You Choose the View Pt. 2

“And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten…” Joel 2:25 KJV  

 Life seldom asks our advice; It just sort of decides what’s next for us. Some things are beyond our control. We don’t begin them and we will not be the ones to make them stop. We can only decide how we will respond as we are forced to take the ride.

     What is it you’re facing right now? a deadly diagnosis, the death of a loved one, divorce, the empty nest, a chronic illness, financial ruin, job promotion, recovery after surgery, a child’s return home, a new marriage, a new course of treatment: All change can be daunting because it requires something of us. So often we wish the change away. We forget that God would use it to hone who we are. We don’t control life’s twists and turns, but we do control our responses to them. Our responses determine what we become: Godly responses reinvent us into the image of God; Ungodly responses reinvent us into something less than we were to begin with. Either way we are reinvented.

      God’s point in change is to restore what has been taken from us by the world, the flesh, and the devil. We have to let Him in if that restoration is to begin.

     One area He would right and restore within us is our ability to commit. Every change is an opportunity for us to examine our commitments. 

     I’ve taken many opportunities in this blog to talk about the crazy, complicated lives we Americans live. God did not invent or intend the 24/7 lifestyle; That was all us.

    At the root of this life of complicated rush is a problem with commitment. Somewhere along the line someone told us we could do anything if we were just committed enough. That’s a lie. God can do anything. You can successfully do what God has made you to do. The problem is that some of us have confused ourselves with God. We’ve begun to think that we have an infinite source of commitment; So we just keep committing to more and more, complicating our lives until we are half mad with weariness.

     Sometimes change is God trying to make us realize we need to detach from some of our commitments so that we can become what He really intended for us. Such change is never welcomed at first. It requires us to admit that we can’t do it all. We have to tumble to the fact we aren’t God!

    If you are in a major life-change now why don’t you take some time and reevaluate your commitments to see if they are in line with what the King wants. Ask yourself:

1. Am I over-committed in any area of my life?

2. Is there something I am doing which I was not called to be committed to?

3. Are my current commitments keeping me from something else God really wants me to be doing?

Here’s to letting the Lord restore us in the area of our commitments! May you find the path of peace!

Breathing Through

 In one of my recent posts Battling My Big Bad Buddy, I said that one of my methods of dealing with change was to remember to breathe. I thought that bore a little more explanation; So here goes.

      My lead pastor is constantly reminding me to “respond and not react to life.” That is good advice. Too often I shoot from the hip and ask questions later which really needed to be asked in the moment.

     My sister as I said has been heard to comment “Breathe in Jesus breathe out peace.”  Again that’s good advice. In the midst of big change so often I forget to consult Jesus for his will and direction. As soon as He is not involved peace goes flying out the window.

     Finally my mother has always told me that when I am faced with a trying situation I need to stop and count to ten before I say or do anything. This is breathing through at its simplest. But how often do I just flare up with a response before I count?

     Breathing through is first a physical response to change. It involves counting to ten. Yes I mean it literally. When your day changes, goes awry, or otherwise drops a bomb on you don’t blow up, BREATHE!  Counting to ten has three steps:

1. Stop in your tracks. Whatever you are doing or otherwise going to do stop. Step out of the situation. Leave the room if you have to. Detach.

2. Count to ten slowly in your head…aloud if you have to and focus on the numbers not the situation.

3. As you’re counting take deep breaths. Fill your lungs slowly and completely on the number one. Hold the breath on the number two. Fully release the breath on the number three. Start again on the number four.

By the time you are to ten you should be able to accomplish the next step of breathing through. That is putting off the situation for a bit until you can make a decision through prayerful consideration. Breathing is not something you do when a person is bleeding from an artery in front of you. But most situations are not life-threatening even if they are life-altering. So while the rest of the world wants you to make snap decisions, you need to give yourself permission to retire and consider what you are going to do.

Breathing in Jesus and breathing out peace also has three steps:

1. Take the situation to Jesus in prayer and ask for wisdom. The Bible says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

2. Spend time being quiet and listening for God’s voice. Now when I say that most people don;t know how to listen for God’s voice. So here it is.

     a. shut up. Stop talking.

     b. Pay attention to thoughts and impressions that come into your mind. Give specific attention to Scriptures that pop in and “good ideas” that could bring about a desirous solution.

     c. Look into perceived outcomes of the actions your inner dialogue creates. Which of the outcomes can you live with?

3. Ask Jesus to open up the proper pathway and give you peace about the course you see. Be committed to pray until you receive an answer. Don’t give up if God doesn’t tell you everything in the first five minutes. He’s God He doesn’t have to talk fast.

Finally breathing through involves responding not reacting:

1. Get yourself to a place where you can control your emotions before you deal with the change even if you cannot feel good about what you have to do.

2. Don’t go with your first thoughts. They are almost never right. Responding involves weighing out your options and going with the one that is right and best rather than the first thing that comes to mind.

3. Responding involves being spirit-led. Scripture says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. ” Gal. 5:22,23 NIV

When we are responding the fruit of the Spirit will be evident.

    Change can be jarring. I know it brings the worst out in me sometimes. It certainly brings out the fear in me. Breathing through helps me to make sure the results of change are beneficial.

How is your breathing going these days?