“A certain time…A certain place…a certain plan…” this was the formula recommended by my preacher in a sermon a few weeks ago. These are his personal “keys” for how to enter into a worship time with God. Yes, he is a preacher…right? It is his job to spend time in prayer and study of the Word. He should have a relationship with God because that is what he does. But guess what… that is what we are made to do too. What we do to make a living should be secondary to what we do to make a life… and without the joy and peace that comes through spending time with God… having an intimate, knowing relationship with God… what is any of the rest worth? Without looking to God as our model for how to love and for how to have compassion and for how to forgive, how can we stand to be around anybody including ourselves? If we were made to love God and in turn to love each other, shouldn’t we try intentionally to give God more than the “dregs” of our day? What do we spend all of our time and our energy and our attention on? How much of it is spent Praising God? or interceding in prayer for someone who needs to be lifted up for a blessing? or in a state of gratefulness and Thanksgiving for all of our gifts and blessings? How much of our day do we spend frustrated or hurried or angry over having to wait in a line or on the phone…or put out because of all the tedious tasks that must be done just to maintain a balance and not slip into chaos. Don’t we spend so much of our energy and attention trying to do instead of just be?
Don’t get me wrong…it is extremely important to do…to get things done. But there is a difference between doing things because they are an obligation and a necessity or doing as a product of our desire to be God’s hands and feet. It is different to” do” so that God and others will not be angry with us, instead of to “do” to bring joy to God and to others.
I have been guilty of giving God my “dregs”… of only seeking Him out of my need for help. We are weak. I am weak. I don’t know how many times I have made a plan… and started strong … committed to my change for the good… to exercise more or eat healthier or get involved in a group or write every day or start a business and make so much money that I can take my family anywhere anytime without batting an eye. For some people it might be a commitment to lose weight, or stop smoking or drink less. How often do we commit to read more books that inspire, or to study The Word, or to go to church or to just spend 10 minutes to pray.
Why do we fail? Why do I busy myself with things that can wait? Why am I eating a plate of peanut butter Ritz Bits, chocolate chips and a spoon full of creamy Jif… and coffee with milk and sugar? Why??? Because I like it and I can and my desire to eat what I like and what I always eat is greater than my desire to change. Without commitment in my head and heart I easily slip back into my old patterns…eat junk, work at nothing all day, go to bed late. Where was my time with God in that? Not only must I decide to be intentional, I must admit that I can not significantly change on my own. I can not give over my old ways if I continue to hold on to them… I can not give God my weakness, my failings, my past, my imperfections, my pain if I continue to hold on to them…we can’t both hold them… and He wants them… He wants to remove them from me… He wants to take them all and put them far away where I will never worry about them ever again. He wants to release me from the burdens that are too heavy for me to carry.
Sometimes I think that God lets us take on incredible burdens that are almost too much for us to bear so that we can tangibly feel the weight of trying to do it all alone…but that is only if we are VERY LUCKY. Some people never feel first hand the relief when we finally can’t stand it any longer and get to the breaking point where we have no choice but to give it to God. I think that one of the best things that can ever happen to a person’s faith and soul is to have just such a burden. We can hear about the experiences of others who were so weak and weary and desperate… so low that they were on their knees… and they called out to God for help, and He shows His compassion and says, “I was there all of the time… I have been waiting for your call…All you had to do was ask… all you ever have to do is ask. Ask and it shall be given. Seek and ye shall find.” It is a good story… unless you know it first hand… and then it is the BEST STORY EVER. We need help beyond our own will-power. We need help beyond our own strength. We need to keep God near to us… not just so that He knows what we want, but so that we know what He wants for us… because what He wants for us is way better than anything our limited minds can dream up. Why believe there is only a drop of water to quench our thirst when God has made lakes and streams and He has made them for us! Why do we buy the lie that God wants us not to have? He wants us to have all good things! Strawberries, chocolate, a breeze, the sun’s warmth, hugs, kisses…. and on and on forever.
Sure, we can talk to God when ever and where ever… but to MAKE CERTAIN that the day does not get away, we need to make an appointment with God… just like we would with our most important client, or our boss, or our guidance counselor or Major professor, or the people we want to make certain we get to hang out with or the person who we wanted to impress…or woo. If I were to make an appointment with a client or a prospect and failed to keep my appointment without a really good reason, it is likely that I would lose the business. If I failed to make it to the office to get my work done or to class to take a test or to the session I have scheduled to discuss what I need to take to graduate, I would likely be fired or fail. If I neglect to give sincere, honest, positive PRESENT attention and affection to a friend or lover I would likely find myself sad and alone.
It is good for us that God is not like we are… or like our clients or bosses or teachers or counselors or even our human favorites.
