Chasing God

Peter hawk

It seems like I try too hard. My husband tells me that all the time. Close friends say it too. And yes, I’ve heard God whisper it to my heart quite a few times. I’m like that little puppy dog who chases his tail and falls over, worn out and dizzy.

A rather silly example: We have a hawk named Peter (yes, I named him, and no he’s not really ours). Peter has been flying around and landing in our yard for the past two months, and I’ve been chasing after him (not literally!) in order to get a picture of him.

But nearly every time Peter shows up, my camera is in the other room, or I’ve got on the wrong lens, or I forgot to delete some pictures and that little card that holds a thousand or so photos is blinking “full,” refusing to let me squeeze in just one more picture. Sheesh. Chasing him down for one picture has been a real chore and has left me with his oh-so-lovely, and yet blurry, portrait you see above.  🙂

We chase a lot of things, don’t we? Maybe not literally but we sometimes over-analyze, over-think, and maybe try too hard or worry too much about things we think we should have or need to get done. It’s kind of like chasing butterflies with a pole and no net; exhausting and unproductive.

And sometimes when we get tired of all that running around and chasing after things, well, we’re not above using a hammer to smash those square pegs of our lives into those round holes just to try to make something come together. We like it when things come together. When things are happening and moving forward.

But when it comes to God, we don’t have to try so hard. (Cue happy dance!) We don’t have to work ourselves into a tired frenzy. We don’t have to chase God down like He’s running away from us. It’s not like this is some sort of hide-and-seek game and He’s cheating, hurrying off to find another hiding place when we get too close.

God wants a relationship with us even more than we want one with Him. All we have to do is honestly seek Him.

And when we do, guess what? We’re going to find Him. And we’re probably going to discover that we need to take a moment and catch our breath.

Not because we were chasing Him down and we’re winded, but because being in His very presence can leave us breathless and totally in awe.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV.)

You Matter Too

you matter too

When I was much (MUCH) younger I used a yellow hair brush as a microphone and sang to my reflection in the mirror hanging on my bedroom wall. I won’t tell you my favorite group at the time only to spare more giggles, but I will admit it was a popular 80’s band.  I would sing those songs to myself and have a great time, glancing every so often at my door to make sure my brother wasn’t trying to take a peek to gather ammunition for a later date.

Ahem. Moving right along past that embarrassing image to a lesson God has been teaching me recently: sometimes we need to look into the mirror.  I’m not talking about serenading ourselves or admiring how cool we look when we lip sync our favorite tunes with all the facial expressions we can muster to give a great performance. And I’m not referring to spending hours working on fussy hair or applying layers of makeup.

Sometimes we need to look in the mirror simply to remind ourselves that we matter too.

This isn’t putting ourselves in the #1 slot of our priority list (not hardly), it’s simply making sure we make it on the list. It’s acknowledging we have physical bodies that need attention. (Note to self: Stop eating all those chocolate eggs and have a decent lunch…no, that cold piece of pizza doesn’t count.) We have emotions that are like fragile bottles full of different colors of sand; delicate and in balance until too much shaking (not enough sleep, not eating right) can mix them all up, even bring them crashing and spilling on the floor. When that happens, we also come crashing down in a heap on the floor in tears, wondering why we feel all out of sorts. And we each have a spirit that needs rejuvenated by sitting at the feet of Christ like Mary (Martha’s sister) did, ignoring a pressing to-do list. Time with our Lord is like fresh air when the world is trying to suffocate us.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the oxygen masks on airplanes, that you’re instructed to slip on your own mask before assisting others.

If you’re running around all stressed out and doing your best to help everyone you know strap on their “oxygen masks” without making sure yours is on, well, how long can you operate on that stale air, those leftover fumes burning in your lungs before you collapse?

So take a moment and look into that mirror. Take a deep breath and a good, hard look at yourself. Perhaps you’ll notice the dark flesh under your eyes and those smile lines just sitting there on your face, unused. Maybe you’ve got a few hives on your cheeks from eating too much dairy-infused chocolate (or maybe that’s just me!). Or perhaps you’ll notice a deep well of sadness in your eyes, one you’ve been pretty good at hiding from nearly everyone around you.

But you’re not hiding any of it from God. You can’t hide it from Him. And He doesn’t like seeing you run-down, worn-out, and exhausted.  He sees how you’re treating yourself, and He never intended for you to be at the bottom of some list.  He knows you have people counting on you, those you care for.  He wants to help you take care of them.

