Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Battling Against Time

Time teases me. How often I think I have a lot of it, but an hour passes like a breath. The intangibility of time as seconds, minutes become a whole day passed. Go to sleep and wake up to do it all over again. Time slips away and as much as I try to hold onto it, it's gone.

Time is precious, but more often then not wasted. Daily I fight against time. I try to plan it, schedule it, use every moment of it. As if it's something to be conquered. But best laid plans fizzle as opportunities unfold and we become distracted by all life has to offer. It's as if my battle with time becomes the very thing that distracts me from what's most important. My "To Do" list pressures me to complete tasks, but without one I get "nothing" done.

How we spend our time seems so relative to what we see as priorities in life. So what does it say about my priorities when I put the daily tasks of life before spending time with God? Or that I get so caught up in accomplishing the things on my list that I treat God like a thing I have to do instead of a relationship?

My agenda for the day can be sidetracked by a phone call from a friend or an unplanned visit with a neighbor or quality time opportunities with the kids. These distractions I often welcome, even indulge in so that I can put off things I am not in the mood to do. But am I willing to take this kind of relationship-building time with God?

I must admit that I am failing in this area. I am a juggler. I almost take pride in being able to keep more then one ball up in the air at a time. I'm that person that hates making extra trips. Let's see how many grocery bags I can carry in at one time. And I'm not terribly good at being still. I feel like I should be DOING something.

I have been encouraged reading Brother Lawrence's words in "The Practice of the Presence of God". He writes:
"To be constantly aware of God's presence, it is necessary to form the habit of continually talking with Him throughout each day. To think we must abandon conversation with Him in order to deal with the world is erroneous."
So this has become my compromise with myself. A perfectionist at heart that thinks relating to God should look a certain way or it doesn't count? I would rather be in conversation with God throughout my day then to not do it at all because my posture isn't right or there are too many distractions or I don't have a big chunk of time to devote to conversation and prayer with God. This is not to say that carving out a time to be still with God isn't important and worthwhile, but it isn't the ONLY way to take time with Him. And understanding that, has been a great encouragement to me. Because God doesn't care the method I use to come to Him, He just wants me to come.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Beloved Is Mine and I Am His

"My beloved is mine and I am his." (Song of Solomon 2:16)

From nothing, a brown cluster of root, springs life. A green shoot reaching to the sky. And soon a bud, tightly bound in its calyx, still green. The warmth of the spring sun coaxing the stem upward. Stem reveals thorns, red and sharp, dissuading a curious touch or mindless nudge. As spring dances with the upcoming summer, the green binding slowly loosens to reveal color. Casually the bud begins to blossom, revealing layer upon layer of sweet smelling petals. An intricate maze of petals finally revealing it's golden center.

Love is like a rose.

It starts from nothing. Interest and connection spurring forth a "shoot". I am worthy of love. At first, all is new, our guard is up, the bud is bound up tight. We continue forward, a complicated mix of character, personality, upbringing and opinions, either coaxing love upward or wilting it. We meet the first of many thorns. Will our differences get in the way? The dance continues with optimistic enthusiasm, but as time progresses, we (hopefully) begin to unravel the beauty and intricacies of the person we are pursuing. It doesn't take long to see whether you compliment or clash with each other. The pursuit convinces you to let love in, to slowly loosen your grip, and allow glimpses of the real you. Your love begins to blossom, an intricate maze of getting to know each other and growing into a full, mature love.

Unlike the rose, it may take a lifetime to grow into beautiful, sweet smelling love. We are all at different points in the process. The maze of layers keep things new. Going on 12 years of marriage I'm still learning things about my husband. God wants us to continuously be growing and maturing in our faith. As we mature in faith, it takes our love to new levels.

There is great comfort and gratitude to be able to say and mean "my beloved is mine and I am his". This is a promise and a commitment to one man, forever. It will (not may) come with a pile of conflict, disagreements, and "worse" times. But it will also be full of a whole lot of "better".

To my husband, Adam -- to know that God chose you for me, to trust His dreams for us, and to feel and see all the many ways you love me is a great blessing to me -- I am in this until the end. With love, Your Forever Wife

Happy Valentine's Day!

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

-- Sonnet 43 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Friday, February 11, 2011

Love One Another

"Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35

Ponder "love" long enough and you begin to wonder what the word even means. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary "love" is a noun. In it's definition I find "affection", "attachment", "attraction", "admiration" and "adoration". When you love you are devoted, loyal, and unselfish. Love means you have benevolent (disposition to do good, be kind) concern for another person.