The view of the sky last night made me realize that I was going to keep my promise to myself and to God that I made a few days ago… that I was going to start writing again. I chose the date to begin as yesterday, October 1st…and I almost let that day slip away like so many before. But unlike so many other days, I did not go to bed until I started this blog. I did not go to sleep as my flesh tried to entice me to do. I kept my promise to myself and my appointment with God
I am happy that I have made a promise to start writing again. It feels like the right thing to do. It has been a really long time. Not only have I not been writing…on my novel and my blog… but I had removed the majority of my posts on this blog from public viewing. Yes, I had gotten some criticism for being so raw with my feelings and for posting my life, or laying it our bare, for the whole world to see. I did not have to take my articles down and I still believe that my words were not only cathartic and necessary for my growth and healing, but they helped a lot of other people too. My words over the past few years touched a chord with more people than I ever could have imagined. So many people seemed to be able to relate that it was a relief to know that I was not alone… but I was equally mortified to know that other people were dealing with similar situations and sometimes so much worse. My heart hurt for us all.
Now I hope that people can journey with me down another road…not one of hurt, but one of healing…not one of frustration for where I have been, or worry about where I am going, but one of thanksgiving for where I am.
I had stopped writing because I was in the process of moving… both figuratively and literally. . I was no longer there…no longer where my words held me on the page. the words were black on white with no shades of gray. Any reader would have every indication that I was still wrapped up in the old message, but I wasn’t. Words are immortal. They have a power of their own. Words can stir the soul and spur it into action or words can be stuck and stagnant and make the spirit shrink away. I was not stuck… and I was not content to stay held back. I decided to let go and let the current take me somewhere else. Now I have come through rapids, down and over heavy falls, been knocked into rocks, drug across the rocky bottom, choked, been unable to breathe, unable to see. I’ve gotten bumped and bruised and jostled… I’ve been trapped for long periods circling, dizzyingly in cess pools and eddies and been trapped barely moving in hidden coves. I have mistakenly tried to find solid footing over and over just to realize I am in over my head, or been cut by things unseen or be disgusted by the slime and the ooze accidentally found under the surface. But no matter. That is all in the past. I have arrived. At the water’s edge. I am high and dry up on a rock, close to the sky. Close to the clear blue sky.
The words that I wrote in the past were true and at the time they were written, they could not be contained. But just like with a move, the old, mismatched, tattered, broken and useless junk should be discarded and the things that will add enjoyment and pleasure should be retained. Anything that causes clutter or more work should be cleared away. All things made clean. Made new.
My old words no longer speak for me now… they also need to be made new.
Over the next few days the previous article published for the last couple of years will be revised and republished to represent where and who I am. I am no longer there. I am no longer “her t”. I am here. I am whole. I have moved beyond pain and frustration and searching… to a place of healing and hope and gratitude. I am looking at this day not only as the clichéd first day of the rest of my life, but my new day for my new life.
With intention, I planned to begin writing again yesterday because it was October 1, 2012. October is and always has been my favorite month. The number 12 always has been my favorite number and I never have been good at following or being forced to accept human-made rules… so I decided that there is no reason at all that October 1st can not be the beginning of my New Year. There may be no ball drop in New York, no party hats or champagne or noise makers or balloons or streamers…but I don’t care about all that anyway. When I walked my dog last night I knew that I would not go to bed until I started a new blog for a new year for a new life.
This was the scene: Picture a cool, windy, black October night… patches of rolling and shifting clouds dimming the glow of the moon….within seconds the moon is bright, fully visible… then quickly the moon is partially covered, obscured , a dim street light in a fog. For moments the moon is completely invisible… away, hidden, gone. But it is there.It is only hidden from where I am on the underside of the sky. It is not gone… in fact it is bright and clear and brilliant. It is not always obvious…it is not always noticeable… Perhaps I am looking down, too busy to even notice the beauty of it or too miserable to care…missing it simply because I am lost in my ownworld, my own thoughts. How I see it all has to do with my vantage point… with my perspective. Regardless of how I see it or whether I am looking, it is there. Constant. Unchanging. Down here on earth…in the atmosphere of Earth… distractions are obscuring… blowing and swirling and obstructing. What a perfect image for a New Life. It is all how we see it. Is it mostly cloudy or partly sunny? Do we make it simple …what should be simple…or do we complicate life because we don’t trust things to be simple? Do we say “thank you” for a free gift, or doubt that it is free… or feel guilty that we did not deserve it…or feel self-conscious we were not good enough or thoughtful enough to have been the ones to think of and to give such a good gift?
10% of life is circumstance…90% is attitude. Why do we kick ourselves for what we have failed to do? Or worry about what hasn’t happened yet?
We are robbing ourselves of today. We are letting the thief steal this moment. We are failing to live in faith. Fear and faith cannot reside together. Without faith there is not hope…there is no joy. With fear there is no peace. Our God tells us over and over and over “Fear Not”. “Do Not Be Afraid.” Why are we afraid? Why do we want to hold so tightly to things that steal our joy?
