Monday, July 27, 2020

Worth the Living

Photo by Ethan Robertson on Unsplash
This has been a really odd summer.

Ok, we can all acknowledge that it's been a really hard year all around.


I'm a summer person.  I read summer novels all year long.  I go to the beach as often as I can.  I have an ocean background on my desktop.  I love the sun, swimming, ice cream, and just about everything summer.

But this summer has been different.  At first, it kind of snuck up on me, due to the time-warp feel that the spring had.  (I didn't even have shorts yet for the kids!) But, as we continued into it, our normal activities didn't happen.  The usual town events like the Memorial Day celebration, the fireworks display, the opening of the waterpark...the markers we usually look to for summer to begin.

We haven't been on any trips yet, due to fears over Covid.  The family and friends who usually visit all had to cancel.  So we are left with plenty of sun, but not too much "summer."

It's easy in all this to start to let the negative in.  Sure, I'm still wearing flip flops, and I have a tan, but it's hard to believe this is the summer we are going to remember in our Christmas card letters.

Last year, I had a big milestone birthday, and it got me thinking even more about my Bucket List and all of the places that I'd like to go and things I'd like to accomplish before I pass on to Heaven.

I was excited to get started right away, thinking of each summer as an opportunity to check off another item from my list.  Concerts, travel, writing...

Sadly, the pandemic has stopped a lot of my Bucket List items in their tracks.  Even my goal of developing deeper friendships hit a snag, because it's hard to hang out when everything's closed.  (I did get to finally see Hamilton, though, thank you Disney+!!)

Ok, now I know what you are probably thinking... can we just stay in bed for the next 5-12 months or so?  I feel ya!

Since my usual optimistic self has begun to toy around with the negative, I've tried to change my prayers to match.  God and I have been through a lot together this spring, but He hasn't left my side.  So, right now I'm asking Him for a new way of thinking.  I'm asking Him to change my attitude from wanting to fast-forward through the next year to wanting to walk through it, step by step, with Him.  Because, if I fast-forwarded through it, I'd miss so much.

I know I'd miss all of the ministry that God will do this year.  All of the opportunities to share His love and reach those who need His comfort and care.  I'd miss the chance to lead teens toward Christ and away from anxiety and depression.

Just because life seems to be on pause, God has not stopped working.  Therefore, I need to change my thinking.

Ephesians 4:23 says to "be made new in the attitude of your minds."

Our mind can shift and change with practice.  We can shift away from the negative and towards the positive that only He can bring.

We can choose to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable instead of the doom and gloom on the news. (Philippians 4:8)

The song, "Because He Lives," encourages us to keep up the hard work of faith:

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives

Although I might not cross off a whole lot of items from my Bucket List this year, I can live assured that I know the One who holds my future.  Maybe there are things that God will do this year that haven't even occurred to me yet.

I'm sure there will be!  And I want to stick around with Him to find out.

Let's remember to keep on keeping on, because life is worth the living, just because He lives...

Monday, July 13, 2020

Fixed on Jesus

Photo by D A V I D S O N L U N A on Unsplash
Margaret Feinberg so aptly wrote in her book, the Sacred Echo, that when God really wants to get your attention, He doesn't just say something once.  "The same idea, theme, impression, or lesson will repeat itself in surprising and unexpected ways until you realize that maybe, just maybe, God is at work." 

That happened to me this past week.  God has been teaching me to look upward and to look inward.  I've been realizing that I have been so focused on the challenges in my life, that I've been trying to fix them with my own strength.  If I just work harder at pleasing people, if I just read more books or look for more ideas to help, things will get better.  I do believe these things are helpful and meaningful, but the key is that I'm not the one doing the healing.

There is One who is greater than I who can do that hard work.  I don't have to take on the burdens all on my own.  I don't have to make everything better for everyone.  Jesus has already done that for us.  He's won the victory over the world and even over death itself. 

Then shouldn't I look to Him who is greater? 

The sacred echo brings these texts...

"Fix your thoughts on Jesus."  Ephesians 3:1

"Fixing our eyes on Jesus."  Hebrews 12:2

I've spent some time in the deep South, and the idea of "fixin' to" comes to mind as I read these passages.  "I'm fixin' to go to the beach."  "I'm fixin' to make supper."  But I don't think that's quite what the scriptures are referring to here.  Shannon Geurin says that keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus "simply means that you have such a connection with Him that every part of you aligns with Him.  He is the key and you are the lock." 

Every part.  Now this can be something I'm fixin' to do.  To align every part of myself with God.  To fix my thoughts, to fix my eyes, to fix my heart on the One who is true and right and holy and good. 


"The Greek word "fix" contains the idea of concentrating your gaze; to focus all of your attention on one object." 

We have that choice.

We can fix our gaze on earthly things.  On our problems, our concerns, our frustrations.  The crazy life that is 2020...

Or we can choose to fix our gaze on the author of life.  The Creator of peace itself. The one able to calm every storm and walk with us across the waters.

I admit that I don't know how to do this. 

I do know that the more I pray, the more I read Scripture, the more I talk with Christian friends and meditate on God's word, the more I will gaze in the right direction.

Maybe that's all we can do, this side of Heaven.

Fix our eyes in the right direction.