Christian Living

Playing in the Puddles

Do you have a longing so great for more of God, yet you cannot seem to get loose from your ties to the world?  I have run across this dilemma many times.  I so desire for a deep, lasting relationship with God but there is so much of me still in the world that I have a difficult time giving myself over 100% to my relationship with God.   I love God so much, but I get caught up in all the “stuff” of the world and this keeps me from seeking God fully.

I remember once when I was young that I wanted to go swimming in the worst way.  Only one problem, we didn’t have a pool.  I was frustrated, and it had recently rained so I decided to go swimming in the puddles in our driveway.  I played in those puddles for a long time, all the while pretending they were a pool.  Isn’t our relationship with God sometimes like playing in the puddles?  We long for God, to hear His voice and yet, we play around in the world, all the while pretending that we are content with where we are with God.  We ask the question “How much of the world can I cling to and still have a deep relationship with God?  The answer…none of it.

Scripture clearly says in 1 John 2:15

“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.”

That is pretty black and white.  Love the world, do not love the Father. So, any loyalty we have to the things of this world separates us from the love of God. So how do we get ourselves out of this world and closer to God?  Well, first we must set our affections on the right thing.  Many, including myself, are attached to things of this world. I like stuff and there is nothing wrong with having stuff, but are you putting too much emphasis on these things?  We need to replace our love of stuff with the love of God.  God needs to be our contentment, our thrill, our true love.

I find that what I spend most of my time doing is what is taking the place of God in my life.  It turns into an idol.  Now how to identify and remove idols from our lives is for a different post but the point I want to drive home is that we spend too much time playing in the world and trying to have a relationship with God.  The two cannot be intertwined.  We must separate from the world and devote ourselves to nurturing our relationship with Jesus. The more we invest in our relationship with Jesus, the less of the world we will desire. And one day we will realize that the world holds no attraction for us any longer. We will stop playing in the puddles and we will realize the refreshment of swimming in the pool!!

Christian Living, Encouragement

Sing, Shout, and Speak Words of Gratitude

Do we feel it is difficult to enter into the presence of God?  Are we to distracted with our illnesses to remember God is waiting to meet with us?  Can we calm our lives enough to settle at His feet as did Mary?  These are questions I grapple with quite a bit.  I know each day I wake up and feel balanced and peaceful is a gift from God.  I do not take these days for granted and I am grateful for each day.

God is always good.  He wants to give us peace and joy.  I know I sometimes get turned around in my thinking and become fatalistic in the sense that things are never going to look up for me.  When my depression is so deep and dark that I feel there is no silver lining, I forget that God is in control and things will get better.  Then, like a light switch, the mania comes and brings a whole new set of problems.  Mania brings feelings of irritability, pressured speech, spending sprees and the feelings of invincibility.  Again, a feeling of hopelessness that only my faith in God can alleviate.

When I spend time with God, both in and out of the throes of an episode, I find myself being grateful for His love and His stability.  He is always the same.  He never falters or leaves me.  He never takes a day off and He certainly doesn’t think less of me because I am struggling.  I can depend on His love always.

But sometimes, I take God for granted.  I don’t spend enough time with Him.  I know He is waiting and I do other things.  Some days I don’t feel like praying or studying and it is these times that I need to spend time with God.  I should be singing and shouting and speaking words of praise as I enter His presence.  Spending time with God should be my top priority when I am feeling good and when I am feeling poorly.  I need to make God my priority always.  I am still learning this principal and I spend so much more time with Him than I used to.  I know He is my source of strength and my hope and in Him I can rest.  I need to become more God-aware and less self-aware.  I wonder if you struggle with this as well?

Christian Living, Encouragement

A Little Kindness

It seems that everywhere I turn today there is bickering and arguing.  If it isn’t about politics (which it often is) it is within the family, between friends and even within church walls.  What is happening?  I do not remember a time in my life when there has been so much discontent.  I know we are living in the end times and I know things are going to get worse.  The confusion and chaos in this world is going to continue, unchecked, until Jesus comes back.

What we need in this world is more kindness and encouragement.  When is the last time you had someone encourage you? Or, better yet, when is the last time you encouraged someone else?  We are so quick to judge and offer up an opinion, usually not a positive one, but encouragement has been lost in all the judgement.  I imagine that we are all aware of our own weaknesses, so we do not need someone else pointing these out to us, but we all need encouragement from time to time.  I feel that we have forgotten how to build each other up.  And then there is the kindness factor.  It seems as if kindness has been lost all together.  Crabby people in checkout lines, rude waiters and waitresses, mean people around every corner; what is going on?  I know everyone has something going on but do our own problems negate the need to be kind to others?  Maybe if we were kinder to people our problems would seem less.

I am not trying to get on a soapbox here.  Goodness knows I have been one of those crabby people on more than one occasion. But Jesus tells us to love all people.  If we love them, should we not be a bit nicer to them?  Would it put us out to offer a hello and a smile when we pass someone on the street?  I know I need to be more aware of those around me and the needs of others. I need to offer a friendly hello and a smile more than I have in the past.  I’m working on me, maybe you can work on you and we could put a kind, encouraging foot forward. To be a bit cheeky, the world would be a better place and we would make Jesus smile to know we are trying to show Him to the world, one kind word at a time.

Encouragement, Mental Health

Refreshment for your Soul

As you well know, having a mental illness is exhausting.  The constant monitoring, the medication, the therapy, the misunderstandings, the stigma, all are extremely taxing on a person’s soul.  I find that at the end of the day I am mentally and physically spent.  I am desperate for some rest and refreshment.  Sometimes all I want to do is crawl up on God’s lap and lament about the hard day or hard week I just went through.  God is where I find my refreshment.  He knows me, so I don’t have to be concerned abut putting my best foot forward with Him.  Nothing I do or have done is a surprise to Him.  I have no need to be afraid of how He sees me because He loves me unconditionally.  It is in this safe place that I find my strength.  I have a room in my home that is specifically set apart for spending time with God, uninterrupted time.  In this room, the presence of God is great.  My granddaughter, who is five, likes to go into this room because she says it “quiets her insides”.  That is what being in the presence of God does for me as well.  He quiets my insides.

Have you ever been so thirsty that your mouth is like a desert?  All you want is some liquid relief.  That is God.  He washes us in refreshing love. He soothes us.  His words are life to us. I know when I have not spent enough time with God because my soul gets thirsty.  I become agitated, irritable, and sad.  My illness begins to take top billing in my life instead of God. Sometimes I do not readily realize this, and I get so far into myself that finding God again can be challenging.  This is when the Lord says, “Come away with me, you need to be filled”.  I go into my prayer room and spend hours talking to Jesus. I read His word, pray, and meditate and I find that I am now ready to face another day.

I find I cannot go very long without spending time in God’s presence.  I try to spend time each day relaxing with the Lord.  Sometimes it works out and sometimes it does not, but on those days where I cannot spend quiet time with God, I feel it.  Being in God’s presence is such refreshment for me that I crave it.  I can find no better way to fill up my soul and it allows me to get ready for what is coming.  If you find yourself tired and worn, try to get away with God for a few hours.  The change in your soul will be amazing and you will find that you cannot imagine ever spending a day without Him.