Have you been through difficult seasons when your thoughts turn dark? Lately, it seems like this has been my lot. It’s certainly not as bad as Job in the Bible, but it’s not a smoothy groovy season for me at this time. A few of the challenges that have popped up lately include: a car meltdown, lost my credit card, my husband had a stroke, one of my kids had a crisis at school, some friend challenges and discouraging news from work.
As I’ve been navigating these difficulties, the Holy Spirit spoke to me this morning about how my thoughts were getting dark. It’s like I’ve started to see things in a warped way and I find myself thinking negatively and with grim expectations. This is one of the reasons I so deeply love the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus also calls the Spirit of Truth. In my prayer time today, the Holy Spirit reminded me about Phil 4:8 where Paul tells us to dwell on / think about what is: true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good repute, excellent and worthy of praise.
So with the help of the Holy Spirit, I’m re-directing my thoughts away from the dark stuff & onto things that are THRPLGR: true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good repute! Anyone care to join me???
I have friends who hate to make decisions. The bigger the decision, the worse the gridlock, to the point that they become virtually paralyzed. I’m sure that some of their struggle with making decisions comes from some past challenges as well as some current insecurities that hide in dark corners of their mind, coming out to haunt at the most inopportune times. So when I read this morning about Lot and Abraham, with Lot’s decision to live in Sodom, I think there could be some practical help available in this story for making decisions:
don’t let circumstances be the fundamental reason for a decision: Lot chose land that looked appealing, but maybe he knew that Sodom and Gomorrah weren’t top grade choices for cities in which to live
discuss conflict before making decisions: the whole reason for Lot to move was partially driven by a conflict between Abraham’s and Lot’s shepherds
consider the choices that are available: from reading this story, it doesn’t seem to me that Lot considered all of the options that were available (exchange some of his cattle wealth for gold, come under Abraham’s leadership, create a partnership, etc).
think about the consequences: I seriously doubt that Lot would have chosen to live in Sodom had he known more about the people who lived there
Pray – when Lot made his decision, there’s no mention of him asking for divine input or guidance; in contrast, God was highly involved with Abraham, maybe because Abraham was obedient and highly esteemed / treasured God’s input
If the truth be known, I’m not so good at waiting & I’m trying to get better at that whole foreign concept. I tend to jump in & ask questions later, often getting WAY OVER MY HEAD & then freaking out. I probably lead with my heart & let my brain come along for the ride from time to time. Clearly, this has gotten me into some hot water & mildly comical situations, more than I’d like to admit. But on the flip side, it’s also made for some really outrageous adventures & results, most of which I totally love 🙂
Thankfully, God has surrounded me with people who have their feet on the ground & keep me from floating away into some dreamy oblivion. But perhaps God has me in the lives of these very grounded people, as well, so they can go & do far beyond their natural thinking. Let’s value how God has made each of us & readily align our lives with faith, which is by definition belief in action 🙂
I’ve been thinking about Mary, Jesus’ mom, and how she had a pretty tough road to walk, being pregnant out of wedlock in a culture that strongly frowned on “that type of thing”. If you think about Mary’s situation, she went through a pretty tricky season.
In different but also similar ways to Mary, we all have lots of challenges & difficulties. So if I look at the what Mary said in her season of unwed pregnancy, it helps me to know how to manage my own struggles. Simply put, Mary said, “My soul magnifies The Lord”. We can magnify the problem or we can magnify The Lord, let’s chose wisely 🙂
Back in the day, I visited Prague when it was under communism and I had an interesting experience there. My friends & I popped into a grocery store in Prague and since I’d never visited a grocery store in a communist country, I was in for a surprise – no choices. I quickly realized that I totally take for granted all of the choices I have at an American grocery store (for example, I can get green beans in a variety of ways: fresh, frozen, canned, low sodium, french cut, etc).
Sometimes, I think we take for granted that we have every day. Some of these choices include:
I recently read about when the Jews left their slavery in Egypt & I came across an interesting verse, when they were being chased by Pharoah. At the end of Ex 14:12, the Jews are complaining to Moses & they say something like, “It would have been better to stay as slaves in Egypt than to die here in the wilderness.” I started thinking about this & it really hit me that they only saw 2 options: slavery or death.
Unfortunately, I think we make the same mistake when we exclude God from His involvement in our lives. Truly, without God’s participation & involvement in our lives, we face the same kinds of options that the Jewish people saw at that time. In contrast, it seems to me that the more we involve God in our lives, the greater the adventures, miracles, shock and awe!! So let’s make sure to include God more & more in our lives 🙂