In the noisy chaos of the day, I long for a few minutes of stillness. Stillness where my fingers sit in anticipation on the keyboard and my mind’s thoughts begin to quiet. Processing the day brings me calm relief. It is in these moments as I reflect – the twiddle-twaddle falls away and all comes clearly into focus.
What did God show me or teach me today? Did I hear Him? Did I learn anything from having lived another day on this earth today? Will I be a better person tomorrow than I was yesterday? Life is such a short vapor. All our days tumble into the next. Weeks turn into months and years as the rat race continues. But here, in the still hours of the night, the words clank out onto the screen in an effort to purposefully capture my day. I mull the moments over in my mind. What did I do today that will make a difference for eternity? How can I respond to today’s events so tomorrow will have eternal consequence? Let my days not blur together until they are but a fading memory.
Ps. 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God”
Ps. 39:5-6 “You, indeed, have made my days short in length, and my life span as nothing in Your sight. Yes, every mortal man is only a vapor. Selah” “Certainly, man walks about like a mere shadow. Indeed, they frantically rush around in vain, gathering possessions without knowing who will get them.”
PS. 44:4 “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”
James 4:14 “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
All of life is bound by limits. So much is determined by what we have or don’t have. Is there enough money for a trip – or an unexpected expense? How about time – either we are rushing around, stressed because there is too much to do, or we’re bored. Health brings about limits too – ones I’m keenly aware of as my teen years are a distant memory. Then there are physical limits – we all need to sleep, eat and use the bathroom on a fairly regular basis. Space limits us as well- you can’t walk through walls or travel across the continent in minutes. Even life itself has its limits –which comes into sharp focus when it comes to an untimely end.
It seems our whole lives are a mad dash rush — to what? What are we rushing to? Our minds, being made for eternity are bound by the restraints the box life puts us in. God did give us the structure of days/nights and seasons. But, were we meant to be so dictated by time? To become a servant to time? In some ways — is it possible that time has become our idol?
What would it be like to bound by no limits? You would have no needs because nothing would stand in the way of you accomplishing whatever goal came to mind. You would need no one, because you would have no need. If you lived in Chicago and wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge, you would be there. You would have no airport delays or traffic to contend with. What if there was no need to shop, bathe, prepare food, and all the other million mundane things you do each day? What if we weren’t bound by time?
What if we just were – unconstrained by physical bodies – having ultimate control? We’d have to be outside the realm of this universe. We’d be God. Isn’t that what you do when we pray and ask God for something? Aren’t you asking God to change a limit we are unable or unwilling to? How often have you asked God to help you not be late when you left late? Or help you lose weight as you stick that last piece of chocolate cake in your mouth? (or am I the only one who does that?)
2 Cor. 3:18 “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” As we walk this path through life, we are to become more and more like God. Given the constraints we have – what would that look like? Maybe slowing down, living in the moment – for it’s all we really have. Maybe accepting what comes you way, knowing that even though you aren’t limitless – God is. Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
On paper, there is no conundrum reconciling truth and love. Parenting, however, has for me proven to bring to light the constant seesaw of the two values. On one hand, I want my children to be happy and feel blissfully loved. On the other, I desire for them to have character and a love for God and others. Unfortunately, these two desires seem to bring me to a dilemma far more often than I would like to admit.
Even the best circumstances — a beautiful day at the beach, let’s say — often ends with the eternal struggle. Do I address the rude tone or just let it slide and not ruin the peaceful mood? Do I calmly discuss why we need to not tease one another, for what feels like the hundredth time or do I pretend like I didn’t hear it?
The struggle really comes down to what love and truth really are. If I am perceiving love as doing something nice for my children, or buying them something, is that really love? Maybe it really comes down to my laziness. It’s easier to placate myself and believe love is a sense of calmness and peace, thereby letting the truth slide. The other side of the struggle comes in balancing truth with love. Letting words rip out of my mouth when I’m upset, justifying my outburst as truth can still result in hurt feelings of the hearer.
When truth and love run parallel to each other, truth can become harsh, cold and hurtful. Love can become a warm fuzzy feeling, all accepting, eager not to offend. Since parallel lines continue forever without intersecting, it’s easy to land on one side of truth or love. The difficult part is finding that perfect intersection, the balance of truth and love.
How can truth and love find a perfect balance? 1 Cor. 13:4-7 sums it up well. “4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Instead of working independently, love needs to be intertwined with truth. Love rejoices with truth, working together in unity. They are not two opposing forces but one beautiful song in perfect harmony.
When I’m facing the decision on how to handle a situation with my children, I’m going to try and remember that even though it might not be the fun or easy answer, I need to love with a true love, one that rejoices with truth.
God, I need your help today. It’s so easy for me to be out of balance. I want to love with a love that is patient and kind, not thinking of myself first. I want truth to permeate every pore of my being and as a result, love to ooze out of me. May I have true love, pure love, selfless love, not a love tainted by my love for myself. The perfect balance of love and truth was your gift of eternal life. Our sins demand judgment (truth) and you gave your life me that requirement for us (love). What amazing love! Let my life be just a glimpse of that love to those around me. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Yes, that’s me. And my brother. And my dog, Bogie. So you can see, there was a time that dogs didn’t strike fear into my heart. One defining day changed the course of my affection towards dogs, forever. Well, maybe not forever. We’ll see.
It was time to leave for Grandma’s house, and my mom sent me next door to retrieve my dad so we could leave. I buoyantly skipped over to my dad, taking the shortest route possible. Unfortunately for me, the route was right through the chained up neighbor’s dogs path. I’m not sure when things started to go wrong; but, apparently, the dog felt offended that I had innocently wandered into his territory. Coming up from behind, he seemed to take joy in munching on my legs and caboose.
While my surface wounds healed quite well, I don’t think I ever fully recovered from that incident. But, does that really have to be the end of the story? The big dog hurt me and now I’m scared of dogs forever. Period.
I surely hope not. Who wants to be defined by the circumstances of my life?
So, as I’m sitting this afternoon on my friend’s porch alone, except for their Shepherd mix, I’m consciously deciding how much I want to be free of the shackles of fear. It’s not the first time I’ve gone through this scenario. Overcoming fear isn’t a one time choice. It’s continuing to make the right choice time and time again. Scripture is replete with references to fear. Is. 41:10 gives clear instructions on with to do with fear. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Avoiding the uncomfortable situations isn’t the answer. Neither is sitting and fretting about the size of the dog’s teeth when I’m in an uncomfortable situation. God clearly says, “Do not fear.” Then He gives reasons why.
He is with me. How amazing is that? My creator, who knows every kink about me, is with me?!
He is my God. He is God. He has the ability to help.
He promises strength and help. He wants to help me!
He will hold me with his righteous right hand. He is comforting and protecting me.
All that is well and good in my head, but it doesn’t become reality in my heart until I choose to believe He is God and will protect me. I choose to not listen to my emotions; but I reach out and say, “Nice doggie, nice doggie” and confidently pet the said dog. When, every fiber in my body really just wants to walk backwards away from the dog to safety. Safety being anywhere the dog isn’t.
So, maybe that day in the dog’s path won’t change my life forever. Actually, I know it won’t. “Nice doggie, nice doggie.”