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In Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda challenges Luke Skywalker, “you must complete the training.” Yoda knew that Luke wasn’t ready yet to face his ultimate trial in a fight against Darth Vader.
How are you doing in your battle against the evil spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:12)? To reach a place of confidence in overcoming life problems, you must complete your training.
God’s school for persevering and winning against evil is called “life.” To complete the transformative journey, you must pass through four steps.
Step 1 Training: Overcome Resistance
Luke works for his Aunt and Uncle but isn’t happy as a farmer. He feels duty-bound to help them so he refuses to leave them. His hope to join the academy remains an unfulfilled dream. He is out of place. He isn’t pursuing his calling.
What is blocking you from attaining your dreams? In what ways are you resisting God’s call to adventure in your life? Step one’s purpose is to increase your level of frustration with your current life so much that you are willing to risk making a change. It is characterized by:
- Pride that covers the pain of your life.
- Believing lies such as “what others want for me is more important than what I want or what God wants for me.”
- Resisting God’s call to spiritual growth.
- Attempting to cope to remain self-sufficient.
Too much pride will destroy you.Proverbs 16:18 CEV
By the time you finish step one, you are ready to seek the help of a counselor.
Step 2 Training: Commit To Recovery
Luke meets his mentor, Obi-Wan, and agrees to go with him to Alderaan. He learns he has other allies (Han, Chewbacca, Princess Leia) as well as enemies (Darth Vader and the empire). But he and his friends face a huge setback when Alderaan is destroyed.
What setbacks have brought further discouragement into your life, just when you decided to get help? Instead of turning back to your old ways, commit to your emotional recovery. Step two’s purpose is to solidify your reason why you want to pursue change. It is characterized by:
- Being humbled enough to be willing to seek help.
- Being willing to consider how the truth applies to your life.
- Accepting God as good–that He has a plan worth following.
- Acknowledging your problems and dysfunctional behaviors.
Too much pride can put you to shame.Proverbs 11:2 CEV
It’s wiser to be humble.
By the time you finish step two, you have uncovered so much pain that you have no choice but to rely on God and other allies.
Step 3 Training: Learn To Trust
Luke fights his way out of the death star with Princess Leia but loses Obi-Wan. He struggles for his freedom only to experience greater suffering with the loss of his mentor.
I see Obi-Wan’s sacrifice and pronouncement that he will become even more powerful as similar to Christ being crucified and becoming more powerful as someone who has defeated death.
What painful memories continue to hold you back from pursuing your dreams? Instead of running from challenges, face them and be transformed by them. Find out what is most important to you. Step three’s purpose is to shift your focus onto how powerful God is and how positive your life is. It is characterized by:
- Being vulnerable so you can receive the emotional healing you need.
- Confronting the lies you believe with the truth so can freely move forward in life.
- Accepting suffering as unavoidable at times and even beneficial.
- Realizing that God is worthy of your trust.
The Lord’s people may suffer a lot,Psalm 34:19 CEV
but he will always bring them safely through.
Even David went through years of training while defending his sheep from bears and other beasts (1 Samuel 17:34-37). By the time you finish step three, your training has prepared you to face the Goliath-sized problems.
Step 4 Training: Walk By Faith
Luke joins the rebels, trusts his mentor’s guidance, and destroys the death star. He is no longer self-sufficient. He is trusting in a power greater than himself. He becomes a hero that can inspire others.
What Goliath-sized problem is looming large over your life? How has God proven Himself faithful to you? Look for the opportunities to prove your training has accomplished its purpose. Step four’s purpose is to test your faith as you fulfill your God-planned destiny. It is characterized by:
- Confidence in your ability to face problems with God’s help.
- Embracing the truth to overcome doubts and other spiritual attacks.
- Resisting evil by not giving it any room to thrive.
- Faithful dependence on God for strength.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.Psalm 46:1-2 NIV
Therefore we will not fear.
By the time you finish step four, your journey is complete. You are ready to help others if they want help with their struggles. You can also identify new problems and start the journey again for yourself. Or, maybe you are like Luke and didn’t finish your training the first time around. That’s okay. With God, it’s never too late to start on a journey of transformation. Future posts will cover each of the four steps in greater detail.
Sometimes a mentor can be a person like a counselor. But a mentor can also be a process like the ones in any of my books. Try either of those if you feel unhappy with where you are in life and want some help to complete your training so you can overcome the big problem in your life.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.