Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Taste of Freedom

I tend to react to life.  This can be a good thing.  A car cuts me off at the intersection, I hit the brakes. That is good.  My coffee cup tips and I catch it  before it falls all the way over, very good!  What about when your phone rings while you are driving.  How about a friend sharing an urgent need.  Your child is in trouble...again.  Bad news in the mail. Three projects due the same day.  You have no toilet paper. (okay, that one is fairly urgent)  So many scenarios that need attention right now.

There is a booklet titled, The Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles E. Hummel.  In this he shares, "Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important." How often are we at the mercy of our circumstances?  We see or hear a need and feel we are the only answer, we must take care of it. Hummel also writes, "It is not God who loads us until we bend or crack with an ulcer, nervous breakdown, heart attack, or stroke.  These come from our inner compulsions coupled with the pressure of circumstances." Dear one, this is not how we are meant to live.  We are  meant to live free.

Great, but how do we then live?  I just found out.  Want to know?  Respond.  I think this word just might change my life.  Think about the difference between reacting and responding.  Reacting can lead to thoughtless actions, doing something in our own strength, or doing something meant for another.  We feel trapped, pressured, stressed. Responding means that we still give our attention to the situation, but maybe after a moment of prayer and clarity the Holy Spirit can lead us into the right action.  Then we feel free.

I tested this today.  And I had a taste of freedom.  I was on the phone with my sister (yes, I was driving, but it was on speaker).  We were trying to figure out how to help our parents.  Mom was having a pretty rough day, I won't go into detail but it was definitely feeling urgent.  I said, let me get to where I'm going, pray, and I'll call you back with a decision.  Now typically, my thoughts would have raced...a dozen plans merging and me hoping to grab the right one, feeling trapped, pressured, stressed. Instead of reacting though, I chose to respond.  After I picked up my son and prayed about it, I felt the best thing would be to go by and check on my parents.  This seems small, but by the time the decision was made, my heart was at peace...I was free to do just what was needed.  My heart was filled with compassion and purpose.  If I had given in to reacting, I would have grabbed one of the dozen options, raced to my parents and felt defeated.

Did you notice the difference?  Reacting can lead into a life of almost constant panic depending on the circumstances.  But a life of responding, is a life fully dependent on the Lord's leading, a life of freedom.  Test it yourselves and let me know if we've discovered something great.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

God is Good (all the time?)

Recently, there have been some favorable answers from God in regard to requests that have been made by some of my fellow believers. Friends have been healed, sickness has been diverted, money supplied, protection given..."God is good" is the frequent response. And He is.  Oh how we rejoice in His goodness toward us!  Yet, what do we say when things don't go as we had hoped?  What about when a child dies, when a job is lost, when healing isn't given yet, when a marriage falls apart, when grief refuses to leave our hearts or when God says "no".  What I've said is: I wish I had a magic wand to take this pain away or I'm sorry God hasn't answered yet.

The thing is...the response to the good news, God is good, is true.  The response we give to bad news is usually false pretense.  Why don't we say "God is good" when someone shares a heartache?  It seems when we are at that point of suffering, hearing truth is all we need, yet it is rarely given.  We are stumped for words and end up saying something ridiculous that we wish we could take back later (or am I the only one??).   I'm not proposing we heartlessly shirk off pain with a "God is still good, get over it" remark.  I just need to remember that God is good no matter my circumstances.  God is good when our hearts are broken.  God is good when this life just doesn't make sense (and boy is that often).  God is good all the time, because all the time...God is good.

When others behave badly to us, it should only stir us up the more heartily to give thanks unto the Lord, because He is good; and when we ourselves are conscious that we are far from being good, we should only the more reverently bless Him that He is good. We must never tolerate an instant’s unbelief as to the goodness of the Lord; whatever else may be questioned, this is absolutely certain, that Jehovah is good; His dispensations may vary, but His nature is always the same. (C. H. Spurgeon).