Life gets so hectic. It gets busy. It gets overwhelming.
Many times, I sit with two children screaming their heads off and I don’t even know what to do. Or, I look at a pile of work that needs to be done, but I have no time. Or, look at the Mount Everest of trials and I have no idea how to ski down.
In these moments, I have to wonder – what do I send?
Do I send love?
Or, do I send irritation, aggravation and frustration?
Because a lot of the time, the world seems to act on me. It seems to send me into a tailspin. One where I just spin in circles trying to grab hold of a tail I can never quite reach.
And, my aggravation, at my lack of control, often sends me on a rampage to dump frustration on those I love.
My environment becomes a result of my circumstances.
I know God calls me to rise above this, but why can’t I? What holds me back?
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Phil. 4:8)
Is it that I send my mind down roads of thought that they shouldn’t be traveling on?
When life breaks down, when circumstances come to topple – I can choose to send my heart to Jesus. I can choose to send my thoughts to the Word of God. I can choose to send out to others a heart that ministers to their needs, instead of one that is being swallowed up with mine.
Jesus will help me.
He understands trials.
He knows the chaos of life.
He has the right answer for me.
He can get me through.
Jesus, you have told me to go. Send me down your paths, send my according to your ways. Send me, so that I may find true, joyful and meaningful life – because when you send, no one who is encountered by you is ever the same.
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Lately, I feel like I have been operating in the weeds.
I can’t seem to catch up with the constant list of to-dos in my mind.
I can’t seem to organize my disorganized life.
I can’t seem to find peace amidst the shuffle of bills that need to be paid.
How do you do it all?
I feel like I am running after the impossible, yet I know the Lord has called me to run towards Him. I have heard his call loud and clear.
So, I run towards my calling. I run to offer soul-quenching words to weary hearts. I run to be a full-time mom to two kids. I run to be a great wife to an extraordinary husband. I run to be a strong bible leader in my community.
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:14)
I want to live my life in a way, where at the finish line called heaven, I fall down at Jesus’ feet knowing I gave it all to him – and for him. I want to run this race with my whole heart. I want to run this race with power. I want to run this race with focus.
I won’t back down on this. God has placed this desire in my heart for a reason. I won’t pretend that who he made me to be is not good enough.
Because, really, aren’t my organizational deficits just eternal badges of honor for the heart work that I am laying for the Kingdom of the Lord? Aren’t the to-do’s that I can’t seem to do, just things that are in the peripheral view?
Aren’t they things that I will eventually get around to do?
Why let them rule me?
Why let them define my worth?
Why let them dictate my effectiveness?
Because, momma can’t do it all. She can’t do it perfect, all the time.
God doesn’t call us to that.
And, perhaps it’s ok to feel overwhelmed sometimes, because feeling flooded by the waters of life, gives us the chance to walk on the waters by faith. It gives us the chance to reach our hand out to Jesus so that he can help us supernaturally walk on water. Here, we can rise above the flood. Here, we can trust the living water.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid. (Mt. 14:27)
And, maybe, it’s much more about trusting than doing.
And, maybe, it’s much more about being than striving.
And, maybe it’s much more about being filled than being skilled.
Because the Lord says, when we pour out, he will pour right back in to us.
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)
So we can give up our hearts. He will fill them.
We can give up our time. He will hand it back to us.
We can give up our closets. He will return us something much greater.
We can give up our perfection. He will pour into us his love.
We can give up our anxieties. He will dump peace all over us.
We can give up our fears. He will measure back courage.
We can give up our own ways. He will return to us His.
We can give up our best efforts. He will shower us with his love.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:13)
Let us fill up on Him. Let us fill up with his ways. Let us fill up so we can run hard. Because, when we do this, we will be filled with joy and peace – ready to be poured out abundantly, on others, as we run our race for the Lord.
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My son loves baking with me. He certainly takes the cake for the best assistant. But, it wasn’t his baking skills that astounded me, it was God’s lesson of contentment really left a taste in my mouth.
My son stirred the entire contents of the pancake batter in his bowl, yet his eyes were transfixed on the paltry 2 teaspoons of milk in his sister’s. He was aggravated, annoyed and discontent. Suddenly, he didn’t like his bowl; he wanted his sister’s.
I felt sad for him, because:
He didn’t realize the value of what he held.
He didn’t realize that I had given him something special.
He didn’t realize his ingredients were vital to breakfast.
Instead, he became so distracted with her plate, he neglected his own.
