Saturday, January 22, 2011

Resolutions and revelations

I am a list maker. Every day begins and ends with a list – with maybe a couple more lists drafted throughout the day. Making lists helps me feel organized and responsible. I make grocery lists, shopping lists, to do lists, bucket lists, workflow lists, honey do lists, ect. As you can tell, I am quite the ambitious list maker. However recently I noticed that my lists are a little bit unrealistic. I write down a bunch of tasks or ideas without taking into account my human limitations and inabilities. I’m setting myself up for failure, stress, and anxiety. In fact sometimes I feel anxious just from reviewing a list–before I even attempted to conquer it!

Last year I drafted a very detailed New Year’s Resolutions list. What an ambitious list it was! And while I am quite proud of the list, I must confess, I did not conquer it. (Although making the list was a good reminder that my life does indeed need resolving). It was simply too much. I assigned all these hopes, desires, and challenges to lil’ ol’ me.

While last year’s list stirred some desires it did not bring about growth or change. Praise the Lord I did grow closer to being in Him, but it was not through a list. And so, this New Year’s I did not make a list. Instead, of drafting a list of resolutions I am recognizing the ever important need to seek his revelations, moments in which I encounter him in spirit and in truth. Times when I understand who he is and who I am in him. Or what I am doing on my own and what he could be doing through me. I am looking forward to not only seeing growth areas but praise areas too! Times when I see my obedience to him in more ways that I realized and I take a moment and shout “Praise the Lord!” As it says in the bible, we need to have thanksgiving in all situations!

As I said, I like to write lists, but – and take it from an experienced list maker – there is only one type of list that has truly impacted and encouraged me, a prayer list. A prayer list is a list shared with God, where not only you know what is desired, but he does too. It’s a list that you let him organize and be responsible for! Of course it’s also important that you follow his lead. And here is a challenge: If your list is focused on material comforts or filled with bullet points that you are confident in (in such a way that you it would not lead you to him)…you may want to re-work it. Paul was greatly challenged yet Christ was the only source that could bring him contentment.

Finally, while the New Year is a great time to covet change it’s an even better season to find contentment. To be satisfied where you are at today, not just distraught at where you aren’t at or focused on where you want to be. As they say, contentment and godliness go hand-in-hand. Contentment: Our desire to see God’s character reproduce in us. And godliness: Our acceptance of God’s will in our lives.

Bottom line: I was mapping out everything on paper and struggling to remain free of anxiety in anything. Instead, I needed to give God more authority. It’s pretty unnerving to think that we are not our own solution. But take heart, our solution is Christ! All prayers and petitions (and lists!) need to be laid down at his feet. Then those lists will helps to be encouraged, not burdened. We should feel called to do whatever is on that list and fully confident that Christ will help us do it!

Humm…A resolution list paired with prayer, now that’s not such a bad idea!

Philippians 4:6-7,11-13 (Paul speaking here)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus….11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A crick in my neck

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (Eph 5:24)

This morning I spent some time dwelling on the above scripture and came up with this thought. Why do I earnestly seek God’s direction, eager to put it to action, but not my husband’s? As the scripture says, I am to submit to Jon as the church submits to Christ. Just before I read this verse, I was praying for God to lead me (and Jon) in our next steps after seminary. I furthered prayed for God to take in his grip my desire to become a published writer, I stand ready to turn away from what brings me such joy (writing) or ready to dive into the long journey of becoming a published writer.

Here I am tilting my ear to the high heavens, getting a crick in my neck, and shooing Jon away, worried that I won’t hear God over Jon’s gibberish. Jon sits me down to share his discernment into our life, I say “Just one moment, let me finish checking my Facebook.” Or when he steps out in faith, I say, “I think I’m going to sit this one out.” And while sometimes I say these same things to God, the difference is that I am more eager to receive discernment from God than from my husband. I’m missing out. It is God’s plan for me to be directed through Jon. It’s God’s plan!

Last I checked God’s plan is a sure thing. That phrase “My way or the highway,” yep he coined it. Okay, not really, because obviously I’m living proof that you can take the high road. But I’m here to tell you, don’t take the high road. No wonder I’ve been stressed! I’m trying to work against God, rather than with him. I’m like a fish trying to swim upstream.

Speaking of my desire to be a published writer, I’ve been reading an informational guide on how to write a book proposal. Last night I spent some time checking out the website of the women who wrote the guide. Her name is Mary DeMuth, she also wrote a book called Thin Places (in it she will take you deep into the crevices of her heart and share how God was with her even through life’s darkest moments). Today I logged onto her website and to my surprise read about a contest she is running in which she will give away some great resources for writers. I couldn’t pass on this opportunity, I even opened my first personal twitter account! If your are an aspiring writer, I encourage you to check out her website if not for the contest then for the free advice she gives through blog posts and such.