God sightings, Living in Faith, Scripture Lessons, Scripture verses

Slow down, see God, be changed

Busy, busy, busy. That’s how many of us tend to go through our days whether we’re at school, in the workplace, at home, or somewhere else. Even our vacations can sometimes be so full of activities that we feel like we need a vacation once we get home from vacation!

slow down and see God; see God and be changedAs crazy and scary as the past 18 months have been, one benefit for some people has been the realization that life doesn’t always have to be so busy. We saw that we can slow down … take a break … step back a bit … and the world will still keep turning.

What a refreshing reminder for some of us, myself included.

I’m a firm believer that God is all around us in big and small ways every day. After all, Scripture tells us so multiple times. First, we have the obvious example of the creation story in Genesis. A few other references to it include:

  • You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. (Nehemiah 9:6)
  • Thus says the Lord,the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: “Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hand? I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.” (Isaiah 45:11-12)
  • For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)

We can forget to notice those daily reminders as we rush through our days. What’s playing on our radio or in our earbuds drowns out the bird’s song. Our morning routine keeps us from noticing the sunrise. We’re checking things on our phone while waiting in a restaurant so miss the smile from the baby at the next table.

I’m not pointing fingers here; I’m just as guilty as anyone else. But I’m trying to do better. Why?

Because when we slow down, we see God.

And when we see God, we can’t help but be changed.

After all, how can we not be changed and be in complete awe of God once we see Him for ourselves?

That’s the kind of change I want to have in my life. But how do we do make it happen?

The best way I’ve found is to ask God to open my eyes and ears so that I’ll see or hear Him around me that day. When I do this, it’s amazing how many ways I notice Him. It’s as if He’s just waiting for the opportunity to show off. 😊

I also try to write down some of the things I see or experience. Then on those days when I’m struggling or questioning or doubting, I can look back and see how many ways God has reminded me of His presence.

Sometimes I see Him in big, obvious ways like the pillars of cloud and fire that God used to guide the Israelites while they were in the desert (Exodus 13:21-22). Other times it’s in subtle ways that are easy to overlook, like when God spoke to Elijah in the still, small whisper instead of the earthquake or fire (1 Kings 19:9-13).

Either way, it’s God. He’s in the biggest of the big and the smallest of the small because He created it all. He wants — and deserves — our praise for every bit of it, from the tallest mountain or most complex creation to the everyday things in life that feel inconsequential.

As Christians, we’re told to continually praise God. Learning to slow down so we can see Him in everything around us is one way to do that, one way to keep Him as an important part of our day.

It doesn’t become habit overnight and there are plenty of days when I don’t focus on it as well as I could. The world still clatters all around me, pulling my attention in too many directions. But I keep trying and hope you do, too.

We’re all works in progress, no matter how old we are or how long we’ve been following God. How do you set the world aside long enough to see God in your everyday life? Have you found a way to keep track of those moments so you don’t forget them?

Leave a comment to share what you’ve learned and help someone else in their journey. We can all use help along the way.

Be blessed, friends!


Don’t Miss a Post

Have posts delivered to your in-box so you don’t miss anything.

God sightings, Living in Faith, Scripture verses

Blessed to be me — blessed to be you

Sometimes God shows up in my everyday life in ways I don’t expect, especially when I’m not looking. That happened last Friday night at our nephew’s football scrimmage.

I was sitting by the aisle but wasn’t paying too much attention to the people who walked past. Once when I did look up, it was just in time to see the message filling the back of a man’s t-shirt as he walked down the stairs:

Blessed to be me.

What a powerful perspective in a time when so many people seem to always want more.

We see people with more money, more followers, more friends, more social life, more of all sorts of things that seem bigger or better than what we have — and want it for ourselves. As you read this, please know I’m not just pointing fingers at other people. I fall into the same trap myself.

But the truth is, I’m blessed to be me. And you’re blessed to be you.