Didn’t he know that we were about 3-minutes away from eating some light and fluffy delicious pancakes? He was missing out, missing the point and missing the joy.
His joy was stolen. Envy was eating him up.
How much of our attitude is just like his? One of discontentment?
How often do we see past our portion – to only see another’s? How often are our blessings soured by wandering eyes?
What does God think about this?
It gets me thinking – when our eyes wander to another’s portion, we miss the delight of our own. We miss the joy, the anticipation, the thanksgiving, the appreciation, the purpose, the passion – and the moment.
The whole time, my son had what was better right before him
– but he couldn’t see it. He was too transfixed with the matter of someone else’s batter.
Like him, are we so worried about “getting” that we miss what God is “giving”? Let’s change this attitude to start enjoying what the Lord has placed before us.
10 Ways to Grab Hold of Contentment:
10. Believe that the Lord has given us exactly what we need for today.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Mt. 6:26)
If the Lord wanted us to have more, we would have more. But, we don’t. Why? We can’t always know, we can’t always tell and we can’t always understand – but we can understand that the Lord’s ways are not our ways. He knows better than us. Faith is trusting no matter what things look like.
9. Understand our deepest needs are already met.
Much like my son, we don’t realize that we already have the bigger bowl, the better goods and the sizable portion (we have Christ). However, because we allow envy to creep into our hearts, we become disillusioned by what we see around us – and we miss what the Lord has done in us.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)
8. Realize that underneath the other person’s baked goodies, often lies a chipped, cracked and discolored plate.
While we may say, “wow, what they have looks so good,” we never really know what the other person is dealing with.
Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. (Prov. 4:25)
7. Face reality: We can’t have our cake and eat it too.
We ask God for contentment, endurance and patience – while demanding, coveting and envying material goods. God is not a genie in a bottle and we are not his master. When we trust God as supreme – we appreciate what we have.
One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. (Prov. 29: 23)
6. Realize that joy is found when we find contentment.
If my son had worried less about his sister’s bowl and more about his – he could have enjoyed the moment. However, his joy was cut short. He instead embraced jealousy, anxiety and frustration because he saw what he didn’t have.
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps. 37:4)
5. Walk by Faith: We never know what God has for us around the corner.
Frankly, we may have less than another today. But, we have no idea what God has in store for us in tomorrow. If we are always playing the comparison game – we will either feel prideful one moment and neglected the next or vice versa. Why indulge in this constant sin-cycle? It’s not worth it; it clouds our calling. It throws us off track.
In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:6)
4. Rest in the knowledge that the Lord will provide.
He will provide for our deepest needs. We don’t have to look side-to-side any longer because we can look high-and-up to the King that stands ready to bestow all good gifts.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Ps. 73:26)
3. Even if we have less, we have a great opportunity to rely on God.
In these moments, we can fully rest in our Lord’s faithful providence. It is here where faith is grown. It is here where real blessings surface. It’s not material blessings, but immaterial blessings that blow us away with joy, peace and purpose.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (Phil 4:11)
2. Grab hold of God instead of material goods for true significance.
“Not having” gives us the chance to “have” the greater gift – a gift that fills insecurities, quells fears and provides security. What was once insecure, becomes secure with Christ.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jo. 8:12)
1. Praise, honor and thank God for what we have. The more we do, the more we can celebrate – him.
The more we lift God up, the more we realize – one day – we too will be lifted. The more we glorify God, the less we desire to be glorified by our own might.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (Jo. 14:13)
We find contentment when we realize that the Lord has placed just the right portion in our bowl. But, the key is, we can’t let our eyes drift. We can’t miss the moment. We can’t miss his work – in us and through us.
Like my son, we have no idea what will come from our share. While he thought his sister’s portion had value, it was his that actually had true meaning. It was his that would make something lasting. She only held a drop of milk. His was nourishing, sustaining and valuable.
What has the Lord placed in front of you? Is your gift eternal? Are you missing its value? Are you thanking God for this gift?
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In the blog post, Caution: How Not to be of the World, we talked about how taking our focus off of Christ can divert us down a road we never intended to drive. But, by keeping our eyes on the Lord, nothing can take us down. Nothing can shake us. Nothing can keep God away. He sees us and is right next to us. We can learn how to believe God and not the World.
And when we do, God will stand next to us and walk us right up to the purpose of our life. Finally, we can stand before purpose and to grab hold of it.
