Life may be hard sometimes, but it really isn’t as complicated as we make it out to be. The race for bigger-better-faster-more is never-ending and exhausting. It drains us of energy and robs us of joy. But the life of love yields visible fruit and gives us energy and joy. We will never regret investing ourselves in what really matters–the relationships God has placed in our lives. And when we choose to do less and love more, we’ll find that we actually end up accomplishing more-–not more activity but more of what lasts for eternity. The fulfillment we seek in so many ways can only be found when we slow down, refocus and decide to simply love.
Wanting to live your life in the will of God can, at times, bring things to a standstill. We struggle to understand the will of God and so we often spend lots of time agonizing over what to do in our lives. Where is my passion? What is my calling? What should I do next? How do I decided which path to take in my career, my ministry, my family? When nothing seems clear, it’s easy to stop moving and wait for the fog to lift.
The problem is, that reaction is counter-productive to the goal we are trying to reach. You see, it’s a lot easier to direct a moving object than it is to direct one that is standing still. I’m not saying that we should seek the will of God. But I am saying that in many, many situations we should make the best choice we can and be open to God’s leading us another way as we go.
I’ll give you an example that many of my readers should understand because they’ve lived it out in the Flourish Women’s ministry. Every year since 2007, I’ve had a theme for the year. It’s really easy to second guess myself and not be 100% sure the one I’ve picked is the right one. I read, study and pray and come up with something I feel God is directing us to. But to be honest, I don’t ever know for certain that it’s the right choice.
But as I begin to move forward, God refines and redraws the vision into something that only he can work out. As I begin moving forward, he directs. Sometimes he changes direction and we move into something new halfway through the year. Other times we do the exact theme I planned all year, but God brings about things I never intended or anticipated. I am always amazed at what God does, but I never start out for that finished project. I just start moving in a direction that looks right and feels right and then keep my heart open to how God might steer things as I move.
This is doing the Lord’s Will in a nutshell. Don’t sit around inactive waiting for a game plan. Do your research, pray about it, seek counsel if necessary, but then move forward and see what happens. Don’t hold your plans so tightly that God can’t tweak them or change them entirely. But don’t stop moving and wait for him to move. It’s much easier to steer an object in motion.
[This originally appeared at flourishministry.com on 10/8/13]
I spend a few moments every morning reading the news. I have the CNN and USAtoday apps on my phone and I read the headlines and any articles that interest me. This morning I read a few articles and started feeling this anxious, sick feeling in my stomach. The news isn’t very cheery lately and there’s plenty to worry about in this world.
I had to take a few moments and remind myself of some things it’s really easy to forget. And because you might forget them to, I guess we could all benefit from a reminder…
- Nothing that happens in the world is a surprise to God.
- God is in the business of taking catastrophes and evil and turning them into blessings and opportunities. He’s done this all throughout history and he hasn’t stopped in our day.
- I am a child of God and nothing will touch me that isn’t allowed by my Father in heaven. And if he allows it, he has a plan and will walk with me through it.
- Safety is only an illusion. I am not in control and my best efforts to find security will always be temporary and insufficient. My safety and security, and all my hope, is found in Christ alone.
If you worry about all that is going on in our world, if the problems seem big and the solutions seem elusive, if anxiety is burning a hole in your stomach today, print that list out and post it on the fridge. We all need to be reminded from time to time.
[Originally posed at flourishministry.com on 1/24/13]
We all face a lot of critics. It is the rare person indeed who has only friends nearby. Most all of us go through life with a bunch of friends and bunch of critics. I am no exception. That’s why I was very encouraged by a comment that Brene Brown made in her Leadership Summit session on how she handles critics. I’ve pasted it here in her own words from her book, Daring Greatly.
I only accept and pay attention to feedback from people who are also in the arena. If you’re occasionally getting your butt kicked as you respond, and if you’re also figuring out how to stay open to feedback without getting pummeled by insults, I’m more likely to pay attention to your thoughts about my work. If, on the other hand, you’re not helping, contributing, or wrestling with your own gremlins, I’m not at all interested in your commentary. (Brown, Brene (2012-09-11). Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (p. 171). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition)
I found that very helpful. If you are “in the battle” of working hard, living outside your comfort zone and trying to make a contribution for the Kingdom of God in a positive, healthy way, I can handle the criticism. But far too many critics are sitting on the sidelines, daring nothing of value and expecting the world to cater to their wishes and needs. Evaluating “who” said it is just as important as evaluating “what” they said. I want to hear from those engaged in the battle side by side with me. The ones on the sidelines are not in my radar anymore.
[This post originally appeared at flourishministry.com on 11/12/13]
I was reading 1 Samuel 8 recently and found it interesting that the same attitudes and desires of the Israelites in this chapter are the same attitudes and desires we struggle with today. In this chapter, the people are worried about the future. Samuel’s sons aren’t following God and caring for his people the way Samuel did. The Israelites are tired of depending on these judges and prophets for leadership. They want a king. Samuel takes this request to God and gets permission to choose a king, but at a cost. The people will find themselves slave to a king and powerless against him. But they insist that’s exactly what they want.
I see several attitudes at work in this passage that you probably recognize in your own life from time to time:
1. The arrogance to assume you know better than God. The nation was created to be a Theocracy, dependent on God alone to rule them and care for them. They felt God’s way wasn’t working for them so they decided to follow their own plan.
2. The arrogance to think that God’s provision and protection wasn’t reliable. They worried that Samuel’s sons weren’t up to the challenge to leading them. And they may have been right. But to go against the plan of God and make up their own plan to meet their needs was dishonoring to God. It assumes that he would have no other way to care for them if Samuel’s sons didn’t. It assumed that he was unaware or uncaring of the future.
3. The arrogance to think that the way the world around them operated was better than God’s way. They wanted a king because that’s what the other nations had. They didn’t want to be different or stand out. They wanted to blend in, to be like the others.
4. The arrogance to think that you can pick and choose your own consequences. Samuel repeated God’s message of warning to them that a king would be costly. But they choose to pursue a king anyway, thinking that those consequences wouldn’t affect them. It’s human nature to think that “it will never happen to me” and that we can alter the natural consequences of the world.
All of these arrogant attitudes are really idolatry; setting our own opinions, wants or desires as more important than God’s. It’s the same old sin Adam and Eve committed in the Garden and we’ve been falling for it ever since.
[This originally posted at flourishministry.com on 10/11/13]