You can do this...
As the sun broken through the blinds in my bedroom this morning I was reminded of the faithfulness of God. Each day you and I are permitted the freedom to live our lives, make our own choices and unfortunately from time to time, reap the gross harvest of other's poor choices. Far too often we pillow our heads at night in despair. As day turns into evening our emotions ramp up and our hearts become heavy with grief for the choices we've made, the suffering we must endure because of the choices of others or the seemingly unfair hand that we've been dealt in this life. Far too often we fall asleep feeling as though we are bobbing in a sea of hopelessness and despair.
Allow me to remind you of the words found in Psalm 118:24, "This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it." God is the source of the sun poking through your bedroom blinds this morning. He is the one who has brought breath to your lungs and given you the capacity to open your eyes this morning for at least one more go around. He has sustained your life for this day for a reason. You are not here by chance. You are here for a reason. For those reasons alone you can rejoice today. Make the most of this day. You are not alone. He is with you. You can do this. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.
Not so great example...
Lately I've been thinking about how I treat people. Now in my defense I'm never intentionally rude or mean it's just that some times I'm busy. Sometimes I've got a lot to do. Sometimes I'm trying to accomplish as much as I can for the Lord. Wait. What? Did I really think that thought? Unfortunately the answer is yes.
In my spiritual immaturity I sometimes get aggravated by and impatient with people who I feel don't fit into my current agenda. Crazy right?
If you're anything like me then you'll admit that you've been there too. You're in the midst of your daily flow, blowing through your to-do list and suddenly someone wants to stop you and chat about anything and everything that has nothing to do with anything on your list. Frustrating right?
To further solidify in your mind the depth of my spiritual immaturity I'll let you in on a few of my coping mechanisms. If you ever witness me doing one of these, feel free to slap me. As the "interruption" talks, I allow my eyes to wander back towards my computer screen in an effort to continue my previous task. I stand up as they speak to communicate my desire to end this conversation. In my most ridiculous moments, I simply end the phone call or the face to face conversation by clearly communicating through my body language or lack of verbal response that "I'm done with you". Classy right?
Not only is my response to these "interruptions" a poor example of how it looks like to treat another human, it's an even poorer example of what it means to be a Christ follower. How can I ignore the words of John 15:12 where Jesus says, "This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you." That seems pretty clear.
What about 1 John 4:20-21, "If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers." Again, pretty clear.
Here's the question I ask myself from time to time when it comes to following Jesus. Am I following everything He said? Sometimes it feels like I allow myself the liberty of exempting myself from certain Biblical commandments when I'm busy or when I'm tired or when I'm just not feeling it. I don't see anywhere in Scripture where that type of attitude towards the things of God is acceptable.
Here's my prayer: "God I pray that you would forgive me for this type of attitude and allow me to see every opportunity or as I call them, "interruptions" that come across my path in the same way that you see them. Give me your eyes, give me your ears, give me your patience. Grant me the ability to see people the way that you see people. Amen."
Be encouraged and keep moving forward.
I've been thinking a lot about meaning and purpose lately. These ideas play a huge role in the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly rhythm of our lives. When we feel like we have a purpose, we carry ourselves differently. Think of a trip to your local mall, if you're there to waste some time or just window shop your stride is more casual and relaxed. You look like you are in no particular hurry to get anywhere. On the other hand if your time is limited and you're on a mission, your pace quickens, you keep your head down and your focused on getting in and getting out as quickly as possible.
The same is true our purpose or lack of purpose in our everyday lives. When we lack purpose, our pace slows, we care less about things, we tend to wander aimlessly. Interestingly, there has been some research to suggest that purposefulness and meaning in our lives could be connected to diseases such as Alzheimer's. Ron Brafman in his book, "Succeeding When You're Supposed to Fail" says,
"Although we think of Alzheimer's as chiefly a biological disease that's governed by genetic facts, the level of meaningfulness in our lives plays an important role in determining whether we succomb to this illness."
He goes on to say,
"Regardless of gender and cultural background, the researchers found, meaning in life influences one's risk of developing Alzheimer's across the board."
Having seen first hand the devastation that Alzheimer's can cause I was struck by the suggestion that purpose and meaning in life could greatly reduce one's chances of developing this awful disease. While I'm not qualified to speak on a cognitive level I can say with confidence that God has planted a purpose in the heart of every man. Perhaps we have fallen prey to a spiritual Alzheimer's. We have forgotten why we were created. The memories of why we exist have slipped into the unattainable recesses of our minds. If that describes you, allow me to remind you of a few things.
You were created by God, for His purposes.
Implanted deep within you is a innate longing to accomplish.
You were wired to achieve.
I'm not speaking of accomplishment and achievement in the way that much our world describes it. I'm speaking of something greater. I'm speaking of something far more significant.
Paul reminds the church at Ephesus in Ephesians 2:10, "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
He says in Ephesians 3:20, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us..."
Don't buy into the lie that your life is pointless. Don't buy into the lie that your achievements or accomplishments are about money or status or rungs on the corporate ladder. You were made for an eternal purpose.
It's Sunday night and I love Sunday nights because they represent the launch of a new work week. It's a fresh start. It's a new beginning of sorts. I invite you to join me in making this next week a week of purposefulness and meaning. Not for your glory but for God's glory. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.
Have a better Friday...
Okay, what I am about to tell you isn't specific to Friday but since today is Friday, my statement still applies. Let me tell you how you can have not only a better Friday, but a better everyday. We'll call this my secret sauce, my 11 herbs and spices. Here's what I believe can make today and every other day of your life amazing:
Find what excites you and DO IT.
God has given you passions and abilities and gifts and talents. He has created you to accomplish something for His glory with the very thing that you love doing. Maybe for you that's being an engineer or a writer or a mom or a dad or a teacher or an HR rep. I've always been fascinated by how God has wired each of us with such specificity.
I might think that what excites you is ridiculous. You might think that what excites me is outrageous. God has wired each of us with something specific that we get to be excited about each and every day.
For example, every time I think about writing, speaking, sharing, or encouraging someone with the truth of God's Word, I get excited. I don't say that to pat myself on the back, I say that because to some of you reading this, the thought of standing up in front of a group of people and having to talk is mortifying. To some of you the thought of writing out your thoughts and posting them on the internet for anyone to read, judge and possibly criticize is terrifying...but those are the things that get me up in the morning.
In Jeremiah 18 we are given this "potter and clay" analogy. God's the potter, we're the clay and obviously the potter gets to decide what happens with the clay right? Think about this: It would be ridiculous for you to be frustrated that your dinner of steak and eggs doesn't fit inside one of your tea cups. Likewise it would be crazy for you to be angry because you spilled your beverage all over your lap because it rolled right off of your plate. Dinner would lose its excitement if that's how things worked because that's not what those items were created for. In the same way you were created for something specific and when you figure out what that is, go after it with everything you have inside.
Engineer your heart out.
Teach your socks off.
Mother the snot out of your kids.
HR the heck out of your company.
Serve coffee like a maniac.
Do what excites you for the glory of God. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.