Sunday, May 08, 2016

Hurry Up and Wait This Instant!

I watched as the checkout line I had just chosen to leave zoomed forward. Only 60 seconds ago I had joined the end of that line and began doing what I always do – strategically scanning the lines to my immediate right and left.  I’ve got skills; I know it doesn’t matter how long the line is, what matters is how many items are in the customers’ carts. 

That’s right – a line may be longer, but who’s got what? If he only has a watermelon and a bag of chips, he’s going to get to the clerk faster than the shorter line with the mom of four antsy kids who has a cart overflowing with diapers, macaroni and cheese, cereal boxes and baby food. It’s all about supply and demand: when the supplies to be purchased are in abundance, the demand for me to change lines is essential.

So of course I moved to the line to my right when I saw that it had more people but fewer items. I then noted who came up and took the spot I had just vacated. I wanted to see how much faster I made it through my line than she would hers.

But, oh how I was mistaken. My vacated spot rapidly became the winning lottery ticket. I watched her cruise on up to the clerk like a kid on a slip n slide as I stayed stuck in my spot, three carts behind some dude who couldn’t seem to find his wallet.

I watched Woman In My Spot leave the store and go on her merry way as I stayed right where I was, humbly leaning my lesson. The grass is not always greener, Self. You’ve got to bloom where you are planted and not always think life is better elsewhere.

Or so I thought that was my lesson.

I eventually headed out of the busy store and into the even busier parking lot. I was no longer rushed. I already lost my little quest to save time, so I might as well just be leisurely and prioritize not getting hit by a vehicle over saving a few nanoseconds by hurrying. 

After carefully loading my hatchback, I turned around to see an SUV waiting for my spot. But I had to put my cart away, so I proceeded to push it past him on his passenger side, only for him to roll down the window and holler, “Can you hurry it up, lady?!”

Yep, I continued to be humbled. Turns out we’re all competing in this losing battle to save time. 

When I looked into his vehicle, I found not some rude stranger, but a coworker who I absolutely adored. He was messing with me, and we both burst out laughing. Once he found a different spot (I still had to put my cart away), he and his wife came over and we ended up chatting for several long, wonderful minutes in the glorious sunshine. I know that if I had never changed lines back in the store, I would’ve been out of the parking lot long before this friend of mine arrived. Our paths never would have crossed, and we wouldn’t have been able to encourage one another as we did.

Do you ever feel like God wants you to learn a stern lesson (don’t always think your line is the slowest one, or rather: that your place in life is not as good as your neighbor’s), only to find out He wants to redeem your mistake? What if, instead of getting bent out of shape because your plan did not go as planned, you opened yourself up to the ways God wants to surprise you with blessings as things unfold on His timeline?

" … God, who is rich in mercy …" Ephesians 2: 4

"Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s."
Psalm 103: 2-5

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Monday, March 14, 2016

To Think or Feel This Instant!

I like to know stuff. 

I like to know the number of people in a crowded room, the number of calories in my food, the number of dollars I’m saving when something is a certain percentage off. I may be a bit OCD, but I don’t think I’m alone in my quest to know stuff, numbers or not. We seek knowledge as though our lives depend on it. Some are voracious readers, others are voracious talkers (you know who you are) – all in an effort to gain or exchange data. Information. Fuel for our fires to keep us moving forward in this life, to make wise decisions, to become more well-rounded people.

But when it comes to matters of the heart, I am idle. It seems my feelings happen TO me, not as a result of any effort on my part to pursue them. Someone compliments me? Happiness. Someone ignores me? Hurt. Someone smiles at me? Warm fuzzies. Someone criticizes me? Hurt again. All throughout the day, it seems my feelings are handed to me. And so my life becomes a rollercoaster of feelings that merely respond to what I’m given by factors outside of my control.

These are fleshly ways of living in the natural world. But what if the spiritual could infuse the natural? What if instead of diligently pursuing earthly knowledge with our intellect, we chose to ask and wait for the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the thoughts of God? What if we carved out time and space, silence and stillness to listen to Him as we seek not our own wisdom, but His? 

And what if instead of waiting passively for “good feelings” to be handed to us by the people in our lives, we instead pursued inner joy, abundant love, and consistent contentment in Christ as though our lives depended on it? What if matters of the soul became our priority? How might life begin to change for us, and how much might we begin to change for life?

“All the kings of the earth sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart.” 2 Chronicles 9:23

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Eat Right This Instant!

Some people eat to live and others live to eat. 

I am a proud member of the latter group. Those who belong to the former group leave me literally dumbfounded. I do not understand how food can be an afterthought, or how eating can be a chore one has to remember to do in order to get through the day. That is foreign to me. I live to eat.

True confessions, though. As a self-professed foodie, I can’t say I actually know anything about food. I’m no good at discerning flavors or spices or knowing what goes into a dish to make it amazing. I just like it. I admire it, I savor it, I talk about it, I delight in it. Food makes me happy!

The kind of food that entices me, however, is rather particular. Let’s face it. In America we can make our diets consist of just about anything we want. We can be fast food freaks, packaged and processed people, organic purists, whole and raw food champions, gluten/dairy/sugar or fat-free fanatics. The choice is ours. It is, in fact, easy to feast on some things and avoid others all together. In addition to food costs and our lifestyle, our daily intake is also influenced by allergies, preferences, and tastes. Much goes into our dietary decisions.

The same holds true for the food we feed our spirits. I recently thought I had a healthy diet of spiritual nourishment, only to have the Lord point out that I was actually starving myself from what I truly needed. I was going to church every Sunday. I went to work every day at a Christian organization. I surrounded myself with Christian friends. I skimmed passages of the Bible in the morning. I even listened to Christian music when I felt like it. BAM! A nice, well-rounded Christian diet, right?

While there is nothing wrong with those things, they’re actually more like snacks. You can graze on snacks and enjoy them and they do benefit you, but the problem was that I was skipping meals. Meals are where the essential nutrients come from. The catch is that meals, by nature, take more work than snacks. Wholesome, nourishing meals require forethought, preparation, space and, of course, lots of time. And that, for me, was the rub. I wanted a faith that moved as fast as my life. I thought grab-n-go Christianity could sustain me.

The meal my soul was craving was time with the Lord. Sweet, rich, quiet and still time in His presence. I had been refusing to sit down with Him and just BE. To talk to Him, but more importantly – for me – to listen to Him. I didn’t think His Word could teach me anything new since I’d “read it before,” an all-out affront to the truth that God’s Word is “living and active” and meets us right where we’re at. I’m sad to say I was neglecting the meat in my diet, my very relationship with Jesus, thinking sugary and salty snacks could sustain me.

What are you feeding your spirit these days? Have you been favoring processed foods over whole foods? Have you been powering through on empty calories? What if all the essential proteins, vitamins and nutrients that will rejuvenate you are only a bite away?

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
Psalm 34:8

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

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