Tuesday, March 20, 2018

An Appealing Work in Progress

        There was a movie I watched years ago where one of the characters described another character like an onion.  She spoke about her friend this way:  in order to get to who he really was they would have to peel back the layers.  Layers can protect, but over time they can also become very heavy and can even bring decay to the core.  As “A Work in Progress” we must learn to allow God to lift the layers, helping us get from where we are to where He knows that we can be. 

          So what are the layers that need to be lifted?

          Among all of our strengths come some weaknesses.  What is interesting is that one’s weakness could be another person’s strength.  This is actually how we compliment each other as well as drive each other crazy.  A passive person could carry a weakness of laziness while at the same time an active person could become burdened with work.  The challenge is that layers do not feel heavy as they lay on one by one; the weight of the burden is not usually felt until there are many layers piled on; then crushing the core.  By this point the core usually becomes hardened to strengthen its position.  When we recognize a weakness typically we want to bury ourselves in the strength of that opposite area of our personality, but in doing so we often keep allowing that weakness to pile on.

          So, how do we effectively peel back the layers while keeping our core strength in tact?
          We simply need to allow God to help us peel away the layers.  Whether we have one or multiple layers weighing us down it is always best to ask God to show us how to do the peeling.  Sometimes a layer of weakness needs to be pulled quickly like a Band-Aid.  Often times God will send another person to remove a burden for us.  And even other times God will reveal to us a weakness over time.  As we recognize it for what it is; the next time it tries to overtake us we will be wiser to resist it.   

          I remember a time when I had buried myself in work and responsibilities; had I yanked it off all at once I would have hurt others as well as myself.  I knew how I had gotten there, but I did not know how to get out from under those layers without falling apart.  I did not have the answer, but I knew God did (and always will).  I asked for forgiveness, because no matter which way I sliced it I had to admit that I had done this to myself.  I had said yes to my schedule; to the layers that I was carrying.  I then asked God to help me each day as together we then began to peel the layers off safely and effectively.

          When we do things on our own eventually we will either fall apart or be crushed by our own lack of “peeling” wisdom.  God gave us our strengths and He is very aware of our weaknesses, so who better to help us carry our work load.  Here is to becoming an “appealing” Christian so our work, with God, will not be crushed or burdened but instead progress.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,”
(Phil. 4:13 NKJV)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Immovable Work

          Arms linked and eyes locked at a running opposition stood a chain, an immovable barrier – a force to be reckoned with.  One goal:  no matter what, stand your ground and keep those arms tight.  For decades this has been the unspoken resolve of willing participants as they proclaim their battle cry for one to come over – the infamous Red Rover.   

          Recently, my kids and I were reminiscing about a field trip where their schoolmates enjoyed this game.  The kids were lined up in their horizontal human walls with only an empty field of maybe ten yards between them.  Teams took turns as they called out for the other team’s single representative to charge towards them.  As they attacked, each one ran towards what they thought would be the eventual broken link.  This break in the chain would garner them a prisoner, who would become their new teammate.  Bruised limbs, scraped knees, and grass stained pants where merely badges of honor for each player, but there was always one who would get the wind knocked clean out of them.  Thankfully this child was not mine; however it so happened, on that day, that my daughter was the one who had done the knocking.  Once the fallen kid caught his breath and wiped tears from his eyes he bounced back-up, ran to his team, and hooked again to his chain of defense to battle again.  As I watched from a far I remember thinking - that charging child never stood a chance.  You see, I knew that my daughter had already made the decision that no matter what or who came towards her, she would be immovable.

          The interesting thing about this childhood game is that it is full of immovable children, and I am not simply referring to those who “clean the clock” of the oncoming runner.  Of course the player who prevents the opposite team member from “breaking” their link is seen as immovable.  But inside the child who gets thrown to the ground is an immovable force that says, “Get back up and go again!”  One lesson learned in this full contact lawn game is “I will not be moved” outwardly, or inwardly. 

          We too must be immovable to be “A Work in Progress”.  In order to progress in the work that God has for each of us we must be resolute when opposition races towards us.  Our dedication to the team helping us must not be moved.  Our perseverance must not be moved.  Our commitment to finish what we began must not be moved.  Our resting in God’s promises must not be moved.  Our willingness to keep learning as we fall down MUST NOT BE MOVED!”  This immovable resolve helps our work progress – as we continue to move forward.   