You may have grown up knowing you were loved. Most of us have felt love for someone or something before. I accept that "love" in the English language is a noun (a person, place, or thing), but last time I checked "love" wasn't something I can touch or hold. Maybe "love" as it was first intended is something that is supposed to be done (an action) rather then just a thing.

Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate love, but I wonder how many of us actually know what it means to love. Christians understand that we are called to love. Ten times in the bible God uses the phrase "love your neighbor".

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

The Lord has been working on my heart over the last year, challenging my idea of what love actually looks like. If love was considered an action, then how do I show love to others? Because it's not just a feeling I have or affection towards someone. I can show love by how I speak or how I listen, how I serve others, how I forgive, and most importantly, perhaps, making sure my heart and motivation is right as I'm loving others. Am I grumbling and complaining while I'm helping? Am I helping because I have something to gain or I'm worried about what other people think about me? Love isn't about me.

I have read several books on biblical love recently and I'm overwhelmed by this simple truth, of everything we are called by God to be, boil it all down and it starts and ends with love. Look at the Ten Commandments and if you are loving then it would be easy to obey them. This is why the two greatest commandments are about love. If you love the Lord and you love your neighbor then everything else flows out of that love.

Easy to say, perhaps harder to do...atleast all of the time. We all get distracted by our own selfish desires, which get in the way of our ability to love the way God calls us to. But I believe it's more important to try then to not try at all. God's love is unfailing and abounding. His love endures forever. Loving perfectly, as does the Lord, doesn't come until you meet God face to face.

"Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies." (Psalm 36:5)

How do you show love? What does it mean to you to love?

Happy Love Day!

"I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

There Is A Time for Everything

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace."

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

I think we're in a time of snow! When I look outside my window I see a blanket of white, thick and heavy, covering our yard, the grass, the bushes. I know I'm in the minority, but I really do enjoy the snow season. The fluffy white covers and changes the look of this dead neighborhood, brightens it, and makes it beautiful again. I don't get excited about the storm because I know the snow will melt. It will not be winter forever. And when this season is over I will be ready for the next change, spring and it's growing and blooming. I really love the changing seasons!

This verse from Ecclesiastes really sums up life. I have navigated some of these "times" without hesitation. It's not hard to figure out when it's a time to weep or a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. But what about "a time to search and a time to give up"? That's a pretty important one to get right. How will I know which "season" I'm in? What if I'm scattering stones when I'm supposed to be gathering them?

I think more times then not I am asking those questions. How will I know? What should I do? How do I decide?

Last week one of our children got caught in a lie. All of the sudden a series of untruths were revealed and we had to deal with the issue of lying. As parents we do the best that we can, but does anyone really know how to handle these things? I certainly felt at a loss, wanting to do the right thing and keep it from continuing any further. I suppose most kids go through a phase of this at one point or another. It's a life lesson and I welcome the opportunity to make our stance on it clear to both of our children. Our Pastor's sermon last Sunday was a great reminder to center it all on God, our parenting, our discipline, everything we encounter in life. Like the planets orbit around the sun, our lives should orbit around the Son.

We're also dealing with some truck issues and when I started this post I had no information. It's the transmission, but for the last day or so we have been in a holding pattern. They couldn't even get it to start let alone to figure out what was wrong or how much it would cost us. And in that space of "not knowing" the questions revisit about what we will do and how to decide. Even in prayer the answers do not come falling out of the sky (sometimes I wish they would).

It's in this place when I don't know what to do or what's going to happen that I have to ACTIVELY be working and choosing my responses. I can very easily start on a train of worry that will take me off into "crazy land". I have to really keep my thoughts in check as I try to wait patiently for the information that will come. And I know even having the information won't necessarily ease my mind. I know the right thing to do is to surrender. God knows what's going to happen and He will help us deal with whatever comes. Boy is that hard!

I love and am convicted by these quotes (both from Paul Miller author of "A Praying Life") about surrendering to God.

"The great struggle of my life is not trying to discern God's will; it is trying to discern and then disown my own. Once I see that then prayer flows. I have to be praying because I'm no longer in charge. Either I see all of life as a gift, or I demand that life have a certain look to it."

"Anxiety wants to be God but lacks God's wisdom, power, or knowledge. Because anxiety is self on its own, it tries to get control. It is unable to relax in the face of chaos."

My heart wants to "relax in the face of chaos". My mind wants to hide under that pile of snow in my front yard and wait until spring thaws me out. I'll leave you with this final Paul Miller quote (his "A Praying Life" book is a must have).

"If God is sovereign, then he is in control of all the details of my life. If he is loving, then he is going to be shaping the details of my life for my good. If he is all-wise, then he's not going to do everything I want because I don't know what I need."

Where's that snow pile???

Related Posts with Thumbnails