Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Rich and Satisfying Life

I don't think that I am alone when I say, "I just feel so overwhelmed."  I feel like I am always pulled in every direction.  I feel like every single second of my day is accounted for.  When I do get a rare hour or two with nothing that I HAVE to do, I spend all of that time trying to figure out what I want to do with that time.  That doesn't sound like the rich and satisfying life I have been promised in John 10:10.  It actually sounds more like the beginning of the verse,   "The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life."

Is life meant to be like this?  Going from one thing to the next, keeping with the schedule so things don't fall apart, being so exhausted at the end of the day, but yet you can't go to bed yet because there is still so much stuff to be done?   "Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."   Matthew 11:28-30  This kind of life sounds so wonderful, yet it sounds way too good to be true.  I find myself daydreaming of a life like this.  Is this really attainable?  Can we really have a rich and satisfying life?  If we want this kind of life we need to ask ourselves these questions:

  • "Does my house really need to look "company ready" in case of the ever so rare event that someone might show up unannounced?"
  • "Do each of my children need to be in some sort of extracurricular activity at all times?"
  • "Do I really have to be involved in every activity at my children's school?"
  • "Do I really need to volunteer for everything that comes up?"
  • "Does every dinner I cook have to be 'Pinterest worthy'?"
Even deeper questions we need to ask ourselves:
  • "Do I schedule in anytime in my day to spend with God, meditating on his word, praying, listening for his voice?"
  • "If I were on my way to tend to one of my regularly scheduled "tasks", would I easily forgo that task to minister to someone in need?"
  • "How many of these duties are done to really help, and not just so i can be seen as someone who can 'do it all'?"
  • "How often do I want to give up serving my family, or others, because I don't receive the proper recognition, or thank you?"  
  • "How often do just simply enjoy someone's company on any given day?"
I am sure there are so many more questions we can ask ourselves.  But the bottom line is that we don't enjoy a rich and satisfying life because we live in a society that feels that we have to be doing something all the time.  That is not to make an excuse for laziness, but sometimes we have to just be able to be still, enjoy the people around us.   Does our house have to be perfectly tidy at all times?  Especially when there are kids in the home?  No, but do we really have to have so much stuff that it is too overwhelming to keep it decent without it being a constant thing?  Is it bad for our children to be in extracurricular activities?  No, but do all have to be in one at all times?  We are teaching our children to have the same hurried lifestyle we can't keep up with.  Should we never volunteer for anything, or be involved in anything at our kids' school?  Absolutely not, but we don't have to volunteer for everything, and we need to realize that it is okay if we don't make it to every awards assembly or class party, or PTO activity.  Is it wrong to want to cook nice meals for your family?  No, but it is also okay to have leftovers a couple times a week (it saves money too).  I think it might even be okay to eat on paper plates sometimes.  

The way the enemy has managed to kill, steal, and destroy our lives is by fooling us into thinking that we have to always be busy, always be productive.  It steals our time away from God, and the things he wants to fill our days with.  

"In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps"  Proverbs 16:9

Plan your day, be efficient with your time.  Realize that if everything on your "to-do" list does not get done, but you have prayed with someone that God led you to, or spent extra time with your kids instead of doing the dishes, or if you have just enjoyed the company of a friend that needed someone to talk to, you will lead a rich and satisfying life.  God doesn't give us to-do lists.  He places things, or people, on our hearts that require our obedience, and usually a sacrifice.  But it is well worth the sacrifice.  The rewards will outweigh any recognition, or "job well done" that we could ever receive from the world.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

True Beauty

I look in the mirror and wonder what happened to me.  I am only 31 years old, but I am seeing more wrinkles, more eye baggage, spider veins, and.........wait for it........wait for it...... GRAY HAIRS!!!!!  Where did all of this come from?  I didn't think I was old enough to start showing these outward signs of aging.  Apparently, the laws of time apply to me too. 

Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Lets face it.  No matter how much time and effort we put into our appearance, it all fades.  We can take good care of ourselves, and that helps.  But the older you get, the more effort you have to put into looking younger.  The wrinkles come, as do the gray hairs and spider veins.  And we can become so consumed with making sure we hold off the aging process.  It is exhausting.  While we can live a lifestyle that can keep us healthy and young-like, and i encourage that :), we can not avoid getting older.

But there is another beauty that we hold, and it is that of our inner beauty.  When you put the time and effort into your inner beauty, it never fades.  It only becomes more and more beautiful with time.
1 Peter 3:4 (NLT)  You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.

I think that our inner and outer beauty are opposites.  With our outer beauty, we don't have to put much effort into preserving it when we are young, but the older you get the more you work at it.  And with our inner beauty, we have to put a lot of effort into it when we are younger.  It is not easy to stay inwardly beautiful when you are young.   But if you have set Christ in the center of your life when you are young, and strive to be more and more to be like him every day (yes, it is a daily thing), it just gets easier and easier.  And your beauty will NEVER FADE!!!! 

When you come to the end of your life, you will not be remembered by appearance.  Your appearance will do nothing to change the world.  But if you work on your heart, making sure that you are known by your inner beauty, your love for others, your kindness, and gentleness, your desire to serve others, and your love for God, your faith in Him, and your desire to serve him daily, that is how you will be remembered.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)
 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.