When we keep our eyes on the Lord, when we keep him at our right hand, we won’t be shaken. (Psalm 16:8)
We won’t be shaken, because we are who God says we are. And, we will be who God wants us to be – as we trust him.
God defines us. God made us. And, God makes us. He answers and he fulfills his promises.
God is greater than the words and messages of the world that are here today and gone tomorrow.
Talking heads waste their words, because rely on the living active Word.
“Keeping up with the Jones” loses its power, because God’s our ultimate Superpower.
Never having enough is a thing of the past, because God is more than enough.
We don’t need to believe half-truths, when we have “the Truth”.
The world says you are less than, God says you are a child of the most high King. (Psalm 82:6)
The world says you need power, God says you need Him. (1 Peter 5:7)
The world says you need to conform, God says to be transformed. (Romans 12:2)
The world says you should find pleasure, God says to find treasure. (Matthew 19:21)
The world says to take for you; God says to give of yourself. (Matthew 19:21)
The world says to seek beauty above all; God says to love him above all. (Luke 10:27)
The world says be happy and fulfilled, God says die to self. (Luke 9:23)
The world says take all you want, God says take up your cross. (Luke 9:23)
The world says live for today, God says live forever. (John 3:16)
When we drive down the freeways of the world, we end up in dark depressing neighborhoods filled with pain, shame and regret. God wants to lead us in truth and light. He wants us to rush into his arms, to collide with his truth and to cruise in life safely.
He has plans that are so much greater than the world’s plans for us. He has big plans. But if we are so distracted with the signs of the world, we will miss the highway to him. We will miss the joy that is him. We will miss the peace that is him. We will miss the life that is him. We will crash.
He wants all of you. He loves all of you. He has big plans for all of you. Give all of yourself to Him.
Have you ever had that pull on your heart? That ache that tells you that something is not quite right? The persistent call that tells you that you have messed up yet again? The one that makes you ask, “Why can’t I be better?”
It’s a feeling of shame, mixed with regret, all combined with a ton of guilt.
I hate these feelings sometimes. Even worse, I hate how I feel when I am not sure what I should do. I hate not knowing if I will ever “be better”, “do better” and “love better”. I hate feeling like I will never get it quite right. I hate feeling afraid to take the risk to go “there”.
Sin weighs me down. It crushes a spirit. It burdens a heart. It stifles a purpose.
Sin comes and:
It laughs at us
It makes us afraid
It shames us
It makes us uncertain
It tells us, “why bother?”
It condemns us
It defines us
It confirms we can never change
It makes us self conscious
It covers us in chains
It discourages us
It attempts to hold us back from our purpose
It steals peace
It embarrasses us
It robs us of joy
It knocks on the doors of our lives attempting to lure us. It stands ready to rob us. And after it does, it leaves us injured, broken and lying on the floor unsure what to do next.
But it is in this place of vulnerable pain where our hurts drive us to admission. It is in this place where we have to take a risk. Where we have to step out of our comfort zone.
And, it is in this exact place where God is best seen. This is where we see him from an authentic, open and receptive heart. And, when we come to God, he heals and binds up our pain better than we could have ever imagined.
When we confess, and move towards God through changed actions, he comes to us – and we come to him.
And he says:
I forgive you
I love you
I will embrace you
You are my workmanship
Your actions don’t disqualify my plans
Your sin doesn’t mean you can’t win
Your ways don’t supersede my ways
I am more successful than your failures
My grace extends further than your guilt
I live inside of you. I can’t give up on myself.
You are more than a conqueror because of Christ Jesus.
You are my work-in-progress
Do you believe me?
If so, let it go. As far as the east is from the west. Let. It. Go.
Watch me work.
I can change you.
I am perfecting the beauty that is “me” within you.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)
SEE YOUR BEAUTY. You are absolutely beautiful to God, just as you are.
You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. (Song of Songs 4:7)
God loves you. Choose today to believe in the depths of your heart that God does not look at you and see a list of flaws, of shortcomings and of failures. He sees beauty. He sees a treasure that he loves. One that he created. He sees a child of God, his own child.
For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. Deut. 7:6
God doesn’t look and define you by your shortcomings, failures and your lack of _____.
Instead, you are defined by greatness – His greatness. He chose you, my friend. You belong to God – not because of anything you did – and certainly not because of your goodness. But, because of your beauty – in Him.
When we believe that God accepts us because of him, the spotlight can come off of us. When we believe that he loves us because of his love, we can stop harping on failures. When we believe that he is greater than us, we can finally stop feeling so weak.
