I'm in a tough season. It's not a season of emergency or heart-wrenching tragedy, but it is a time of higher-than-normal stress. A lot is going on around me. and I have very little control over most of it. I must step back, and I must trust God. While I wait for His timing and His answers, I continue to work on those things He's given me to do. Some days, this is harder than others. ~ How do you thrive when the world around you twirls and swirls? ~ Where do you find the strength to get out of bed when you'd rather throw the covers over your head and hide? ~ How can you lovingly and patiently serve others when you just want someone to put everything around you right again? What would . . . no, what did Jesus do?
How much do you pray? Okay, before anyone gives up on this post or journies into a guilt trip where I don't intend to lead you, let's all admit that we could all pray more. We could (and probably should) seek God more. But that's not my intent in asking the question. Instead, I want to consider the why behind our actual tendency and discipline. Why don't we pray more?
How important is the Bible to you? That's not a trick question. Well, okay. Maybe it is. The Typical Christian Answer Most of us would say the Bible is very important, right? After all, it's God's word to us. His instructions on how to live. The story of our family and heritage. Encouragement for tough circumstances. Inspiration to persevere. Hope for the future. So, back to my original question. How important is the Bible to you? Are you sure?
Most people older than ten have faced some sort of tragedy. Some of us experienced horror younger than that. A car accident or house fire The death of a loved one Parental divorce Abuse, neglect, or abandonment The list of bad things goes on and on. Yet we know that God redeems. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 61:3 that He exchanges beauty for ashes, or as the Contemporary English Version writes, The Lord has sent me to comfort those who mourn, especially in Jerusalem. He sent me to give them flowers in place of their sorrow, olive oil in place of tears, and joyous praise in place of broken hearts. But how do we get from broken hearts to joyous praise?
A recent conversation among friends on Facebook recently got me thinking. Consider the original question: "How many articles of clothing (not including underwear, workout items, and pajamas) do you think you need? How many do you own? No condemnation...just a question." Does the question make you squirm? Is your closet overflowing? Do you have more than one closet full of clothes? Maybe clothes aren't your thing. Maybe it's jewelry. Or books. Or kitchen gadgets. Or collectible knick knacks. Or trips to the beach or the mountains. The basic question remains the same: How much is enough?
How kind are you? Seriously ... on a scale of one to ten, where would you rate your kindness level? How often do you show appreciation? Are you gracious to others? Do you practice patience or speak compliments? Does the Golden Rule echo in your actions? Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Matthew 7:12, The Message Would your family or coworkers give you the same rating as you are giving yourself? Hmmm.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, lived a young man named Solomon. He showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David (1 Kings 3:3). Now, he wasn't perfect Now, he wasn't perfect. In fact, immediately after telling us that Solomon walked according to his father's instructions, it also says that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. A big no-no. Yet God honored his heart, coming to Solomon one night and saying, Ask for whatever you want me to give you (1 Kings 3:5). Can you imagine? How do you find wisdom?
When your world is falling apart, what do you do? I mean really, don't-know-if-you-can-breathe, falling apart. My gut reaction is to isolate and hibernate. I stay off social media and email, I don't leave my house or even answer my door. Chores may get done if they are critical, but otherwise, I tend to even ignore them. I'll likely function enough to offer the most basic care for my family, but by and large, I want to do nothing. The problem with this tendency is that it encourages greater negativity, increases mopiness, and generally demoralizes my already depressed mental state. Want proof my reaction is universal? (And the keys to coming out of it without serious intervention?)
For some reason, our neighborhood is popular with door-to-door salesmen and religious visitors. Vacuum cleaner salesmen, college kids peddling magazines or books, Jehovah's Witnesses. About once a month, someone is knocking on our door. About once a month, I want to hide behind the curtains and pretend I'm not home. Sometimes I do. Good thing the peephole in my door doesn't work like a window. A Door Knocker in the Bible Did you know that a verse in the Bible mentions Jesus knocking on a door?
Last week I talked about God getting quiet, and three questions you can ask yourself to help clarify whether you missed something. But what if you've done everything right? What if you heard God say to do this thing, you obeyed His request, and it's left you sitting in a hard place? A dry place? An uncomfortable place? Now what do you do? I'll warn you: The answer probably isn't what you want to hear. 3 Possibilities to Consider ...