Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reflection of Our Hearts

Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

You can tell a lot about a person simply by listening to what he or she talks about. Have you ever been privy to a conversation (perhaps unwillingly) that made you squirm uncomfortably? Have you ever been present when others are indulging in vicious gossip, especially the character assassination of some poor soul who’s not there to defend herself? How did it make you feel? How did you respond?

If you’re anything like me – someone who worries about offending others – maybe you try changing the subject, or you might politely excuse yourself and leave (or shirk off to the nearest corner, anywhere to get away). In my most recent experience with this type of situation I found myself humming (fairly loudly), “It’s a Small World After All.” I don’t know where that came from! (Well, maybe I do.)

In Matthew 12:34 Jesus said, “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

If our conversations reflect what’s going on in our hearts, it might be prudent to pay attention to the content of those conversations. What are our words saying about our relationship with our Heavenly Father – our Holy God?

A sobering thought, isn’t it?

While it’s true that we must pay attention to and be careful about what we say, it’s also true that change comes from the inside out. If my words are merely an indication of my heart’s condition; and my words are critical, vicious, foul and ugly, do I have a word problem or a heart problem?

Remember that true change comes only from an intimate relationship with the Lord and from meditating on His Word. The Bible has much to say about the words we speak. If you want your words to reflect your love for God, you might begin by reading the Proverbs and underlining, highlighting, or writing on a separate piece of paper every verse that refers to speech or the tongue.

Be encouraged. We’re all works in progress, and God is doing a good work in you!

Always at Work

“What is God doing in your life right now?”

Years ago when my husband and I were newly wed, we got involved with these “radical” Christians who would ask such questions of us. Caught off guard, I probably pulled something off the top of my head rather than admit, “I don’t know.”

“I don’t know what God is doing in my life right now” doesn’t sound very spiritual, does it?

Maybe it’s not fair to catch people off guard with such a question, but it certainly is thought provoking, and we all could probably spend more time thinking about God’s role in our life.

Looking back over the years, I am astonished – truly amazed – at how God has worked in my life. Astounding acquaintances and inexplicable events have taken place and have led me down paths I never imagined. They have changed me, shaped me, and grown me into who I am today. I can see now that even though I may not have realized it at the time, and even through some difficult, challenging situations, He always had a plan; He always was at work in my life. This knowledge gives me perspective that those who do not know the Lord could not possibly have.

Problems that used to send me into a tizzy are now so much easier to shrug off. Is God up in Heaven pacing nervously and wringing His hands about this problem? Of course not! If He doesn’t worry, why should I? I need only to ask, “Father, help me to see your hand in this situation – your perspective, your solution.”

There have been times I’ve gotten off the path of His plan for me – free will allows that. Have there been regrets and consequences? Absolutely. But God’s love is so persistent, He never stopped calling me back to Himself – back to where He could continue doing good things in my life.

When we’re trusting Him and seeking Him, we can confidently assume that He’s always at work in our lives, helping us know Him better and to be transformed into His image.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Basking in the Son

Due to the lack of sunshine in the past several weeks, there’s been a recent outbreak of crankiness and the blues and lots of the blahs. It seems to me that nearly everyone’s on the verge of cracking. Either that or they’re exclaiming, “Just let me SLEEP!”

Every time the sun pokes out its head – usually for only a few minutes at a time – those of us indoors rush outside to bask in its rays, lifting our faces to let it penetrate our souls. Isn’t it amazing how this light source has such an effect on our emotional and physical well-being? People start smiling, humming and stepping lightly. We know whatever’s been bothering us is going to get better, because . . . there’s the sun.

We need sunshine!

I’ve often thought to describe the feeling of experiencing God’s presence, but words elude me. It struck me recently that experiencing God’s presence feels very similar to stepping into the sun – especially after days of gloom – where He fills us with His warmth, and wellness infiltrates our being, lifting us beyond any anxiety or despair.

In fact, the Bible compares God to the sun, saying, “For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right (Psalm 84:11; NLT).

We’ve seen what a struggle it is to remain joyful and optimistic when the sun is hidden behind gray skies, but just as the sun is never really gone even though we miss its rays when it’s hidden behind the clouds, God is always with us, and He invites us to enter into and enjoy His presence any time.

Psalm 16:11; You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Busy People

Busy is a four-letter word. It’s easy to get caught in the busy trap. Sometimes I have so much going on that I’m left feeling stressed out, exhausted, and truly concerned that I’ll end up friendless in my old age because I don’t make time to spend with the few friends I have now.

But I know I am not alone.

In spite of what we may think, God never intended for any one person to do everything. Most of us need to think carefully about how we spend our time. We have to learn to say NO to some of the “opportunities” that come our way and examine the activities we’re currently involved with to determine which ones are really necessary and what things can be eliminated.

Before we can do this, we must search our hearts and invite God to help us see why we’re driven to do so much. Once we understand what need is being met through our busyness, we can let the Lord meet that need. He can and will meet every need in a way that will bring us peace, not stress, fulfillment, not frustration.

We have to admit that we can never do enough. There will always be some other cause to which we can donate our time. There will always be someone else who wants us to get involved. There are people sitting on the sidelines doing nothing because everything’s already taken care of; they aren’t needed. If we stepped down and didn’t do everything, someone else would have to take our place. And once we’ve given that up, we must resist with all our strength the urge to get our hands back in there and take over because “only we know how to do things right.” Those sitting on the sidelines will need to figure things out, just as we once did. We’ll give advice if asked, but otherwise, we’ll bug off!

Let’s go out and play with the kids and have lunch with that friend we’ve been neglecting. Let’s have a movie night with our sweethearts, or pour ourselves a cup of something hot to drink, wrap up in a big afghan, and cuddle up on the couch with that novel we’ve been meaning to read. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured.

Gotta go now, it’s time for my hour-long bath!