We’re blessed to be created in God’s image exactly how He wanted us to be.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

Blessed to be gifted with abilities that can be used to serve God and help other people.

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 14:4-8)

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:10-11)

Blessed to be part of a plan that God mapped out specifically for us before we were even created.

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

Blessed to be part of God’s family and treated as one of His children.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)

The way we were made, the opportunities we have, the people whose paths we cross are all for a purpose. The reasons behind it are beyond my comprehension so I need to stop trying to figure it out.

As flawed as we are, God still loves us and has a purpose for us. And that’s worth more than any number of followers or amount in the bank.

I’m blessed to be me. You’re blessed to be you.

How will you remember that this week? Drop a note in the comments so we can encourage each other.


Don’t Miss a Post

Have posts delivered to your in-box so you don’t miss anything.

God sightings, Scripture verses, What I've Learned Lately

Stepping (or floating) away from the rest of the world

getting away from the rest of the world

When was the last time you got away from the world for a while, just stepped away and enjoyed the peace and quiet without checking your phone every few minutes?

My husband and I spent several hours Sunday afternoon doing something we haven’t done together in years: fishing. And when I say years, I mean I can’t remember fishing together since before we were married (and we celebrated #31 in April!).

He’s gone with friends and has taken our kids over the years and has even fished in creeks or the surf when we’ve gone places. But just the two of us in a boat together? Not since our dating days.

Our church is currently sharing a pastor with another congregation, which means our service is over by 10 a.m. Afterwards, I picked up lunch while my husband got the boat ready and we headed to one of the local reservoirs.

It was a gorgeous afternoon, sunny and calm with a sky so blue it looked Photo Shopped. We heard lots of frogs on the bank and I could count on one hand the number of other boats we saw or cars we heard.

Lovely time away from all the other “things” — absolutely lovely.

Lots of things have changed for us as we’ve adjusted to life as empty nesters in the past year. Our schedules have shifted and we’re finding ways to fill the hours (nights, weekends) that used to be focused on the kids and their things (not that we ever regret those days — it’s what makes parenting parenting). It’s nice to find new things to do together or get back to some things we enjoyed years ago.

Stepping away from the rest of the world and its busyness can be tough to do, but it’s vital for us physically, mentally and spiritually. We need time away by ourselves and time away with those closest to us.

Jesus got away – so we can, too.

After all, if Jesus could take time away from the world in the midst of His ministry, who am I to think I don’t need a break myself? Sometimes Jesus got away by Himself (such as in Matthew 12:22-23, Mark 1:35) and sometimes He took a few of His closest disciples with Him (such as in Mark 14:32-42).

In both situations, Jesus set the example and sent an important message: it’s okay to step away from the world to relax and recharge. No guilt necessary. 😊

I think it’s also important to pay attention to when Jesus carved out these getaway times. They often were after something monumental had happened, when He needed focused prayer time, or when He was on the brink of a decision or change.

Sound familiar? Those are the times when I need to step away, too – and maybe the same is true for you.

When you realize that time is needed, how do you recharge? Sometimes I go somewhere by myself, such as the Monastery of the Holy Spirit that’s not too far from our home. Other times it’s nice to go with someone. I’m glad I said “yes” to fishing on Sunday and “no” to the other things I could have done. Because guess what? Those other things still got done later.

Plus, I started the week in a better frame of mind after getting away for a while. I hope you make time to step away from the busyness in your world this week, too. What will you try?

 

Dear Lord, our days are so full of things to do, things to plan, things that fill our minds and keep us busy, busy, busy. Help us slow down. Help us step away to rejuvenate ourselves and to reconnect with You and the people we love. Because when we slow down, we’ll see You. When we see You, we’ll be changed. And that’s what we want. Amen.


