Beliefnet
Simply Fabulous

Picture this…

acrylicdreamsPhoto by Acrylic Dreams

You are standing at the edge of a large tree limb.  It’s been a long, hard climb to get up to this point and from the ground, the limb looked weak and shaky.  Yet you knew this is where God has been leading you to, so you kept climbing… sometimes holding on by just your fingernails… but slowly and steadily, you got up here.

Now, you stand at the edge of the limb with it reaching out straight in front of you.  On either side of you, the drop is steep and scary.  Behind you is the past – everything you’ve been through to get to this point.  And in front of you… is God.  He is standing at the opposite end of the limb, gazing at you with love in His eyes and His right hand outstretched to you.  He is asking you to step forward, to take His hand and to keep your eyes focused on Him.

You take one hesitant step forward and start to look to either side, feeling afraid, but God reminds you to just look straight ahead.  You take another step and are tempted to look back behind you, but again, He reminds you to just focus on Him.  You continue to walk forward, gaining more confidence with each step and suddenly, you realize something surprising…

The limb is not weak or shaky after all.  It is actually sturdy and strong.  It easily supports your weight and from up here, you can see the horizon.  You can see everything that God has planned for you and it is beautiful.  His hand holds yours tightly and you are safe, secure.  Free to be the person that you were created to be.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” -Psalm 40:2 (NIV)

Following God is not always an easy road.  Sometimes (or even most times), it requires you to take a leap of faith and go out on a limb with nothing but trust and faith.  But if you dare to do it…  He will give you a firm place to stand.

So, the next time you find yourself worrying about the shaky limb, looking at the frightening circumstances around you or glancing back at the past… STOP.

Keep your eyes on Him, grasp His hand and step out… He won’t let you fall.

Time.  It’s a valuable commodity and one that most of us seem to think we’ll never have enough of.  In fact, next to money, it’s probably the number one thing that people complain about…

There’s not enough time in the day!
If only I had more time.
I’m always running behind.

We seem to think that if we just had a little more time… a few more minutes, a few more hours or a couple extra days… that life would be perfect.  That we’d get everything marked off the to-do list, the house would be clean, the kids would be successful, the spouse would feel loved and all would be right with the world.

But, what if that’s all a lie?

Recently, while reading a daily devotion from Devotions for People of Purpose about the Biblical perspective of time, I had a bit of an epiphany.

What if we’re all looking at time in the wrong way?

What if our focus shouldn’t be on how MUCH time we have but on how we spend the time that we DO have?

Instead of running around like chickens with their heads cut off, trying to accomplish all of these things that don’t really matter anyway… what if we slowed down, reevaluated how we spend our time and realize that we’ve actually had MORE than enough time all along?

Well, we can!  All we have to do is follow a few simple guidelines:

1.  Get adequate rest.

In today’s “go, go, go” society, sleep deprivation and fatigue are a common thing.  Whether it’s from overworking ourselves and running our bodies into the ground or simply not respecting our bodies and staying up too late surfing the internet or watching television, many of us are not getting the proper rest that our bodies need.  But we can choose instead to honor our bodies as a gift from God and a home for His Holy Spirit, by becoming committed to taking better care of it, which includes getting more rest.  Plus, if we realize and truly believe that we DO have all the time we need… there’s no reason to push ourselves so hard because we can get everything done that we need to and still go to bed at a decent time.

2.  Incorporate time for prayer & meditation.

Perhaps the most important thing we can do is make time for prayer and meditation every day.  Yes, EVERY day.  That may seem like an overwhelming thought if you are already feeling like you don’t have enough time in the day, but that’s why it takes an intentional effort on your part to do it.  Whether you get up a little earlier each morning or cut out some of your internet or TV time, making prayer and meditation a PRIORITY is perhaps the best way to stop feeling so rushed.  Because when we spend quality time with God every day, particularly at the beginning of our day, it sets the tone for the day and fills us with the peace of the Holy Spirit.  While meditation calms the busy mind and helps you to stay in the present moment.

3.  Say no.

One of the biggest reasons we can end up overwhelmed and feeling out of time is because we take on too many responsibilities and try to be everything to everyone.  There’s a lot of pressure around us continually to be the “perfect parent,” the “perfect friend,” the “perfect spouse” and the “perfect volunteer” who can do a million different things in a day.  Except in the end, we probably end up being none of those things because we’ve worn ourselves too thin.  But, that’s not how God created us to live anyway!  We weren’t created to do everything… we were uniquely made with specific talents and gifts that we excel at.  So it’s okay to say no to things that don’t fall into those categories.  Say yes to what you’re good at and let someone else say yes to the rest!

