A Lesson in Contentment

14 01 2011

Another lesson from the car seat. My four-year-old friend and I were driving to school this morning. He announced on the driveway that we would be looking for dump trucks, cherry pickers, and school buses. Keeping our eyes open and paying attention to all the neat things God puts in our path is one of our greatest joys.

Our eyes were peeled and almost immediately he saw a school bus. Smiles exploded from the backseat as he noted how quickly we were spotting these road treasures. Driving along, he noticed a bright yellow car and pointed it out. I told him that it was a fun car and that I would like to have a car like that one. He got a puzzled expression on his face. “But you already have a car.”

I do have a car. Of course, I couldn’t learn my lesson on the first go around. I tried explaining that sometimes it was fun to think about what kind of car you might like to have someday. So I asked him, “Do you ever think about what kind of car you would like to have?” “No,” he responded. “I just want to be four.”

Contentment is the attitude of being at peace amid your circumstances. It counts the blessings that we often overlook. It sees the presence of God in the ordinary.

Too often I wish my life away. I wish for a new car rather than being thankful for what I am driving. I wish I was in a different stage of life rather than enjoying the moment I am in. I wish I was starting, or done, or had the chance to do it all again rather than savoring the part of the journey I am on.

My Jesus Resolution today is to cultivate contentment. I am going to be satisfied with the richness of today. I am going to spend less time wishing and more time counting my blessings. I am going to keep my eyes open, looking for the treasures God puts along the road today. I am going to let every yellow car I see today remind me of the lesson of contentment God wants to plant deep in my heart.





Mile Markers

12 01 2011

Setting goals can be a daunting task. We look down the road and try to fix our sights on what we want to accomplish, measuring the distance and calculating the steps that it will take to get there. Some goals seem doable. Others seem to dominate the horizon with their size.

Looking like Jesus can seem like one of those mountain-sized goals. I read the Bible, look in the mirror, and seriously question how I can get from here to there. There is so much in my life that needs to be surrendered, reshaped, molded by His hand, and given into His care. When it looks impossible, there are three truths to remember.

First, transformation belongs to God. We do not have the power to transform ourselves. The work of transformation – conforming us into the image of Jesus – belongs to God. It is His might that will tear down the strongholds that hide our hearts from His. It is His light that will chase away the darkness. It is His glory that He is creating within us. My job is to abide and surrender. Stay with God, cling to Him, put my roots down deep in His presence and open my heart to the possibilities of His promises.

Second, trust God’s timing. I always seem to want to move faster than God. I want transformation to be on a schedule. Creating new hearts in the likeness of His Son doesn’t work like that. The timing of transformation depends on His sovereignty and my stubbornness. God will always move at the right time. He will bring the right people, right circumstances, right opportunities, and right tools to me at the optimum time for maximum growth. My responsibility is to trust and respond when He calls.

Third, celebrate the mile markers. We tend to celebrate mountaintop moments. God wants us to celebrate the small victories on the way. He longs for us to rejoice when we resist temptation, pray before acting, speak when it would have been easier to be silent. Every time we serve when we feel like sitting, sing when we could complain, or stop to trace His handprint when we are in a rush is a victory worth celebrating. They are mile markers that help us recognize the movement of God in our lives, allowing us to catch a glimpse of how the image of Jesus is taking shape within us.

My Jesus Resolution today is to look for a mile marker. I am not going to be discouraged by the size or distance of the mountain. I am determined to abide with tenacity, surrender with humility, and trust with deep hope. Today I am going to take time to celebrate the small victories that write the story of God’s movement in my life. He is shaping me to look like Jesus and even one step in that direction is a cause for joy.





Walking With God

10 01 2011

It is tucked into just three verses. In the middle of the genealogies, an entire lifetime is summed up in four words. “Enoch walked with God.” – Genesis 5:24. It doesn’t just say it once about this ancient man, these words are repeated twice in three verse. It tells us about his children, the length of his life, but most importantly, the melody of his days. Enoch walked with God.

Those four words fascinate me. What does that kind of life look like? They stir a deep longing in my heart. Can those small words describe the rhythm of my days?

God doesn’t grant us any more than this small glimpse into the life of Enoch, but we can see a great deal about his heart through their lens. He was a man who let God define him. He listened to the voice of God, allowing His words to guide his steps. He set his focus on the face of God. He kept his eyes on the movement of God. He let God’s power be his strength, His love to be his comfort, and His glory ignite his worship.

Every day, Enoch looked at the world and chose to walk with God. He deliberately matched his steps to the footprints of the Lord. This kind of legacy is built in the day-to-day choice of being God’s person with each action, thought, and word.

