These are a few of my favorite things: peaches, pho, fresh coffee, clean sheets, snuggling with my kids, a good read, a heartfelt conversation, prayer, . . . . . And one generality that holds true for all of these things is “staying fresh”. For example, I recently bought like two boxes of peaches because I know that we are coming to the end of peach season & I ABSOLUTELY LOVE peaches. But the problem is that these peaches are getting “tired” – not as good as when they’re at the peak of freshness & season. Pho is another example of keeping stuff fresh – whenever I bring home leftover pho & it sits in the refrigerator, it gets gross.
I think this is also true in our relationship with Jesus. A stale, old and tired walk with Jesus can get pretty ugly. So here are a few ideas that could be helpful in keeping fresh with Jesus:
Bible reading: change your translation from time to time
spiritual conversations: talk with a friend about Jesus and what you like about Him
take a bath: sometimes we need to wash off some dirt & road wear;
fasting / prayer: periodically, it helps me to do something extra (fast a meal or a few days, take a lunch to pray, look for someone for whom to pray
time: it always takes my breath away when I consider that God considers my presence to be a present ,)
I often find myself in the predicament of needing more time & less work. Deadlines, responsibilities, demands, schedules, timelines and the like seem to eat into the 24 hours in each day with nibbles, bites and giant chomps. I used to think that God messed up with the 24 hour thing until I read in Genesis 1:31 about how God said that everything He made (including time) was very good. So here are some helpful thoughts about time being very good:
time is our daily reminder that while we are limited & finite, God is not & God knows the beginning from the end
time helps us to get things done – sometimes pressure is good
there are many people in the Bible who only grew into their destiny because time was an essential ingredient: Joseph, Moses, David, Jacob, Hannah & lots more 🙂
time is an integral part of what God established with the whole Sabbath rest principle
I was eating a really tasty homegrown tomato this morning & it reminded me of my dad, who totally loved tomatoes! One year, I remember he planted more than 100 tomato plants, hoping for a bumper crop!! Some things never changed with my dad: strong coffee with cream & sugar, loving people, finding a priceless treasure for cheap, homegrown tomatoes & lots more. As my dad aged, he seemed to appreciate change less and less. That’s the tricky part – life is all about change: our bodies change, the government changes, we have to change cars, sometimes our clothes stop fitting & LOTS more!
But here are some things that NEVER, EVER, EVER change:
God’s love for you never increases or decreases – it’s continual & consistent
time – it doesn’t stop nor slow down no matter how our perceptions change
the need that humanity has for God – humans always need genuine love, full stop
We all have various things that we have to get done by various deadlines, along with schedules that we have to keep with dates & times that must be managed. What I find interesting about time is that God doesn’t seem to see time with our eyes or values – seems logical since God made time.
In our lives, we all have various deadlines of which God is thoroughly aware. And while I must be responsible & steward my time wisely, I must also understand that I’ve give God my days & not just my life. So from time to time, I remind myself that I’m on God’s schedule not the other way around 🙂
In the last few days, I’ve been thinking about the quality of various decisions that I make – not just with big decisions but also with what seems to be little decisions. It seems that when I get under some heavy pressure that I can tend to let the quality of my little decisions deteriorate under the guise of letting off steam (staying up later than normal, drinking coffee at 5pm, eating crummy food, playing on the computer rather than working out & more). I totally understand that we all need some outlets to just “be”. However, when I make mediocre quality decisions I shouldn’t expect outrageous quality results.
So I’m challenging myself to make higher quality decisions & to be better disciplined with my time & energies – quality decisions = quality outcomes 🙂
We pay attention to lots of different things: the bell on our phone that tells us we have a text message, the street light as we wait for it to turn red, our mate when they need help, our boss when they’re giving us our Performance Review, etc. There are lots of things to which we give our attention & not all of those things have a good return on investment, if you think about “paying” your attention as a means of investment.
So in my opinion, there are some are some attention non-negotiables, like our family, job, school, etc. For our optional attention, I’d suggest that we should be mindful to what we pay attention & make sure that the return on our attention is worth what we’ve paid. To me, paying attention to God isn’t an optional choice – I’ve found that I consistently need God involved throughout my life & I’ve never regretted paying attention to God. His return on investment far exceeds the attention that I pay to Him ,)
I’ve been reading about Joseph in the Bible & this morning I was going through the part where he translates the dreams of the baker & cupbearer. At the end of his dream translation, he asks them to help him to get out of jail since he was wrongly put there. The cupbearer was restored back his royal position & promptly forgot about Joseph. So Joseph got to rot in jail for probably a few more years.
Here’s my point: sometimes when we’re impatient & neglect to wait for God’s timing, sometimes we settle for 2nd best when we should have waited for God’s best. If the cupbearer would have gotten Joseph out of jail, as he had requested, perhaps Joseph wouldn’t have been available to interpret Pharoah’s dreams & ultimately to save the life of his family & the future of the Jewish nation.
Let’s understand that God knows the times, seasons & purposes of our lives better than we do & He is certainly trustworthy with time, since He made it in the first place ,)
I find that its really important to have times to rejuvenate & perhaps these few days are for exactly that purpose. Like virtually everyone else, it seems like December is normally packed to the gills with activities, festivities, parties, obligations & general frenzied demands. But after Christmas, there seems to be an accepted pause or exhale. For me, this break in activity is very rejuvenating. It helps me to have some space & time to think, listen, be still, enjoy my family, sleep, read, cook simple things, talk long w best friends and stay warm under a heavy blanket.
I know that soon enough, the pace will again commence & I’ll get back into the regular groove & routines. But for this time to pause, I’m thankful. Furthermore, perhaps when we take time to “sharpen the saw” maybe our work efforts will be more effective & less arduous 😀
It seems to me that the holiday season increases the pressures on my life, based on many add’l activities & responsibilities (Christmas programs, special meals, house projects, present wrapping, etc). Maybe your life has some similar dynamics & demands. Should you find yourself in seasons that have alot of pressure, here are some ideas that have helped me:
simplify & prioritize: things that aren’t as important need to drop much lower on the “must do” list
keep core / central relationships healthy: make the extra effort to communicate clearly, or the stress from these relationships can be very draining
remember that you are deeply loved by Jesus: you are always on His mind, in His thoughts & you always capture His eye
minimize the noise & clutter – if something isn’t necessary & soothing consider reducing or eliminating it
give yourself permission to get a coffee / tea & exhale or take a deep breath
take some moments each day to celebrate Jesus in your life – more ideas to follow on this point
Feel free to add some more thoughts on how to constructively deal with pressure 🙂
My boys woke up fairly early this morning & we’ve been sitting together reading a little bit. They were just discussing between them what we could make for breakfast, given what we’ve had over the last few days (french toast, bacon, pancakes, etc). They’re thinking of making cinnamon toast & I’m pushing for scrambled eggs for a protein boost. Nevertheless, there are many different options for today’s breakfast 🙂
The same is true for God’s provisions in our lives. I’m learning that God’s provisions for me come in lots of different ways. Here are some of the varieties of ways that God provides in our lives:
time (unexpected cancelled activities, something takes less time than expected)
wisdom (creative ideas, insights, solutions, etc)
energy (strength in what has been draining)
quiet & still (these can be very rejuvenating)
encouragement & direction (even in small amounts & with 1 step at a time)
God’s presence – for me, there’s nothing more sustaining than when I am with God
So if you’re in a season that seems short on supply, perhaps it might be an interesting exercise to reconsider the various ways that God does supply for us 🙂