Unlike humans in our life that are quick to find our faults, come to judgement against us, and slow to forgive, God is not our client or prospect; God is not our boss or professor. God is not going to fire us or fail us or forsake us. We might deserve it, but no matter what we have done or what we will do we are already forgiven. There is nothing that we can do to earn God’s love or to lose God’s love. Like the sun, or the moon, or the Word, or Truth, God is constant. Nehemiah 9:17 says that God is full of mercy and compassion, and is slow to anger. We might be rolling, roiling, writhing, swirling or fading in and out like the clouds over the moon. We might come nearer or farther… we might stay firm for a while before we fall away… but God is not like that. He is unchanging. In this world we are taught to believe what we see… to doubt what we don’t see…to distrust what we can’t explain or understand. I did not always see the moon last night on my walk, but it was there just the same. I did not doubt its presence just because I was not in a position to see it. I was not always able to see the light shining because it was covered over by things of this world… but the light was shining just the same.
Joyce Meyer says, “God has made ample provisions for our failures, but our greatest failure, He can do nothing about. Why? Because our greatest failure is the failure to believe what He said. To believe is our part. He does all the rest, but it is our decision to choose life or death, believing or doubting, joy or misery.” I am going to choose life. I am going to begin today, forgetting the past and my pain and forgiving others and myself. I am going to choose believing because faith brings hope, but doubt brings fear and fear is not from God. And I am going to choose joy because I am so grateful and thankful and to be miserable is to be a stumbling block for others instead of a light. I was made to be a light. My world has a light…it is within me and all around me… constantly shining all the time whether I can see it or not.
I am going to strive to come together with God and with you at this blog…at a certain time – every morning; a certain place – right here on my computer; with a certain plan – to talk about life…and that doesn’t just mean being alive and going through the motions but being A LIFE. “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance. ” John 10:10. Jesus did not come for us to trudge through the day and bear all of the inconveniences and hardships and try to just not be miserable. Jesus came because God wants for us to ENJOY and to have joy in ABUNDANCE.
Philippians 3: 13, 14 says, “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” The heavenly prize does not have to start when we get to heaven. The heavenly prize can begin right now…The importance is not just to get to the end of the race… to a finish line where we will stop and be done. The important part is to “press on” to keep moving onward and upward…to be aware of every step and every opportunity along the path. It is not a speed race. It is not a 50 yard dash. It is a life run. We are not racing each other. The person who gets there first and fastest does not win the prize. There is not just one prize… not just one blue ribbon or one gold medal. We can all receive the prize. all we have to do is run the race… to take the trip. It matters not how long we travel or how many times we start and stop or lose our way.. The important thing is that we allow God to remove the shackles that hold us back and trust Him to lead. What we do along the path… how many seeds we sow, how many flowers we smell, how many children we stop to spin around, how many hands we hold, how many tears we wipe away and how many birds we stop to hear… how many leaves or flower petal we watch fall from the tree, how many ripples or sparkles we watch on the water, the joy we get from the free gifts we are given… the lives we touch. What do we do to make our movements matter? Do we accept free gifts we are given with grace and gratitude? What do we do to show the world that we are more than human beings spinning our wheels… we are more because we have the Holy Spirit within, Jesus as our mentor and God waiting for us at the end of the race? The race. THIS is the race. Our life…every minute of every day. We don’t know how far we have left to go or how long we have to get there, so let’s make each step along the way count.
“You Kingdom Come. Your Will be Done…On EARTH as it is in Heaven.” Let’s not wait to see God in Heaven…let’s see God now. God’s Will is about OUR perspective changing, not God’s perspective. He is the Constant One. He is the promise…the rainbow. He is the shield, the fortress, the creator of all good things. God is Love. We need to intentionally move toward God. We should pray for all of the swirling, roiling, writhing chaotic crazy -making on Earth to fade away. We should strive to rise above the distractions, to recognize them for what they are -unnecessary and not from God… attempts to keep us busy and focused on things that don’t matter. We need to recognize them and pass on through until we get to a place where we can see things more clearly… a place where we have a new perspective.
In Enjoying Where You are on the way to where you are Going Joyce Meyer cautions that “Regret of the past and dread of the future are both ‘thieves of joy’.”
Let’s enjoy now together. Let’s look forward with hope and confidence that everything we need and more will be provided. Let’s believe in the ONE Constant regardless of our circumstances. Let’s keep in mind ALWAYS the final exhortation of my preacher for how to not only develop a habit of prayer time, but a love for… a need for prayer. First, make an appointment: A certain time, a certain place, a certain plan. After that, the rest is simple…PRAY FIRST. Before everything. Before a phone call, before a meeting, before a trip, before a meal, before a decision, before you start your day. What if our appointment with God became a walk with God? What if we knew He was present with us all of the time, not just when we made a few minutes for him or when we needed Him? “Prayer should be our FIRST RESPONSE, not our last resort.”
Let’s make a commitment. Let’s be accountability partners. I will come at a certain time, to a certain place with a certain plan.I will come to pray with gratitude and thanksgiving. I will come to talk about life and a life worth living. Will you meet me? Will you talk to God? Will you walk with God? Let’s do. Let’s press on and run the race together. Let’s do our part to bring Earth closer to God’s Kingdom. Starting today.