“All I have to do is Act Naturally” NOT

“All I have to do is Act Naturally” NOT

“Acting Naturally” for me is, unfortunately, completely contrary to being God’s man. What to do? What to do? Well, “to do” is the key…

“Doing” for me is not – or is no longer – something that comes naturally. I like to sit, to think, to write, to watch, to rest in the sun (like our grown-old dog, Poochie – that’s him above, going for a walk). Featured Image -- 14820I’ve written before about my struggles with following up planning with doing. This morning, I’m contemplating this in a new way. (See? Just pondering…) But I’d like to think that writing this post is, in fact, completing a process. (After all, “to be” a writer is my goal – it is what I want “to be doing.”)

Certainly, I can speculate about why I tend toward inactivity. For most of 2015-2016, I was hospitalized or in physical rehabilitation from severe health conditions. kid-leashI can see, too, a family history, perhaps because my parents grew up during the depression and their parents’ way of not spending was just not doing. (I do have to point out, however, that this led to frequently getting together with extended family, which is and has been a good thing.) Then, there are those stories about me being tied to a tree or kept on one of those kid-leashes. (I shudder at the thought – what could more effectively Pavlovianly limit a person’s desire to go and do?)

The virtue that I think defines the follow-through I’m missing is diligence. So, to start this morning’s topic, I searched BibleGateway.com for it in the AMP translation. The first hit was

Proverbs 4:23
Watch over your heart with all diligence,
for from it flow the springs of life.

At first glance, this didn’t seem of help to me in becoming active. On further thought, though, this watching over my heart is an action at the root of my issue. To me, it infers not closing my eyes to God’s standard, which is not my own, which takes a big effort to follow. (My major addiction, sex, is a perfect example. Keeping to God’s standard for human sexuality continues to be a huge unnatural thing for me, but that’s another post.)

Further down the list of search returns were these verses:

IMG_3765Psalm 119:4
You have ordained your precepts,
That we should follow them
With [careful] diligence.

Proverbs 12:27
The lazy man does not catch and roast his prey,
But the precious possession of a [wise] man is diligence,
[Because he recognizes opportunities and seizes them.]

Now, these get to the heart of the matter! My preference is for the lazy river, but life and growth happen more consistently in the rapids. The noun, precept, is defined as “a general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought.” It derives from the Latin words prae + capere, “before” and “take,” which were combined to form praecipere, meaning “warn, instruct.” If there is anything that should alert us addicts especially, it is a “warning.” (The trouble I find is that I always want to know “why?” and then I feel obligated to put it to the test, guaranteeing my learning it the hard way.)

This is one of those “easier said than done” things, summed up nicely in Ephesians 5:15-17:

 

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me, about to mow for the first time in years!

Therefore see that you walk carefully [living with honor, purpose, and courage, shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people],
Making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil.
Therefore, do not be foolish or thoughtless, but understand and firmly grasp what the will of the Lord is (ME: and not your own will). 

Walking carefully and grasping firmly are both very conscious actions. In them, we are advised to be more than normally aware, to check and recheck ourselves, to not be habitual and thoughtless, to not forget because my mind is wandering. (This may be what is meant by “staying in the moment?”)

effortThere’s a fear here: to always be choosing, deciding? Every second of every minute of every hour of every day?! Not only does it sound impossible to do, the very attempt sounds absolutely exhausting. “No rest for the weary?” What a burden it seems!

So I searched on “peace rest.” The answer that was given is the whole point to faith and belief in Christ:

Come to me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation].
Matthew 11:28

Life in this world is not easy. It was never meant to be easy or thoughtless. As a follower of Christ, I am constantly tempted by the world’s “easy way,” and, when the effort of following becomes too much, Christ is my refuge. By focusing on him and not on the weight of the world, I can “do this.”

img_3337IMG_3741
First, we walk, then we run. Then we soar on wings like eagles.

Here’s a great song that expresses my feelings today. It’s Worn by Tenth Avenue North.
Buy the digital download here..

Why Do I Fear NOT Turning Back?

Why Do I Fear NOT Turning Back?

My Dear Readers,

I’m in need of encouragement. Today, something may happen that will have an immeasurable psychological impact on my comfort level. I “say” I am a writer and blogger as a means of earning my way; it may come to a point where I have no other choice. Or chance.

Thorin: “You’re afraid.”
Balin: “Yes! Yes, I fear for YOU…”
– The Hobbit, The Desolation of Smaug

You see, my self is ever mired in James 1:8 (a double-minded man). I desire, and believe (help my unbelief!) that God has called me – and literally paved the way – to a life of service to others via Sharing His Story in my life. But I do love my padded golden cage, and this makes me consistently irresolute. Shamefully, I don’t/can’t/won’t fully trust Him.

