A memory bubbled up in my mind this morning when I was reading in my quiet time.........Funny how some things stay with you! FuGrumpy and complaining, carrying around an Eeyore sort of "chip on her shoulder", a woman in my greater family circles, never ceased to sigh deeply, after almost everything she said. Supposedly a mature believer who had been a "committed" Christian since childhood, she always made me feel discouraged when I would go to her home as a child. Her spirit depleted those of us who had to spend time with her and also made me feel that it would be easy to disappoint her because everything around her did not meet up to her standards. A funny memory from long ago that was brought back to me from a woman who was recently in my life.
When at home recently, I was having a quiet time with the Lord, and He brought this to mind. I realized that this precious woman had high ideals, but her ideals did not included having a grateful heart. And so, the spirit she cast on all that were in her wake was one of complaining and whining.
In this fallen world of ours, it is very easy to become disappointed with almost everything around us--the media, the television shows, the movies, the lack of morality in our leaders, the economic crisis, people who compromise or are immature and disappoint us, and on and on. Many of us have very difficult circumstances to bear. Others have a terminally ill child. Marriage can be a place of strife and loneliness. Christians and family members can be our harshest critics. Yes, life can be extremely taxing. And, working through these obstacle courses of life can deplete us and has caused me considerable depression at times.
But what we practice on a daily basis when we face these trials, will determine, to some degree the legacy and memory we leave to those who know us well.
All of us must come to the conclusion at some point, that this is the "broken" place. This is the sphere in which sinful men have separated themselves from God's original design. Here, Satan prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may destroy. We should live to expect this as the place of warfare for the kingdom of God, and take up our arms as His soldiers to fight our battles with courage and faith.
But what we practice we will become. If we practice fear--being afraid what life could bring our way; or what may happen to our children at this point in history; or what if we go under financially; or what if my child who is learning to drive has a wreck on the freeway; etc., then we will become even more fearful and frozen in our ability to trust God.
If we practice criticism of others, complaining and seeing others with a judgmental attitude, we will become even more harsh and critical, unloving and self-centered.
If we practice living in guilt and inadequacy, we will become small in our own minds and not enjoy God's grace and unconditional love.
Whatever we water in the souls of our hearts will certainly grow. And if we water these "weeds" in the garden of our souls, they will certainly take over and devastate the crop of faith, love, thankfulness, grace, joy.
And if we practice these attitudes of "sin", our children will certainly follow our lead and become immature in the same areas of our own lives. What we sow, we will indeed reap, in our lives and in theirs.
What do you cherish in your heart and feel the right to engage in? Is is healthy? Is it producing life and peace? Observe and see what you are allowing your heart to engage in, because what you cherish will determine what your heart will produce.
I came to understand that a big part of this battle in a fallen world, means practicing faith and praise and love and thankfulness. These require a choice on our part. It is a choice of the will to say, "This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."
I will look for His presence. I will seek to sow seeds of love. I will choose faith and believing that "He is a rewarded of those who seek Him."
It is the reason I named my blog, "itakejoy". I determined that I would be a person who would look for and cultivate and nurture the joy of the Lord, every day, every moment. It is why I wrote Dancing with my Father, I wanted, like David, to choose to dance with Him, to hold His hand, to look to Him every minute of my life saying, "Where are you in this, my beloved Lord? What do you have for me here? How can I learn? How can I find you here in the darkness. No matter what, I choose to believe you are good."
I had a friend who recently told me that fighting battles came naturally to me. It just doesn't seem like the stresses of life are as big of a deal to you. I definitely struggle with the burdens that are in our lives all the time. Perhaps people think I am naturally a Pollyanna.
But every day, in my battles of life, and there are many, I believe that if I really want to please God, then every day, I need to practice faith, grace, love. Not that I am perfect in them, but my choosing to submit my will to the Holy Spirit, trains my spirit to see Him more, to understand how much He gave to spare His life for me, and to learn what a cost He paid for me when He gave freely of Himself, though I, and nobody deserved it.
I am hoping that years and years of making "joy" choices, will produce in me, the quality of joy, so that I will be consistently an encourager, one who gives joy, one who pleases God more an more.
And so I see life through this grid, "What am I going to choose today, so that I may please Him? See life through His eyes? What am I practicing, that I may in my lifetime become more like Christ?"
So, this morning, in my time with the Lord, He very clearly asked me, "What are you becoming more of today?"
Hopefully, less critical, more joyful and freer to enjoy the life He has provided. Selah.