Saturday, March 17, 2012

Progress Isn't Always Moving Forward

"We are not living a a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually nearer and finally meet in the center: rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, each of those into two again and at each fork you must make a decision. Even on the biological level life is not like a river but like a tree."
                                                                          ~C.S. Lewis, the Great Divorce

This quieted my heart as I started to view life as an adventure to live rather than a destination to obtain. My logical side can be very cause and effect/achievement oriented. It challenged my "perfectionism" side with the thought that there is more than one way to travel rather than the pressure of finding the one "correct" path.

All this got me thinking about growth and movement, especially when it relates to growing as a Christian. I used to strive after God through tons of study and reading...if I just obtained enough information, then I would know God or at least be able to mature as a believer. This is all forward movement...constantly adding another rung. While it can be helpful, it is exhausting honestly, if that is the only way to mature. God is opening my eyes to more...

While on vacation to Puerto Rico, I was enjoying the tropical scenery and noticed all the different types of movement that were catching my eye. It was as if God were showing me movement isn't always forward and all types are beautiful and necessary for He is a great God...master of all parts fitting together to make everything lovely.

Here is the list of movement He gave me in relation to spiritual growth:
  • vertical--going deep instead of wide (letting truths sink deep into your heart until you "own" them)
  • sprawling--like ivy on a wall---fellowship (as lives touch one another and abide in the Vine, the Kingdom grows)
  • explosive--like a fish darting for cover (running to God in a storm or danger/uncertainty lurks, fleeing sin, resisting the enemy)
  • walking from here to there--like the puppy that joined us on our morning walk (following God one step at a time enjoying His companionship and listening for His voice)
  • stationary--like a palm tree blowing in the wind (a time to pause and reflect giving Him the glory, or worship with arms swinging)
  • sedentary--like an anemone (they wait for food to come to them and digest it, like us digesting Truth)
  • simply being--like a jellyfish floating in the currents (displaying His glory to the world just because we are alive and His unique creation)
  • beauty--like a flower (Jesus in us should cause others to stop and enjoy, or inquire about what they see---that's movement in someone else, or should I say the ceasing of movement!)
  • waiting--like a tide ebbing and flowing (there is a perfect rhythm to His timing, forward, back a bit, pause; it can seem like you're going nowhere and be a bit frustrating, but if we rest in His arms (the tide), we will end up where the tide is taking us)
  • fluid--like water seeping into crevices (allowing God's spirit into all the spaces in our heart)
Don't fall into the trap of living only for measurable performance...there is freedom in all movement and all is orchestrated by Him. If we constantly strive and move out in human effort, its like being a piece of glass that can cut through things, but others may get hurt, including ourselves! If we allow His tide of grace and His timing to have effect, our edges will become smooth, even soft to the touch---we will be able to reach others more effectively. Obedience is surrender to His current and may seem like you are "doing" less, however, He works in more ways than simply moving forward...may His waves of grace wash over you...His grace takes time and is sufficient to make everything beautiful!

"For in him we live and move and have our being." Acts 17:28

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Just Say "NO" to Worry

You've heard of "Just say no" to drugs because of the ill effects on your health--physically and mentally. However, worry is no less harmful. I shared a quote on Facebook that said, "Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but gets you nowhere." The more I think about it, that makes the effects of worry sound actually peaceful; like a little old lady rocking on her porch as she knits baby booties. So I must add, "Just say no to worry"!

As I reflect on the effects of worry in my own life, I think its much more like tangling with a raging lion. Its like trying to keep the teeth at bay--much effort is used up in self protection, fixing the issue and eyes are totally on the "problem". It can feel productive, honestly, because it is protective--trying to figure out the way to safety for yourself or the one you are worrying about. It can be about control--in a fallen world, our heart cries for order and is frustrated by smacks of injustice, confusion, hurt, fear, being overwhelmed, or just things that irritate.

The fall brought our hearts the knowledge of good and evil...we now "naturally" take ownership of things that never were ours to carry or figure out. Gone is the complete trust and daily face to face communion with God...leaving our hearts independent, living as orphans in a scary world. Worry and fretting usually lead to the problem looking bigger than it is, create a striving spirit to "fix it" or a depressed/overwhelmed, tired soul. This is a huge cost with larger implications. Lost sleep robbing us of joy and energy that could be used for good, those over indulgences to temporarily give comfort/relief that actually bring shame, simply stress that makes us less graceful to others, or depression can set in that takes a life--either the quality of life or literally, physical life.

Yes, this lion rages, taunts, ridicules, then comes in to suck life if its not put in a cage. Jesus said He came to GIVE LIFE. We need Him to cage the lion so we can receive all this life! Only His strength and spirit are big enough to carry all the burdens this broken world will throw at us. We can walk safely, securely with a light spirit if we can see everything through the lens of trust--trusting Him to take care of us, to care for the burdens...if we cast our cares upon Him like our friend Peter says, then its like putting the raging lion in a cage at a zoo. We can walk by it, glance at it, but not obsess over it and enjoy the rest of the "zoo"--all of God's creativity, life and others around us.

I confess, I am an expert worrier...or used to be. As God comes for deeper parts of my heart, as I allow Him closer and receive His Fatherly love, it quiets my heart. Not that I don't get trapped into fretting and mulling over less than perfect situations, but I can catch myself...or should I say catch that lion and put a cage around it. Thank you Jesus, that you are always willing to catch the lions I throw at you. AND thank you more for the LIFE and JOY I find in you apart from the lions!

How about you, where are your lions? Are they raging in your face/heart/mind? Have you talked with Jesus about what's bothering you and let Him put a cage around it? He can and will carry it too! May you look back at your life and remember His faithfulness to you and others and gain the courage to trust Him in the face of the teeth that are coming at you! Trust Him, Talk to Him...I know its easier said than done, but take heed or you will get bit!

Job 4:8,10 "...those who sow trouble reap it. The lions may roar and growl, yet the teeth of the great lions are broken."
Psalm 37:1,3,4 "Do not fret...Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalm 37:7 "Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret..."
Psalm 37:8 " Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret--it leads only to evil."