the bean salad twice!! I think I have lost another 5 pounds since getting home. I have grown to really like the no-fat/no-sugar instant puddings with no-fat whipped topping. I am eating much less bread and not missing it. I can’t tell you enough times the blessings I received and am still receiving from my week in South Carolina. I concentrated on the mental/emotional/spiritual subjects and praying during my personal time. God sure knew what he was doing by having me do that. I returned home to chaos in my son and daughter-in-law’s home. We could use prayers as they started counseling today. Praise God. I am looking forward to seeing you all in July.”

Praying you stay on track,

Carole Lewis
First Place National Director

Carole was a member of the original First Place group that began in 1981, and became the national director of the program in 1987.

When Carole attended the First Place orientation in March of 1981, she eagerly anticipated what God might want to do in her life. She had recently seen an old friend that looked great and who reminded her that they were soon approaching 40 years old. Carole determined she did not want to be “fat and 40.” She joined First Place and soon lost 20 pounds. Learning how to bring balance to her life, she became a First Place leader to motivate others to achieve this goal.

Carole is a popular speaker and author of the books, Choosing to Change, First Place, Today Is the First Day, Back on Track and Begin Again. Carole regularly leads Conferences, FOCUS Weeks, Workshops and seminars across the country in the areas of personal balance, fitness, encouragement and temperament analysis. Her audiences know her as warm, honest and humorous.