4.  Keep the Sabbath.

This is also pretty much the opposite of our “go, go, go” society, but the Sabbath is not only Biblically-based, but also very necessary.  Even God rested on the seventh day!  So we should rest too!  There was a time (not that long ago) when this was observed by most businesses – with everything being closed on Sunday.  But unfortunately, capitalism has taken over and Sunday is now just another day to make a profit.  But that doesn’t mean you have to take part in it.  Keep Sunday as a day of rest, reflection and rejuvenation before the week ahead.  I promise you, you CAN do it and everything will still get done.

Because the reality is… you actually do have all the time you need (and more).  The key lies in how you spend it.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  -Romans 12:2

Do you remember that little kids game, “one of these things is not like the other…”?

Lately, I feel like that is my life.

Because the truth of the matter is, the closer that you draw to God, the less like the “world” you become.  You begin to think differently, act differently and talk differently.  Your view of the world changes and you make different decisions based on different criteria than those of the “masses.”

If you’re not careful, it can be enough to make you question your sanity or at least, question the path you’re on.  But the good news is, it’s not only okay to be different… it’s a blessing!

I am not someone special.  I am not Mother Teresa or a saint or a pastor.  I am just a regular person who has been drawn into a close and amazing relationship with God because I earnestly sought Him.  And the cool thing is, when you seek Him… He answers!  And you can literally feel Him transforming you from the inside out.

And it’s not all gumdrops and rainbows… a lot of it is difficult.  He’ll make you give forgiveness to people you’ve been avoiding, give up addictions or overcome temptations, shed bad habits or defeating beliefs and eventually… see yourself the way He sees you.  It’s a pretty amazing process to be a part of.

But it’s not an easy one either.  Because the more we think like God, the less we think like the world.  That means things that seem important to the world (or at least the modern world) like money, possessions, status or achievement suddenly become very unimportant.  While other things like serving others, spending time in prayer and tithing a portion of our income become important.

Decisions are now made based on God’s will for your life, not your own desires or others’ expectations.  And sometimes they make you look totally crazy to the world around you – like Noah did with the ark or Abraham did when he had no idea where God was leading him.

But even though you may appear crazy to some, do not worry about conforming to the world.  If God is telling you to go to the mission field, go!  If He tells you to plant a church, do it!  Even if it’s something as simple as starting a food drive for your neighborhood in your garage, do it.  Take the step.  Have faith and follow God.

For that is when His glory shines the brightest… so be the light!

It looked like a totally different house.

What once was a pretty unassuming, rather run-down brick rancher with a rickety side porch and grass-covered front drive, was now a thing of beauty.  The house had been completely painted white, the side porch closed-in and adorned with french doors.  The driveway had been expanded into a large semi-circle and even the mailbox had received a fresh coat of white paint.

The new front door bathed in bright blue even matched the accent color on the small business sign that now dangles from the mailbox post.  I couldn’t read what the business was, but I imagine it’s something artistic like a photographer or a graphic designer.

If you hadn’t known the house prior to its makeover, you probably wouldn’t think anything of it.  Just another quaint little home on the main street of town.  But if you had known it before, you couldn’t help but marvel at the transformation.

Especially if you had known it like I did.

This wasn’t just any house.  This was the house where my ex had lived briefly with his family.  It was a place that had held a few good memories for me, but mostly bad ones.  Memories of yelling, fighting, anger and family drama.  I had seen things there that broke my heart and heard hateful words thrown my way on many an occasion.

Even after I had moved on in my life, the house was still an unwelcome reminder of sadder days.  Catching my attention as I drove past it every other day, until it finally began to fade into the background, along with the relationship it witnessed.

Until one day… it reappeared.

Not because it wanted to remind me of any trauma or painful memory.  But because it… like me… had been completely renovated.

Where there once was dark, there was now light.  What was once sad and worn down, was now alive and new!  The irony was not lost on me.

Because just like the house… I had been “made over” too.  Windows fogged with grief and pain had been wiped clean.  Shutters that felt the need to “protect” had been thrown open to receive and give love again.  And the old door to the past had been replaced with a new one to the future.

It was no coincidence that as I became newer and lighter, the house… that house did too.

Now, instead of a painful memory of the past, it stands as a testament to how far we both have come.  And a promise of a brighter future ahead.

 

He has made everything beautiful in its time.  -Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

What about you?  Is God healing your heart and renovating your soul?  If you can’t see the finished product yet, don’t give up.  One day, you will suddenly realize the dark has turned to light.  Stay strong.