Lent Update for 2015

I have two more weeks to go for my Lent break from social media. So far, so good. More than having extra free time, the best part has been clearing my head and getting my perspective readjusted (again). As much as I love all things social media, it can mess with your head if you let it.

You know it’s time to step away for a bit when you start valuing your self-worth based on social media. I should know, being a recovering approval-addict. I’ve been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and worn it.

I’ll confess that not everything God has shown me during this season of Lent has been fun or easy. I’ve seen just how much I’m addicted to worry and stress and doubts. My faith is smaller than I thought, but I’m also finding out that God os much bigger than I ever imagined.

It’s been a long journey from that day on May 22. 2012 when I got laid off from my job. It hasn’t gone nearly the way I thought it would. But I have seen God’s provision and felt His nearness more in these past three years than ever before.

Lent is a way of me reminding myself that 1) God owns it all and controls it all, not me; 2) if I have God and nothing else, I’m better off than if I had everything but God; 3) it truly will be fine in the end because God said so, and if it’s not fine, then it’s not the end (to borrow a line from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

I think that covers it.

 

Thanksgiving in Advance

If you’ve ever been out of a job, you know it’s not fun. Well, maybe for a day or two when it still seems like a mini-vacation, but when the bills start coming due and there’s not enough money to cover them, reality rudely barges in.

Maybe you’ve been praying for a job. Maybe you’ve been praying for a spouse. Or maybe you’ve been praying for something else entirely. I have a suggestion.

Maybe you thank God in advance for His provision.

Here’s the way I see it. God will either 1) give you what you ask or 2) give you something better.

I’m not saying that God is a celestial genie who will unload untold riches on you if you know the magical password or rub the lamp a certain way.

I am saying that God knows best how to give good gifts to His children. He knows what they need best, far more than they often do. He does after all own all those cattle on those thousand hills.

I truly believe that the best gift God gives is God. God gives Himself. And God plus nothing else is better than everything in the world minus God. God is enough.

So maybe you and I need to incorporate more thanksgiving in our prayers. I know sometimes it’s hard to give thanks when all you see are unpaid bills and all you feel is anxiety. But even if you’re alive, that in itself is something to be grateful for.

Maybe you can even try the experiment where every day you list three things you are thankful for. I do believe gratitude changes your perspective and helps you see more of what God is up to in your life. Gratitude opens your eyes to the miraculous.

At least try it for 24 hours and see if it doesn’t make a difference in your outlook.

 

Why I Call Myself Blessed

“One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one more thing to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say” (C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair).

Good ol’ Puddleglum. For those not familiar with Narnia, that’s the character speaking these words. And I like them.

I am currently jobless. Again. But I still consider myself blessed.

I’d rather be where I am right now with God than in my dream job, making ridiculous amounts of money, without Him.

I’ve found out this simple equation:

Me + God > Me + Everything Else – God

I don’t know if that’s grammatically or mathematically correct, but it’s right as far as I’m concerned.

I’m blessed because I have God. I’m blessed because this God promises not to give me what I need or lead me to it, but because He’s promised that HE HIMSELF will be my provision.

Even if God never did another blessed thing for me, if God never gave me another sign or another visible reminder of His prescence, He would still have been better to me that I deserve for saving my soul.

So if I wake up tomorrow and draw breath, if I get out of bed and live through the next 24 hours, I’m blessed because God is with me. If I don’t wake up tomorrow, I’m still blessed because then I’ll be with God.

I call that a win-win.

What You Can’t Do (And What You Can)

I have gathered a collection of some observations that I’d like to share with you. Most of them fall into the “duh” category, but sometimes we need those basic reminders. Okay, I do.

1) You can’t catch up on a bad night of sleep in one night. It’s not like if you only got 2 hours of sleep that you can sleep 14 hours the next night and be back to your average of 8. First of all, I’d be a zombie after 14 hours of sleep. Second, I’d still be tired. Just a very tired zombie.

2) You can’t repeat the past (regardless of what Jay Gatsby says). The only way to do that would be for you to go back to who you were then, which is impossible. Also, everyone else in that scene would have to revert back to who they were then, too. You see the problem? Besides, what lies ahead, what God has for you, is way better than anything in your past.

3) You can’t make people be friends with you if they don’t want to be. You can be a friend for your part, regardless of whether that friendship is returned or not.

4) You can’t succeed if you don’t try. You aren’t guaranteed success if you try, but you are 100% destined to fail if you fail to try. Oooh, that should be cross-stitched and hung on somebody’s wall. That was good.

5) You CAN trust God at all times at any point in your life to get you through anything. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a choirboy or a saint. The key is asking for help. The key is acknowledging your need and God’s vast supply.

6) You CAN trust God’s perfect timing. It may not be according to your timetable, but it will absolutely come when you need it most. And most likely when you’re least expecting it or looking for it.

7) You can’t be whatever you want to be and you can’t do anything you put your mind to (like me wanting to dunk on a 10-foot basketball goal). But you CAN be exactly what God created you to be and you CAN fulfill the purposes he created you for.

More reminders to come later.