“When he reached the New World, Cortez burned his ships.
As a result his men were well motivated.”
Remius, The Hunt For Red October

Quite often, I lack motivation to pursue this vision intensely. I’m pretty laid back in mood and effort – perhaps even lackadaisical? It is, so to speak, the way I am. I avoid all or nothing scenarios. (Yet I believe that is the way Christians are led to live. Be Living Believing.)

And these past few years of recovering (on disability) from severe health issues (with a few more years to go before I am transplanted back into the “real” world) have been made safe by not one, but two, fallbacks. (If I fail to earn a living as a writer/blogger/speaker, I have job – to me, a four-letter word – leads.) But suddenly, Plans B and C are in jeopardy, before Plan A has really gotten started.

“Follow your bliss.”
“Where you stumble, there your treasure lies.”
– Joseph Campbell

I’m certain you all will understand my fear of not turning back. Dare I risk the certain discomfort and stress of risking all? Of forcing myself into a life of making my bliss a “should/have to do” instead of “enjoy/want/like to do”? Of committing to this one thing? (How long can one keep all options open?)

The thing is, my life IS a story of repeated miraculous provision – those just-in-(God’s)-time rescues. The evidence throughout my past is refutable. We’ve never not had our basic needs abundantly filled. I have every reason to

Trust in the Lord with all [my] heart and lean not on [my] own understanding;
– Proverbs 3:5-6

He has made my paths straight (although kind of like a stock market uptrend), yet I still resist submitting 100% to him.

It pays to take life seriously;
things work out when you trust in God.
– Proverbs 16:20

Dear Followers, you have read some of my “work” (it hasn’t felt like toil). I need assurance that it “sells”. Is it worthy? Please comment. Can you make me sure?

The only bad decision is no decision, because it leads to inaction.”
– Jonathan Fields

The featured image is our senior kitty, Squeaks, who came to interrupt my writing this post. Kind of just like the doubt and fear that hampers me figuratively.

Undeserved Privilege

“White Privilege”. There, I said it. It’s been burning in my mind for several days now, after a friend posted a meme that stressed the words, “We whites”. I responded in an un-Christian manner, because that phrase really got to me. Let me tell you why (but first, let me sincerely apologize for my manners. You know who you are.)

Using the pronoun “we” in conjunction with anything is to include yourself and myself. In the case of a negative thing, this amounts to accepting (or even claiming) responsibility. In the case of today’s socio-economic situation, this is most definitely undeserved guilt. To give a sense of why, I quote from a movie:

“None of us took this city from Muslims. No Muslim of the great army now coming against us was born when this city was lost. We fight over an offence we did not give, against those who were not alive to be offended.”
Balian of Ibelin, Kingdom of Heaven

The only one capable of taking on undeserved guilt was Jesus Christ. It was The Undeserved Privilege of all time, and He did it willingly. I will not boast that I am able to do so great a thing. In short, you and I are not responsible for the way the world is, and I take offense at any words to that effect.

The only undeserved privilege I have ever had is to be chosen by God, The Creator, to receive His gifts of faith and a changed heart. Faith is what made everything in my life different. It makes everything in my life worthwhile – no matter my circumstances. Frankly, it bothers me when I’m accused of being given something others do not have the equal opportunity to experience, or that I am somehow to blame – guilty only by association – for their lack. Is this a Christian view? Yes! To be Christian is to have an individual relationship with God; to realize a personal need for salvation, and then to serve others who are in need, so that others may hear and see this Good News through my words and actions. Meanwhile, I hold quite enough guilt for the evil I have actually done. I struggle to grow beyond it.

1 Peter 1:14 ERV
In the past you did not have the understanding you have now. So you did the evil things you wanted to do. But now you are Children of God, so you should can obey Him and not live the way you did before.

How aptly this verse describes me! Falling for my selfish desires, I did do harm – but to myself and to those closest to me, not to any I have never met. This is my guilt. By my own hand I descended into a perversion of life, and that is where God found me and from where He saved me. And He continues to strengthen me, one day at a time.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 ESV
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

God wants all people to be saved – not from having challenges here on earth but from falling to them, from failing to get up again. There is no doubt that life will have struggles, but it is fact that God yearns for us to turn to Him for help to rise above. He stands beside everyone of us, ready, willing, and able to lavishly give faith, encouragement, strength, and hope to lift us to our feet, whatever our situation.

John 16:33 NIV
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

I see this faith in people from all walks of life and all geographies and all economic and health conditions. This confirms to me that God is working to make salvation available to anyone. To everyone. The only lack one needs to realize is the lack of God in one’s life. And with God present (and with His presents), believers are equipped to work for what is truly worthy and important, giving and sharing from whatever their bounty is.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Without God, I self-destructed. With Him, I live. I accept what is, and, knowing my starting line, I am guided forward. I take my place as a member of the Body of Christ, with my own situation, talents, and purpose – to voluntarily share, Christlike, sacrificing only what I have been given in abundance. This is my privilege.