So, I got out of bed this morning and headed toward the closet for my workout clothes. I grabbed what I needed and begin to put on the socks first. Except, in my sleepiness, I had not removed my pajamas, including socks for my cold feet! Although there hasn’t been much restorative sleep in my house as of late (my husband had the flu for 6 days and nights), in my grogginess I realized if I do not take off the old habits and put on the new ones in Christ, it is like putting lipstick on a pig! The pig is still a pig. Christ told us in Luke 9:23: Jesus said to all of his followers, “If you truly desire to be my disciple, you must disown your life completely, embrace my ‘cross’ as your own, and surrender to my ways.” (TPT)
What does disowning my life look like? Is it abandoning my family and giving away all my possessions? ABSOLUTELY NOT! I must evaluate all aspects of my life and purge any part that is contradictory to a Christ filled and led life. Personally, I am being convicted of the many distractions keeping me from focusing on Him. One of my favorite hobbies is putting together jigsaw puzzles. I had the app on my tablet and completed at least one puzzle per day. Notice, I used “had”. One day as I am about to open the app, I felt a nudging to delete it! WHAT? Are you sure? Deleting the app would delete all the puzzles I have added and the list of completed puzzles! Longing to be obedient to the Lord, I deleted the app. I still enjoy puzzling, but I am sticking to the tactile version on a table. In the puzzling vein, I am a bit of a wordsmith and enjoy playing and watching word games. Sometimes this “love” inserts itself before quiet time with God, before reading Scripture. My need for focus trumps my need for puzzles and games. I have found when I put those things behind me and study God’s Word, listen to praise music, or pour myself into a book study, I do not feel deprived of anything. In fact, I feel the opposite. My spiritual cup is filled and overflows.
What’s that? I’m talking about minor things not sinful habits to shed? Then, let’s get real. In our culture, it is common to speak damaging words regarding others. This can be viewed as venting or telling the facts. Matthew 15:18 But what comes out of your mouth reveals the core of your heart. (TPT) This verse has been nagging me for a few weeks. Just last evening, I was caught up in speaking poorly regarding a contractor who lives in my neighborhood. It was not my intention to make others think less of him. Or so I thought. In reality, I gave in to the peer pressure to agree with someone else’s assessment. To truly follow Christ’s example, I must refrain from even thinking disparaging thoughts about someone else! This world is deeply broken and humans disappoint other humans. If by God’s grace I can see the other human as God sees them, I can see the good person created in God’s image. I am far from perfect and have disappointed others on too many occasions to count! I would hope for God’s grace to cover my inadequacies. 2 Cor.5:17-19 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (NASB) (emphasis mine)
Father, thank you for revealing distractions in my life! May I be obedient to Your nudging and remove distractions. Please keep one hand on my shoulder and one hand over my mouth to keep me from mouthing off. May I remember You are the God of reconciliation and You see me as Your child, perfectly loved. Amen. lg
Ps. 40:3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord. (NASB)
Somedays it seems that the world is full of more darkness than Light. Recently, I read that if I focus on the Light in the world and the good things people do, I will be less influenced by the darkness. I equate this to the “junk in, junk out” philosophy. When I continually, focus on the dark it becomes overwhelming. My attitude deteriorates. My mood becomes cloudy. When I notice the kindness of others, the beauty of nature, the smile of my grandson, the many blessings God has given, my attitude becomes lighter. My outlook reflects this with gratitude.
One recent afternoon, my attitude was flushed down the toilet (so to speak). Initially, I was unaware of the change. But, God gently nudged my inner being. Thankfully, not with the iron skillet I deserve! He was waiting for me to reach out to Him. To readjust my focus to the Light, the Word. We were created for union with Him. Each human is searching for Him. When we do not commune with Him, we seek other ways of satisfaction and are disappointed when it doesn’t work. We must look to God first. I know I fail at this more than I’d like to admit.
My prayer for each of us: Father, thank You for Your Manual of Life! Help us not to give in to distraction. Gently, guide us back to Your Word, Your Truth. May we begin each day with praise for the many blessings You provide.
Matthew 6:33-34 (TPT) “So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly.Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”
I have been an impatient person (probably) my whole life. Many are the times God uses situations to teach me patience. Just when I think I’m mellowing-at least some-I find a new circumstance stirring my impatience pot. I put on blinders, pretending I’m not frustrated or angered, but the reality is I get stressed. God wants me to learn (and relearn) patience and understanding. As were the Israelites, I, too, am quite stubborn, pig-headed, hyper-focused, wanting things my way and in my time frame.
This is a new life season for me. Waiting for the birth of the first grandchild. Waiting. Waiting. WAITING!!!!! Past the due date, one day, two days, three days, four days…every day and every night asking for God to set the systems to go. This precious miracle of life I am longing to hold in my arms. It’s so very exciting and exhilarating! Can you understand why I am impatient? However, the expectations I have for the timing of this event have been overruled by Abba (Father). It’s a good thing He doesn’t ask my permission on these matters!
One year ago, I wasn’t sure whether my eyes would heal from hemorrhages or if I would ever drive again. (Look back to 8/24/15 entry for hiking blog beginning.) I think I had more patience then. But others may disagree. I knew regardless of the outcome, I would still live a full life albeit with some minor inconveniences. With an otherwise miraculous recovery, my God story was forming, getting ready for the telling. I was content to walk through the season of healing, sharing my miracle, drawing nearer to God.
Fast forward to celebrating life and the blessings a child brings to a family. Unable to drive, my daughter needed someone to be with her during the day. I am blessed to have the flexibility to drop my schedule to help her. That’s what moms do. It’s been two weeks. She has shown many signals that labor is not far away. Still, no birth.
God’s message is to enjoy every moment. Live in the now. Not the then or the yet to be. Don’t wish away life. Sometimes I am so focused on the next phase, I lose sight of the current phase. I need to embrace these days with my daughter. This time with her will never be back. Our dynamic will change as she takes on the role of mother and leaves daughter on the back burner. My prayer is that this will be a firm foundation for the changing relationship.
God’s plans are bigger and better than I can imagine. He only gives me enough vision for my current stage. I would want to jump ahead if I had the whole trip mapped out for me! He knows that too! He loves my daughter and grandson more than I do. He has perfect timing every time.
So, here I sit at her table, 500+ miles away from home. Thunderstorms rumbling the apartment. Lights flickering and lightning flashes. Waiting for labor to begin. Listening to raindrops on the roof and downspout.
Thank You, Father, for this step, for reminding me to not rush through life; for time to reflect and pray. Make me a blessing to someone everyday!
p.s. Hiking blog update coming soon.