My Jesus Resolution today is to use Enoch’s legacy to measure my life. What words do I want used to describe me? What am I doing today to ensure that someone can pen those words on the page that will tell my story? Someday my life will be a small note in the pages of history. More than anything, I want four words to sum up my life – She looked like Jesus. Today, I start writing.





Miracles

7 01 2011

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

Einstein hit it right on the head. What is your point-of-view? Do you see the miraculous in the everyday? Can you see the hand of God touching your minutes, shaping your hours, opening doors so that you can experience His presence?

So many times I go through my days with blinders on. I see the piles of laundry, the dishes in the sink, the work piled on my desk, and the traffic slowing me down, but fail to see the miracles that are all around me.

We are surrounded by wonder. The way the sunlight sparkles through the glass illuminates the presence of God. Flowers proclaim His infinite beauty and creativity. God still moves in this world – answering prayers, opening doors, and calling us to His heart. He plants His presence, love, glory, and power in the small crevices of my day. He longs for me to see Him, to find His fingerprints, to rejoice in the moments when I understand that everything is a miracle that points to Him.

Breathe in and out and marvel at the wonderfully complex way you are made. Look at a picture of your family and stand in awe at the miracle of love. Open your Bible, hear the voice of God speaking directly to your heart, and bow down in worship. Every moment is miraculous when we understand how completely everything in our lives is touched by the hand of God.

My Jesus Resolution today is to see the miracles all around me. I want new eyes to see the amazing things God has planted all through my day. I want to look at my world with freshness and wonder, not missing a blessing that He has given me. I want my heart to stay tender, my soul to stand in awe, my mind to by humbled by the way He is moving all around me. Today is a miracle. What are you going to see?





Yoda

5 01 2011

Star Wars is a favorite at our house. We love the classic story of light and dark, choices and redemption, the triumph of love and goodness over the evil motives of greed and corruption. We play with light sabers, dress up in Jedi robes, and proudly display our action figures. We all have our favorite characters. Mine is Yoda.

Yoda is the Master Jedi. He is the focal point of goodness in the movies. His wisdom provides instruction as well as balance in a world that seems to be falling apart. His small size spotlights his big heart. His longevity (900 years old he is) offers perspective to those who struggle with the idea of waiting and being patient.

I have learned a lot from Yoda. There is one Yoda-ism that has touched a deep cord with me. In teaching young Luke Skywalker about the ways of the Force, Yoda tells the discouraged young Jedi, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

While a willingness to try is essential, sometimes the words “I’ll try” come with a built-in escape. It can become a half-hearted commitment to giving something a lukewarm effort. Yoda’s wisdom flows from recognizing the need to be deliberate, to commit fully, and to dive in to the deep end with the determination to swim.

As we walk in the transformation to which God call us, we need to give ourselves to more than trying. Do or do not. There is light or there is darkness. There is the world or there is the kingdom of God. There is no room from half-hearted, lukewarm hearts in the presence of the King. He wants all of us. He wants us to choose “do.” That doesn’t mean we will be perfect. It does mean that we commit to walking in His steps, holding His hand, and continuing the journey.

My Jesus Resolution today is to listen to Yoda. I am going to set down “trying” and set my heart on “doing.” I resolve with every part of my being to look like Jesus. I understand the journey is long. I know that the transformation is going to require deep surrender. I realize that I am going to fall short many times. I also know my God. He is a “doing” Savior. He didn’t try hanging on the cross. He did it.





The Jesus Resolution

3 01 2011

“For I have resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” – Paul, I Corinthians 2:2

Did you make a resolution this year? A new year holds out the possibility for fresh starts and new beginnings. The slate is clean, the paper is new, and we have a whole year to imagine that we can be different.

God specializes in new beginnings, fresh starts, and achieving impossible dreams. He loves u-turns, hearts that long for another chance, eyes that search for a different perspective, and souls that yearn for something bigger than themselves. He invites you into His heart and offers to make you new.

The transformation that God has in mind for us is nothing less than Jesus Himself. He wants us to walk like Jesus, serve like Jesus, speak like Jesus, love like Jesus, obey like Jesus, rejoice like Jesus, pray like Jesus – to look like Jesus in each and every way. He is willing to work in the very heart of who we are so that the image of Jesus might blossom in our lives, our attitudes, our actions, and our words.

The cross points to the lengths God is willing to go to transform us. The empty tomb proclaims that He has the power to take our darkest, guiltiest, filthiest pieces and make them into something that resonates with beauty and victory.

My Jesus Resolution today is to resolve to look like Jesus. I want to immerse myself in Jesus. I want Him to soak into every part of who I am. I want to spend this year learning and surrendering to what it means to walk as Jesus did. I commit today to living more fully in the transformation God wants to work within me. There will be rough patches, “aha” moments, reasons to rejoice, and times to catch our breath in wonder along the way. Will you make the Jesus Resolution with me?