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

(1 Cor. 15:58 NKJV)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Do a Little More

Making each year better is a wish most of us have, but each moment going forward is where we decide to make that wish a realty. Every year I seek God about the upcoming year. Even though I know that I am "a work in progress" I am amazed how little I know about moving forward. I am thankful that my progress does not depend on me. With God I am able to learn, develop, grow, and keep moving toward the destiny that He has planned for me. Knowing this I was not surprised when I heard Him speak words of discipline into my heart regarding what I could choose to change daily this upcoming year.

Do just a little more.

Doing more was not what I expected to hear from God, seeing how I was looking forward to simplifying my life, but thank God that He does not just tell us what to do with out helping us do it. In context I was seeking God about how to be a better daughter to Him, wife to my husband, mom to my children, and Christian to this world when I heard this specific set of instructions. "Do just little more" in daily responsibilities.  Meaning - to increase the level of excellence in those areas.  A desire of my heart has been to be more excellent in whatever I put my hand to - God explained to me that if I "do just a little more" in my daily activities in those four areas of my life that over time excellence will come, (Dan. 6:3)

Being a balanced "work in progress" is so important to me, so when God spoke these words in my heart I asked Him about balancing doing more while still developing an excellent spirit. God reminded me of the word "little". In my past I struggled with being a work-a-holic, because I did not do a little more, but always did a lot more. God comforted me with that one word, letting me know that a little adds up to a lot of progress, whereas doing a lot more adds up to a work-a-holic.

"Do just a little more" will mean something different to each one of us, but with God it can keep us growing as we progress. Spending a little more time each day in God's Word, doing something little each day for our spouses, investing a little more each day in our children, and reaching out to do something little for another person will make this year better for each one of us. At work, ministry, or anything we set our hands to if we were to do just a little more, not a lot but just a little more, it will take our work to the next level while still being able to enjoy our "work in progress".

This year or this day only comes around once, so we must progress making each one count for God. Not perfectly, but consistently we must strive to make our lives count so that we remain "a work in progress"!

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going."

(Ecc. 9:10 NKJV)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Your Piece Could Be The One That Completes The Puzzle

It is amazing to me how each one of us can impact each other's lives. A puzzle is made up of many different pieces, from the intricate designed middle sections to the hundred that make up one corner of a light blue sky - all are essential in creating the finished masterpiece. Like in life, it is easy to feel that our tiny portion is insignificant, but our piece could be the one that completes the whole picture.

In college I had a roommate who enjoyed putting jigsaw puzzles together. She would take over the kitchen table for weeks, spreading out all the little pieces and putting them together between classes and work, while she watched a movie, or took a break from studying. I especially remember her becoming really intense when the puzzle was about three-fourths of the way complete. The table would always be divided up into sections, based on the picture on the puzzle box. There would be a group pieced together that resembled a flower arrangement minus the vase or a dock with dangling water pieces on the bottom. Each section was waiting for connector pieces to link objects to bring continuity to the full picture. A squeal of delight would resonate through the townhouse and everyone would know that she had just found the lost ear piece to complete a face or a front door finally hinged to the house scene pulling groups together from all four corners of the table.

Recently, as I was waiting to hear back from someone regarding a "puzzle piece" that would complete a project I was in charge of, I found myself becoming anxious. I really needed this piece that would link all the others, in order to efficiently move forward, but it was not coming as fast as I would have liked. I would like to say that I immediately thought and spoke that I would allow patience to have her perfect work and that this would help me to mature, but instead I began pacing. A short time later the piece was placed and the project came together, that is when a portion of my "work in progress" began.

I would like to say that this incident is isolated and that normally I just go with the flow, but me and my type A personality walk through these scenarios occasionally. The good news is, and I did not say the “feel good news” is, that God will continue to address this with me until I pass the test.

You see, during that same time I realized that a puzzle piece that I have been carrying should have been given to another person sooner. Because I did not see my little, not so important, puzzle piece as a priority, I caused someone stress and possibly some financial loss. It created more work and out of pocket expenses all because I did not extend my hand and release my piece, which inadvertently made it more difficult for me to rest in peace.

We are not perfect. I am truly thankful that we serve a God of second chances, but it is important that we step out with the pieces He has given us. Helping God keep the pieces in motion is the least that we can do. So as we develop, we must strive to do our parts - place pieces of finances towards a disaster relief ministry, honor a verbal agreement by handing our pieces over through communication, introduce two pieces from different groups when God shows us a connection, drop off a piece of information so that other pieces can come together, and do it all in a timely manner. Not only will we reap what we sow, but more importantly God's kingdom will continue to sow and reap completing His vision on a box that benefits us all.

"For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,”

Romans 12:4 (NKJV)