Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Learning to Love the Life you didn't Plan On

Growing up, I had a plan for what my life would be like. What would happen when. They encouraged me to do this in school. But, even the best made plans don't always come to fruition.

I was going through a box of old journals recently and read one of those pages where I had planned our what my life after high school would look like. As I read it, I was struck by how different from that plan my life today actually is.

My plans when I was in high school had me finishing my business degree in four years, getting a job at an accounting firm and getting my designation as an accountant in three years following that. In my plan, I would have gotten married in that time and have kids once I finished all the other.

My reality started out according to that plan. I did get my business degree after four years. But, that's as much as it went according to my plan. I'm not an accountant. I'm not married. But, I have a job I love and I have the freedom to be involved in things I love at my church.

For a long time I struggled with not having the life I had so carefully planned in high school. When people talked to me about making that plan, they seemed to imply that it would happen - even if that wasn't what they intended. So, when things didn't go according to my plan, I wondered what I had done wrong in making my plan.

A couple years ago, I came to the realization that I was missing out on a lot of good stuff God had planned for me, because I was still holding on to that plan I had. I had to get to the point of surrendering my plan to God, so I could embrace His - whatever it might look like.

As I began walking that journey of letting go of my plans and embracing God's, my perspective changed. Instead of seeing what I didn't have and wishing for it, I started to see everything I did have. All the things God has blessed me with - many of which I'd been missing for a long time.

It doesn't mean I don't still want some of those things that were in my original plan, but it does mean I'm not focused on them to the exclusion of what I have been given. It's a balance, and I often find I've wandered to one side or the other. But, as I learn to be grateful for all that God has blessed me with, I'm learning to love the life I have while still having things I desire.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

No Room for Pride

In my Bible Galatians 6:1-6 has been given the heading "Doing Good to All." Paul seems to put together a series of verses that each stand alone in this section. They speak of different aspects of how we should do good to others.

"Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all goo things with their instructor."

These verses are full of things we should do as the family of God.

As I was reflecting on this passage, I realized there is one key to doing any of these things . . .


Without it, any attempt at these things will come across as wrong and could do more harm than good. There's no room for pride in these.

It take humility to gently restore someone caught in sin. In our pride, we might point out sin in someone's life. But we can only restore them if we come to them in  humility - with love and a desire to see them freed from that sin.

Our pride would keep us from admitting we could be tempted to sin as come alongside someone to restore them. It would cause us to see ourselves as better than that. Humility allows us to admit our own weakness and susceptibility to sin.

Pride says we have to carry our own burdens without help from anyone else. Humility gives us the ability to ask for help when it's too much for us alone. It gives us freedom to live in caring community with others.

Pride infaltes our view of ourselves. It deceives us. Our pride will compare us to others and see ourselves as better than. Humility looks at ourselves through God's eyes and see His view. Instead of comparing to others, we ourselves through God's eyes.

Our pride will limit who we are able to learn from. If we are teachers, our pride will interfere with our ability to learn from those we teach. Humility means we can learn from anyone God wants to use to teach us.

Pride will also keep up from sharing what we've learned in a way that blesses others. We will speak down to others when we explain it. When we share it with humility, we share our excitement and love for the truth with others, not just our knowledge.

If we're going to live the way God intended for His family on earth to operate, we have to learn to live in humility. There's no room for pride. We have to learn to identify those areas where pride has gotten in the way and confess them to God so He can free us from them. As we learn to live in humility with each other, we catch a glimpse of what God intended for us.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Search for What Really Satifies

"I went to the woods because I wished to live differently, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so clear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms." (Henry David Thoreau)

I've been struck by this quote every time I watch the movie Dead Poet's Society. By the desire in it to live life to the full. To get every last bit of life out of time on earth.

It makes me wonder about where we can really fulfill that desire for life to the full. Because, I don't think it's ultimately found in anything on this earth. Place, or people, or things, may have a part to play. But they're not going to help us "suck out all the marrow of life" on their own.

In John 10:10, Jesus says that He came to bring life to the full. Jesus is the Source of the full life we're looking for. Without Him, we'll never truly find it.

We may have moments that seem like it. We may have a fleeting feeling that this is the best of life. But it's not going to last. We'll end up searching for the next thing. An endless cycle of thinking we found it and the searching for it again when that one fades.

When we choose to seek Christ with everything in us, we find the satisfaction of life that we are all searching for. Matthew 6:33 tells us to, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you."

We can live this life to the full, a life that we don't find lacking in anything at the end, when we seek God first. We may not do it perfectly. We may not get it right all the time. But, we can be assured that in doing so, we find the only way to live the life we are really longing for.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A New Pathway

Crisp, white snow
No footprints on the surface
Stretching as far as the eye can see

Silence surrounds
All noise muffled by the mounds of snow
Sounds fall dead, no way to echo off the snow

Time to think
To plan, to dream, to wonder
To mark out a fresh path with each step

Starting over
Marking out a path for me to go
Start afresh, choose a new direction

No distractions
No wandering into the path of another
Nothing to pull me away from where I'm going

Each step unknown ahead
Trusting His way is the best for me
Following where God leads with each step I take

I will follow
Into the unknown, unseen by me
Seen by the One I trust with my whole life