Yesterday I started a new post…but it really didn’t say what I wanted it to, so I scrapped it. That doesn’t happen very often, thankfully. Usually when I sit down to write it is because I am compelled to…not because I am obligated. As my mother recently told my father, “Christy doesn’t usually do things because she feels obligated.” Fair…maybe. This may or may not be construed as a criticism depending on your point of view. I am ok with it. The key word is “usually”. Have I made a promise?…or has someone tried to put the obligation onto me, but I have not asked for it, agreed to it or accepted it? If someone has an expectation of me that they should not, I do not feel guilty for saying “No.” I feel fine about declining things that others deem as important and necessary if I do not agree, because I AM 100% obligated to my immediate family. Anything and everything that they want or need I will try to do for them or give to them. If my close friends need me, they can count on me. Or if I have told someone I will do something for them I will try my best…unless a member of my family or a close friend needs me. Then I will try to gracefully bow-out…and if there is no way to gracefully bow-out I will do it clumsily…but my peeps take precedence.
Why am I writing about obligation? That can be a heavy word…like responsibility. Obligation even implies that something is legally or morally binding. We don’t want to be bound by heavy or constraining things. We all prefer happy and peppy and free. Well, lately I have not been feeling particularly any of those three things. There could be several extenuating circumstances…it is summer and I hate heat. And I live in the deep south. Picture an erect body, shoulders and back strong and straight… a large smile spread across a peaceful face…a spring and bounce to each quick and easy step…arms lifted…a breeze blowing back wisps of hair. That is me in the Autumn. That is me in the Spring. That is me in layers of clothes and wool socks on a dry day in the winter. But in the summer that body starts to melt…and my face is weighed down by drops of sweat on my brow. I can feel the hot sun suck the moisture from my skin leaving it parched like Texas soil in a drought…and even in this drought condition, humidity leaves me sticky and a river runs down my spine and behind my knees. Gross and disgusting, right? That is exactly how I feel in the summer. Gross and disgusting… all summer.
So, the heat may be a reason for my lack of energy and feelings of stagnation…but I am frustrated too.
Yesterday I started writing a post, “She doesn’t play well with others.” But that is not me. I can have a good time with anyone…but I get weary of the “play”…and I want to get things done. I read a description of a personality type that describes perfectly who I am and what I am talking about: Let’s say that a large group of people are boarded onto an incredibly beautiful cruise ship that is furnished with every food or form of entertainment or diversion that a person could want or need. When everyone is on board, the ship disembarks…and for several days everyone is happy and entertained. But within a few days, people who are like me, with my personality type, quietly go one by one to the Capitan and ask him where the ship is headed and when we will arrive. In this story, the Capitan tells the inquiring passenger (a person like me) that there is no destination particularly….that the ship has everything on it that anyone could want or would need. We are just hanging out.
Within another day or two, people who are like me, would begin quietly and inconspicuously jumping off of the ship.
Bottom line is… I must have a destination and a purpose. If I had a purpose on that ship…I could stay. But if everyone on the ship was committed to playing their life away and there was NO CHANCE that I could do anything more than do what they did too…I simply couldn’t do it. I would leap into “Faith” …and if that meant the ocean vs. a party ship then so be it!
I do not play well with others if all that others want to do is play. I do not accept obligations to do things for others that will get me and get others nowhere. There is a reason that we are here. And it is not to waste our lives shopping or gambling or partying …
Here is a Bible verse for you today that sums up pretty much everything.( 1 Peter 4:1-19). You may not want to read it…it isn’t “light” or easy…not a “beach read”.But sometimes we have to hear things that are hard to hear. I will tell you now that I am not a saint. I have hurt people’s feelings. I have screamed and yelled and said things that I regret. I have been known to cuss like a sailor when I am furious or frustrated or sad. I have thrown up a few times in my life from drinking too much. I have watched movies I wish I hadn’t wastes 90 minutes of my life and a little bit of my soul on. I have thoughts that I wish I could get out of my head. I am not proud of any of those things and more. But I am not satisfied with a life like that. I don’t want to continue doing things that harm me. I don’t want to “play” or “cruise” my life away. A little play…a little cruise…absolutely. But not 24/7/365/.
I want to live for God. And this is what it looks like:
Living for God
4 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.
7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Suffering for Being a Christian
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And,
“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”[a]
19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
This is the GOOD NEWS! How is that good news you ask…because we are told exactly how it is and we have a choice to keep living for our body and our power and our glory and our riches…or we can choose to live for God. Whatever that may look like. Where ever that may take us. It will be hard to resist all of the play sometimes…we will be left out of “the fun” and people may talk badly about us. But so what?!? Are we living for 80 or 90 or 100 years? I’m not. God willing, I am living forever.
I will leave you with two things today that were sent by my friend Joy. She also recommended that I read 1 Peter 4:10 today…but as you can tell, the whole chapter spoke to me and I hope all of this will speak to you.
” What does God want from us? Does he want our religious activity? No, he wants our hearts. He wants our gratitude, our faithfulness, our obedience, and our trust. He wants nothing less than everything we are and have. When we honor him from our hearts, what can we count on? Rescue in the time of trouble, and nothing less than salvation. To what end? The glory of God.”—Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions
And I (Christy) read last night and shared with Joy this morning… “My obligation is to do the right thing. The rest is in God’s hands…. God calls some to action, others to support, and still others to pray. Each will be doing what is ‘right’ in His eyes if they obey His call!”
I am not going to worry about what I am doing and if I am right as much as I am going to be concerned with the condition of my heart. If my heart is right and my ears and eyes are seeking God then it will all be ok… More than ok. Much more.
And Joy sent me this in response: