I don’t know anyone that is not busy or stressed. I am no different because the last several months for me have been very hectic and stressful. Not for bad reasons but new and exciting opportunities on top of the dark dreary winter. Is it possible to increase our capacity for life, relationships and joy in the midst of busy productive lives? I think it is. The solution is counter intuitive though. We add capacity by letting go rather than just trying harder.
When life is hard and stressful I want to step back, regroup and feel safe. I move into control mode. I want to keep people out or manage them with kindness. The goal is to make life work, I want a safe soft place to land. I try to grab hold of life and control it. The interesting thing is that I have found that this does not work.
The lifestyle of risk and vulnerability is where enjoyment is found. The risk is letting people in and creating relationship rather than closing off and managing people and life. I have found that a lifestyle that regularly includes gratitude and forgiveness brings joy and freedom. Two things open life back up:
The way to do a great deal is to keep on doing a little. The way to do nothing at all is to be continually resolving that you will do everything – Charles H Spurgeon
Validation is – “to give official sanction, confirmation, or approval to”.
I have been pondering God’s validation for most of my life. Over the years my understanding has grown. I have come to understand that validation comes from understanding who I am in Christ and understanding who God is. Validation comes when we understand who we are. Knowing yourself and knowing God are intricately connected together. You can’t truly know yourself or God’s validation of you without living in relationship with Him. We usually get caught up trying to get validation for what we do rather than who we are.
The metaphors that scripture uses to describe your relationship with God is a good start and guide.
Letter From A Loving Father
Many of us struggle with connecting to a loving father. You may have had a wonderful father and are able to recognize the impact of his love and consistency in their life. But sadly many become angry because of all the wounds that a father represents. They have wounds from their father because of what he did or did not do. These wounds prevent them from knowing their real Father – the one that knit them together in their mother’s womb because of His passionate love and desire for them. You are wanted and enjoyed by your Heavenly Father. Below is a list of scripture in the form a letter to you. Read and meditate on them.
I felt stuck. I did not like the situation, the job, the environment I was in. Why won’t God get me out or why won’t He open the door so I can get out of this. These were the words that I said, prayed and complained to God and others during the years that I was stuck in jobs and situations I didn’t like. I was convinced that I would experience true joy, peace and goodness if I could just change my job and my circumstances.
Most of us are probably still laboring under the impression that freedom comes first in our circumstances, and then we can experience love, joy, peace, patience, and all the other wonderful fruits of the Spirit. Not so. God usually begins first with the transformation of our attitudes; then He can change our circumstances. Stasi Eldredge – Becoming Myself
The reason why many fail in battle is because they wait until the hour of battle. The reason why others succeed is because they have gained their victory on their knees long before the battle came. Anticipate your battles; fight them on your knees before temptation comes, and you will always have victory. – R. A. Torry 1856-1928
My Grandfathers taught at a small Bible college in upstate New York from 1919 to 1976. I have been reading some of their textbooks that they used. I have been impressed with R.A. Torry and wanted to pass on the quote. In all the technology and knowledge we have available today sometimes we look back with arrogance. We need to understand that many of those that have already passed can help us understand the struggles ahead.
“Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action. Grace, you know, does not just have to do with forgiveness of sins alone.”
― Dallas Willard, The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus’s Essential Teachings on Discipleship
The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus's Essential Teachings on Discipleship
Gratitude changes everything. Yes everything…. Think about it. Gratitude transforms the way you interact with your relationships. It fills the empty glass of your emotions. Gratitude truly is able to say “God has worked all things together for my Good!”
For the week of Thanksgiving I want to give you some thoughts on Thankfulness and gratitude. Over this next week as you interact with your family and friends start a discussion about what you are thankful for. My hope and prayer is that it will create thoughts and actions of gratitude in your life.
Here are some of the benefits of a Grateful Heart:
Gratitude gives life to your heart. Scripture says that from your heart “flows the springs of life”. A grateful heart gives life and energy to itself and all those around. Pause for a moment. How does your heart feel when you express gratitude to God or someone else. How do you feel when someone else expresses gratitude to you. If feels like love and hope is being poured into you. Gratitude given or received creates life. Ask God daily to give you a grateful heart. Overwhelming hope and love will will flow from the springs of life as you give and receive gratitude.
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23
Here are some quotes that may inspire you.
Is it possible to believe something without it producing some action or behavior?
The goal is to do the things which Jesus said to do. It does not make sense to call Jesus “Lord,” and not do what he said – Luke 6:46-49. My goal is to walk with Christ in a relational way training through grace and mercy. His word becomes the guide and instruction manual for this journey, training to be formed into the image of Christ by the Holy Spirit.
Knowing the ‘right answers’ does not mean we believe them. To believe them means to act as though they’re true. Dallas Willard