Thursday, March 29, 2012

Choosing Joy

Joy is a choice that I can make. The sad truth is that I often don't want to. I don't want to let go of feeling the misery of my present trials and put on what Christ has for me. This time of year often brings back painful memories for me. It is the anniversary of an extremely difficult period of time I went through in my life. Each year I tell myself it won't be so hard this year and each year I am wrong. But last night Pastor Dale was talking about trials and it helped. He was talking about the daily trials that hit all of us and this is more of a life crisis but it got me thinking. To have joy I must choose it. I must decide that coming out of the darkness is a much better choice than staying there. To be a light in the darkness I have to shine. Seems simple enough but it isn't. Life is hard and when I decide to dwell in the bleakness of it all I cannot be an effective Christian or a Kingdom dweller. I may have a place in the Kingdom but I am living as if I am determined not to dwell in that Kingdom until I have to. For me it is often about trying to make sense of the darkness I have gone through even though there is no sense in it. It is about asking what it was about me that made this bad thing happen and then making sure I am punished for it. It is sometimes about feeling that I don't have a right to be joyful. It is about not wanting to let it go. It is good to remember what God takes us through but it is bad to live continually in things that are already past. I am not sure I fully get what I am writing here but since I truly believe that I serve the God who is enough, and I do believe that, I am going to choose joy each time I catch myself sitting in a dark spot. I will give those dark places that I cling to back to Him. I will offer up my wallowing and choose to believe that life and joy are better and that it is okay for me to take them.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Where's Waldo

I have this Waldo game on my new phone. You know, the guy in the stripes that you have to find. Well, I was sitting in church on Sunday and listening to this really good sermon about how believers need to respond to God instead of reacting to people.  And I was thinking in my head  about how that is true of circumstances as well. Instead of reacting to all of the stuff I have to go through in my life I should respond to God in trust. A little like Joseph when he was sold into slavery, worked himself to a fairly high position only to be thrown in prison. He chose to respond to God; to not question Him and to not only remain faithful but to grow in the faith that he had. And God of course had a purpose for all of it. I started thinking about 1 Corinthians 13, the 12th verse; "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. " I only partially see when God sees the entire picture. Responding to God in my circumstances is about trusting Him when I don't understand the situation I am in and when I don't know what to do. Responding to people is a lot like that. It's about knowing that whatever people are saying and doing around you that God is in control and that He will help me walk in His love no matter what. There is this part in the Waldo game where suddenly the screen gets all fuzzy and cloudy. They call it a sandstorm and I can't see Waldo and all of the other stuff I am supposed to find...where I  have to find the magic lantern and click on it in order to keep going. I get lots of sandstorms in my life. My life gets all fuzzy and the people around me make choices I don't like and my circumstances seem impossible...and I find I  react to that...instead of praying in faith and trusting God. I pray...but I lots of times don't believe it will make a difference...I don't have a magic lantern that has starry sparkles around it to show me where it is...but I am indwelt by the Spirit of God. I wish God would just give me a list each day of what He wants me to do, warnings about what I am going to be tested in, and when would be the best time to go home and find everyone in harmony. But instead He leads me and way too often I resist. I want comfort instead of stretching. But I read today that my "anxiety is the outcome of the perception that something is happening God didn't design for our good and His glory." (unknown) I also am pretty sure that I like to be in control  way more than I think I do. I don't play Waldo during church. Just want you to know that. I hardly play at all. It's not like the books and requires way too many skills. I just like to find the hidden objects. Most days I think life requires way too many skills and that I have both failed and am failing. But it's probably not that way at all. I am just in the middle of a sandstorm and can't see clearly. For now I need to believe He is leading me through this storm called life, using me to make some sort of difference, and that the problems that to me look insurmountable, well, I know He knows what He is doing and I will keep praying that I head in His direction.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Thoughts

I have been a bit distracted lately. New babies will do that to you. But I also got sidetracked and maybe went just a little crazy finding this new little life and the resulting upheaval in our home has just plain worn me out. It was nice today to have an Adventure Monday...not work and not home and not busy. While riding home from Seattle today I got to thinking about how many much stuff you can get wrong nowadays. Like, I don't ever remember to bring my own shopping bags to the store...and I still drink bottled water...and sometimes I will just dump something in the garbage that could be recycled because I am lazy or tired or both. These are important things to some people and I don't want to minimize it. I often feel guilty over my inability to understand what is most important and why it is important. And why should I buy organic food anyway?  I sometimes feel that way as a believer in Christ. I spend a lot of time doing stuff at church...many hours planning and preparing the things I do for Christ. But sometimes I struggle wondering if any of it matters...whether it makes a difference or is just me doing stuff. And then when I blow it I wonder if I should even keep going.  I deeply desire my life to matter and, for me anyway, the only thing that really matters in helping people find relationship with God and helping them move forward in that relationship. Each day I try to make those around me feel loved and valued... Each day I try and lift up the name of my Savior and make it known. I don't want to reach the end of my days and find out that my motives stunk so bad that it was all about me and not about Jesus. I don't want to find that none of what I did was of any true value. I have to remember that all Jesus wants is me...and He has me...and that is what will Him and to those around me.