Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Unforced Rhythm of Grace

What was I thinking?

Those were my first thoughts when I tried to get out of bed early this morning. Everything hurts! I feel pretty sore - probably because I've made the decision, again, to start working out harder. I've enjoyed the class I'm attending but I'm being reminded with every step, every movement, that I'm paying for the time I spent not working out consistently over the past couple of years.

Seems I'm slow to learn the lesson that I am being taught so often these days: When you take time away from fitness, you lose your fitness. You are more sore. You are less flexible. You are more tired. And you know better.  It takes a few weeks to make a habit and I feel like just before I get to the place where it's a habit, I always find excuses not to continue. But I'm busy. I'm tired. I'm worn out. I'm....well, you get the picture.

It's kind of like this with my spiritual life, too, sometimes. I find myself slipping away from God, away from His church, away from His Word, not listening to His voice. I find myself more weary. I'm less hope-filled. My focus turns to the negative. And I know better. But I'm busy. I'm tired. I'm worn out. I'm....well, you get the picture.

Why is it so hard to do the things that are the most important for us? Why must it be so hard to do the things that matter most? Maybe it's because we need to want it more than anything else and sometimes wanting something important over wanting something comfortable and easy can be tricky. And it's easy to lose sight of that in this busy world. But what do we really want?

It's so hard to get in the habit of going to church and so easy to lose it.

It's so hard to be still and spend time listening for God's voice and so easy to ignore it.

It's so hard to pray and so easy to lose my focus.

It's so hard to do the right thing and stand for Truth and so easy to compromise.

It's so hard to go to the gym and so easy to stay home.

Life can be so hard.

But it doesn't have to be.

There is a place you reach in your spiritual and physical life where it's not hard to do these things anymore, it's actually harder not to do them. I think it's called the unforced rhythm of grace. And it is possible to live in that rhythm! Here's the formula:

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Things Are Not Always What They Seem....

Have you ever noticed that when someone is out in the sun and they get a little bit of color on them, everyone says, "Oh, you look so healthy!"  Strange, it's true - sun can make someone look like they have a healthy glow.  However, the "healthy glow" we see is, in reality, evidence of damaged and very unhealthy skin.  So what we are seeing is really not so healthy, after all.  Over time, it can cause sun spots, aging of the skin, wrinkles and even cancer! 

What we see can sometimes deceive us into thinking things that are not necessarily true.  Like when we look at someone and judge from their appearance.  Sometimes it comes in the form of someone with tattoos, a nose ring and spiked hair.  Or, perhaps we look at someone who is absolutely gorgeous and fit and we think they have their lives all together without a problem in the world.  Sometimes it comes in the form of someone who is "the least of these".  There's a great example of this in the Bible (actually many) but today I'm specifically thinking of the story of a young teenager named David.

At first glance, you wouldn't think he'd be much to look at.  He was a shepherd of his father's flock and spent all of his time outdoors.  You read in 1 Samuel 16 that he was not even considered when the prophet Samuel came looking for the next King of Israel.  His father, Jesse, paraded all of his big, strong, burly brothers in front of the prophet thinking that he was looking for one of them.  But Samuel said, "Are these all the sons you have?"  Jesse thought for a moment and just half-halfheartedly said, "Well, there is still the youngest, but he's out tending to the sheep and goats."

As soon as Samuel saw David, he knew that he was the one God wanted to anoint as the King of Israel.  Everyone must have been so confused!  David?  Why him?  What did he have that the others did not have?  In 1 Samuel 16:7 it says that God doesn't judge by appearances or height, he doesn't see things the way we do.  He looks at the heart.  David would be known as a man after God's own heart. 

God's ways are not like our ways.  As you go out into your day today, remember that what we see is not always the truth of the matter.  Looks can be deceiving. 

If someone cuts you off in traffic, it could be that they are on their way to the emergency room with a sick child and they are not thinking straight.  

If someone hurts you with their words, it could be that they have been hurt by words and they are just acting out.  Hurt people hurt people, you know.  

If you are the target of gossip, it could be that the person gossiping has such a poor opinion of his or herself that they must gossip in order to make themselves feel better. 

And if you see someone who seems to have it all together, don't assume they have need of nothing and don't need a friend or a kind word.  Sometimes they are the ones who need it most.

There are always some things I am not going to understand.  But one thing I do understand is that God's ways are not my ways, and everything and everyone He allows into my life has a purpose.  When I seek to understand what He might be teaching me in the moment instead of trying to place blame or draw my own conclusions, I can see a glimpse of God's ways in my everyday life.  

Got Questions?