Don’t Miss a Post

Have posts delivered to your in-box so you don’t miss anything

God sightings, Living in Faith, Scripture verses

How a puzzle reminded me of what the Bible says about procrastination

Tomorrow — June 23 — is Typewriter Day, so I’d like to share the story of the typewriter jigsaw puzzle in my office. And, as silly as it seems, how that puzzle reminded me of what the Bible says about procrastination.

what the bible says about procrastinationAs soon as I saw the puzzle on the shelf at our local bookstore, I knew I would buy it. After all, I’m a writer and the puzzle is an old typewriter. I was so happy to find that puzzle and could picture it framed and hanging on my wall at work.

What I couldn’t picture was how long it would take for that to actually happen.

Putting the puzzle together took less time than I expected. We finished it in about three days, with all four of us pitching in at different times. Then the anxiety set in.

I had never glued and framed a puzzle. And this one was a bit intimidating as a starting point since it’s contoured instead of straight-edged and big — a bit more than 20 inches across. What if I messed something up when I glued it? Once I glued the front, what if it fell apart when I flipped it to glue the back?

I dealt with the anxiety by ignoring it. The puzzle lay on the dining room table for a couple weeks, until just before family came over to celebrate our son’s birthday. I slid a piece of posterboard under it and carefully relocated it to my office downstairs.

That typewriter puzzle claimed a spot on my office floor for weeks … then months … then more months. As embarrassing as it is to admit, it stayed on my floor for more than a year.

Yes, more than a year. All because I was afraid something would go wrong when gluing and then taking it to the frame shop.

What a silly reason to procrastinate! I wish I could claim procrastinating is unusual for me, but it’s easy to do for all sorts of things. Scheduling a doctor’s appointment. Cleaning out the fridge. Starting a new exercise or eating program. Getting back to church after watching online services for so many months. Carving out prayer time. The list goes on.

For some situations, procrastinating can seem valid because something really could go wrong. In other situations, though, all procrastinating does is create a roadblock that doesn’t have to be there.

What the Bible says about procrastinating

Of course, the Bible includes plenty of verses chiding people who procrastinate, even labeling those people as sloths, sluggards and lazy. Ouch! Here are a few of those verses (realizing I’m not digging into their full context here):

  • But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way. (1 Corinthians 14:40)
  • Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. (Ecclesiastes 11:4)
  • If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4:17)
  • As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. (John 9:4)
  • One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys. (Proverbs 18:9)

It’s easy to agree that everything should be done “in a fitting and orderly way.” But to compare someone who slacks in their work to one who destroys? That’s a zinger.

We assign ourselves “to-do’s,” but some also come from God. While it’s clear that we need to do whatever work is in front of us, procrastinating on some things — like gluing and framing my typewriter puzzle — won’t necessarily make much difference in the big picture of life.

Procrastinating on the things we believe God wants us to do is more serious. Whatever those things might be, if God wants us to do them, He’ll show us how. We might not need to jump in and do everything overnight. But as long as we take small steps in that direction, God will help us keep moving where He wants.

We might even look back later and realize our procrastination was pointless. That’s what happened with my puzzle. I put several layers of glue on the front and nothing fell out of place when we flipped it. I put a couple more layers on the back and had no trouble getting it to Hobby Lobby. The framing department was having such a quiet day that they finished it while I wandered the store for a while (which is easy for me to do there!).

So, yes, the puzzle I procrastinated about for more than a year was mounted, framed and ready to take home less than an hour after I took it to the store. I hung it in my home office that afternoon instead of waiting to take it to work.

Now it’s a focal point that always makes me smile. And a constant reminder that the things that make me anxious — the things that tempt me to procrastinate — can sometimes be things that aren’t worth worrying about in the first place.

 

Lord, it’s so easy to put things off because we’re anxious about what might happen, but that’s crazy because we’re not the ones in control anyway. You’re the one in control and we’re so glad for it. Help us keep moving forward the way you want us to go instead of letting ourselves get bogged down by procrastination. Amen.


Don’t Miss a Post

Have posts delivered to your in-box so you don’t miss anything