God’s love surpasses our limitations. There is no moderation. What he gives, surpasses expectations.
We expect to be pushed away for our failures, but God draws us near. We expect to be cast aside for our weaknesses, but God makes us strong. We expect to be ridiculed for our flaws, but God comforts us.
He knows we fall short. This is the point. This is why we need Christ. This is why we need grace and forgiveness. We need his saving work to be righteous – in Him. His grace. His love.
The real beauty is that it is all about Him. We are beautiful because of Christ. He makes us beautiful.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12).
God looks at you, his child, and says:
“You are beautiful.”
“I want to lavish love upon you.”
“I know you sin, but, as you confess, I extend you my grace.”
“Be guilty no more, I have come to your rescue.”
“Let go and trust me to refine you.”
“Do not fear yourself. Let my perfect love cast out fear.”
“I love you as I have created you, you are my work in progress. I know what I am doing. You are beautiful.”
Do you get frustrated at your failings? Do you feel less than sometimes? Do you feel unloved? God sees you and he sees beauty. It is time you see your beauty too – not because of you, but because of Him.
“Look at her. She has it all. It must have been easy for her. She doesn’t have the same barriers that I have. I could do that too if I had the financial resources that she has, the support she has, the backing, the connections. She is confident. Nothing can take her down. I want to be like her, but I will never be as good, as insightful or as knowledgeable. I can’t. I will never do “BIG” things. She’s the whole package. I may as well give up.”
Comparing is wearing. It’s tiring. It’s frustrating. It brings us down and settles us in a place of insecurity. When “comparing” is our companion, we are only as secure as the depth of another’s weakness.
How sad is that? Our strength balances on our assessment of another’s faults, lack of material items or “less than” appearance.
“COMPARING” STANDS AND TAUNTS: “I think I am prettier. I am smarter. I am happier.”
“My car is better. My house is better. My family is better”
” I am less than you. I am nothing.”
“You are better than me. I may as well give up.”
“You are respected. I feel dejected.”
“You are so put together. I am ready to fall apart.”
“You are so rich. Why can’t I have more?”
“Your clothes are perfect. Mine are outdated.”
“You have a neat house. I interact with my kids more.”
“You have kids that show you love. I have a neater house.”
“You may know so much about God. I think I love others more.”
“You love others. I know more about the Bible & God.”
“You serve. My faith is stronger.”
“You do so much. God loves me less”
“You are so “insert judgment here”, I am so “insert feel good response here”. “You are so “insert praise here”, I am so “insert a “less than” comment here”.
Aren’t we made for more than this?
Comparing takes us on the up and down roller coaster ride – called “judgment”.
And, it drops us off feeling inflated or deflated.
3 WAYS COMPARING IS BAD FOR US:
1. OTHERS BECOME THE BAROMETER OF OUR WORTH.
We feel unvaluable. So, we either look to others to confirm our worst suspicions or we look to put others down to lift ourselves up. Either way, others hold the power to sink us or to let us swim.
We win or lose. There is no middle ground. We are either better than or less than. No matter, we always stand ready to fall. Our position is constantly threatened – there is always someone who is better, who has more or who is more talented.
“In all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point.” (2 Cor. 10:12 Msg)
2. WE MISS “LOVE”.
Notice the theme of comparing? It is all about “US”! What if the person we are so quick to judge, has a life that is stuck in the sludge? What if they need encouragement, love and help? What if they feel worse than you?
When we compare, we have eyes that only see our own pain. We were created to love others. We completely miss the point of this when our greatest pursuit is seeking our own worth.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16) Let’s make it about His story, not our glory.
3. WE MISS GOD’S GLORY IN OUR WEAKNESS.
You may be asking yourself, “Why is this bad? It is good to rely on yourself. At least then you are in control.”
When we rely on ourselves, we miss the chance to see God as he fills up our weak areas. We miss his glory as he works out his story. We miss the opportunity to learn about ourselves – as we trust Him. We miss the opportunity to see how he wants us to grow in love. We miss so much.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10 NIV)
We now have a great understanding of the 3 ways comparing is bad and damaging for us. Be encouraged, in Part III we will look at the 3 Ways you Can Overcome “Compare” to Find Repair.
God is a God of grace, love and forgiveness. We have all fallen into comparing at some time or another; he loves you and has a plan to help you change. Comparing is bad, but God is good. He has great plans to help you.