You may feel alone like the weight is all yours to carry and no one understands what you must do on a daily basis just to get by. Perhaps there are some days you feel like you’re sinking in mud up to your eyeballs, totally stuck, helpless. And you can barely breathe.

My friend, God knows, and He will help you in ways you can’t even imagine. Call out to Him and ask. He knows you don’t like to ask for help.  He knows why, too.  But if you will just trust Him, let Him lift some of that weight off of your shoulders, let Him check off some of those tasks on your list, you’ll be able to breathe a lot easier.  (Note to self and YOU: Don’t turn away God’s help because it isn’t what you expected.)

No, things won’t be perfect on this side of eternity. But you will be able to smile again and be a little more tender with those God placed in your life to love. Who knows, you may even be able to breathe so much easier that you’ll have enough oxygen left over to dance in the living room when no one is looking.  No lip syncing, hairbrush, or mirror required. Just your loving Father who knows how badly you need to understand that you, His precious and one-of-a-kind child, matter too.

Especially to Him.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7 ESV.)

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” (3 John 1:2 NIV.)

“Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39 NLT.) [Emphasis my own.]

“The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, ‘Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.’ For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat.” (Mark 6:30-45 MSG.)

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT.)

 

 

 

 

 

Guilt or Love?

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I don’t know about you, but sometimes I allow guilt to tag along and even climb up on my back. (Keep in mind, guilt is not the same thing as conviction where we’re definitely going against God’s will, and He’s letting us know about it.)

Guilt is like this monster with jagged teeth crunching when it whispers in my ear, insisting I’m doing it all wrong and reminding me how I’ve failed so many people. And every time I listen to it, it’s like it’s feeding off of me, getting heavier as my soul starves and I lose more of myself.

I’m pretty tired of it. I’m pretty tired of worrying about what other people think and the guilt that I’m letting someone down no matter what I’m doing.  I’m tired of trying to live up to other people’s expectations of what my life should look like.  I’m tired, tired, tired.

Am I the only one who feels this way? I don’t think I am or God wouldn’t have brought this up to me when I prayed and asked Him what He wanted this post to be about.  So let me ask you:  Are you hauling around the same guilt monster who’s getting bigger and bigger and you’re wondering how long you can last under its weight, wondering how long before it crushes you completely?  What in the world are we supposed to do?  I’ve been praying…

We stop focusing on people and really fix our eyes on God. It sounds easy.  It makes sense.  But doing it is a whole other thing.  That means when someone asks and maybe even expects you to do something, you go to God first and ask Him what you should do.  If He says, “Yes,” then go ahead.  But if He says, “No” or you don’t have any peace about it, then respectfully decline.  Be very clear that you are honestly trying to follow God’s plan for your life.  If people get mad at you for that, pray for them.  They’re probably hauling around the guilt monster’s cousin, overload.

Let me be clear. I’m NOT saying we shouldn’t serve and help others.  We absolutely should!  But if we are motivated by guilt and not love, are we really serving others or are we just trying to outrun the monster?

How can you tell if you’re motivated by love or guilt? Are you praying and asking God to lead you in all you do or are you so worried about letting others down that you run ahead of Him and agree to things without waiting on Him for an answer?

Here’s an example He showed me: If you were to give someone flowers out of guilt, the flowers may as well be dead.  There’s no love, only obligation as if you were saying, “Here.  I did this for you.  You’re welcome,” as you walk away feeling relieved.

But if you’re serving out of love it would be like picking flowers for someone because you saw something beautiful you wanted to share with that person. There’s excitement and joy in giving those flowers.  There is no guilt involved, only love for that person.  (Monster?  What monster?  Love is the antidote that makes it shrivel up and fall right off your back!)

And we shouldn’t feel guilt when we seek God and refuse to be sucked into the people-pleasing centrifuge. You know, where you’re stuck against the wall and you can’t move or do anything new, not even what God has gifted or called you to do.  You’re stuck doing the same thing or stuck doing all the things other people bring to you to do.  What about what God wants you to do?  There will be no time for that.  You’ll be too busy focusing on the crowd around you, their demands, and their wants while God waits.  Maybe the world is waiting too.  Waiting for you to show up and be who God created you to be, and who we all need you to be.

“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”  (Galatians 1:10 NLT.)