Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Learning to Slow Down

I sprinted in high school. 

It wasn’t that I wanted to hurry through those years, I actually sprinted. 

I ran the 100 meter, the 400 meter, and the relays. Admittedly, I wasn’t as fast as everyone else, but I couldn’t last long enough to run cross country, so track it was, and the track I ran. 

Then, I went to college. I more than sprinted and I didn’t participate in any athletics. I finished a semester early. To be on pace was to average 12 units a semester. I took 21 units in my last. The end of college could not come fast enough. Do I regret it? No. I don’t regret starting my career early and having and edge and learning early what I didn’t want to do. Although, I do wish I spent a little more time getting to know me without a career first.

I stumbled a little bit. I hurried.

The same goes for life. 

I believe in the 10 steps forward of life, and the 4 steps back. 

Whether we realize it or not, we’re always hurrying something! If it can’t happen on our time, we’re mad, we’re frustrated, and we won’t back down. It’s at that moment, though, that we fall the hardest. We scrape our knees, our palms, and we scrunch up our foreheads, and we cry out in anger.

The truth is, we can’t hurry anything up! We have to do the work, but we can’t work harder than we’re made to, and we can’t make anything happen or anyone do anything any more quickly than the situation calls for or they are equipped to do so. 

Not only that, but some things just aren’t meant to be (maybe not now, and in some cases, not ever). I believe God is working in our lives to provide us the people who help us serve His purpose and weeds away the ones who don’t - regardless of what we think.  

Slow down. Pay attention to the view, because there are some awesome things happening around you and to you if you just pause for a moment. 

After we fall down, and we realize we’re fools for jumping ahead, the path clears just a little bit for us to see those four steps we fell back on. 

Slow down, but don’t wait. You’ll miss it if you don’t get back on your feet quick enough.

Pslam 139:16 (NIV)
“...All the days ordained for me
were written in your book 
before one of them came to be.”

Romans 12:12 (NIV)
“Be joyful in hope,
patient in affliction,
faithful in prayer.”

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Offering a Figurative Flashlight

If you’ve ever tried to drive somewhere you’ve never been without looking at directions first, you know what it’s like to be lost.

If you’ve been lost, then you probably know what it’s like to be scared, angry, and confused.

The impulse to get in the car and just drive sounds, at first, freeing, exhilarating, even. 

Yet, without a guide to help us along the way, that drive may quickly become chaotic and our mood might sour.

In the most simplest form, because we are people we have a world full of other people we can ask for direction! Whether you’re a person of faith now, not yet, or don’t believe at all, we all ask one another for counsel. 

It seems fitting then, when we see or recognize someone in the wilderness, that we offer up a figurative flashlight to help them out. If you’re a Christian, now’s the time to find support in the Word! The Bible is the best “map” we have for our emotional and spiritual dark moments. 

The last few months, and mostly in recent weeks, I’ve praying that I’d be aware of the opportunities to help anyone who needed it.

It happened this past weekend, with no real thought, but just an honest urge I found myself offering up help and encouragement. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, in fact, it’s the best time to remember how you’ve hurt and how you’ve grown. 

Then, of course, there are my loved ones and close friends for whom I will always offer up encouragement, provide a listening ear, and laugh with them as needed and I’ll never stop.

On a day-to-day basis, the key is in recognizing the grace in the moment you have to offer encouragement. It is no mistake that you’re the one who will be tugged to do so. You may be the only person that someone else will listen to, or you might be the only person who knows exactly what they’re feeling and you just don’t know it yet.

Our opportunities to serve don’t last long. If we blink, we may miss the moment.

Proverbs 3:28 (NIV)
"Do not say to your neighbor,
‘Come back later, I’ll give it to you tomorrow’ - 
when you now have it with you."

Matthew 7:7 (NIV)
"Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Growth Between the Years

Imagine the breath of new life between the years. It’s just one split second, a deep breath inhaled, and then relief with the exhilarating exhale.

When I pause for a second to think about the radical grace that we all have available to us, to live a second life, or a third life, or a fourth life, that’s how I feel. It’s exhilarating.

I’m between the years, I can almost imagine Jesus saying to us. 

How humbling it is to surrender the hurts and dark days of the past and let them fall on His shoulders, while we bask in the sunlight of His redeeming grace.

Growth is painful, and it can be scary, and when we try to hurry through it, we can trip up. It is true, that if we blink we might miss an opportunity. It is also true, we can only give God or anyone else as much of ourselves as we understand we can at that moment. Growth, then, can also be filled with a joy unlike any we’ve experienced before and peaceful. 

At the dawn of a new year, I tread lightly at the thought of using the word “resolutions” or “resolve,” but there are a few things I’d like to highlight as important in the coming days and months. At least, they’re important to me. 

They’re the same reminders I have on my refrigerator and I look at them each day. It’s a start! I first put it up about six months ago and now, I’ll add to it the following, and still expect the list to grow:

Encourage someone else
Find a reason to say ‘Thank You’
Remember the ‘I Love You’s’
Say, Do, Give, Love Anyway

Romans 8:28-29 (NIV)
“And we know that in all things God works
for the good of those who love him, who
have been called according to his purpose.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed
to the likeness of his Son.”

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV)
“And we, with unveiled faces all reflect
the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his
likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes
from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”