Contentment, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Timing, Uncategorized

How Many Pages?

IMG_3213Every night, my 6 year old (who dislikes most things about school and sitting still), reads a book as part of his home reading program. He’s doing well, but every time he opens the book, he gets that disgruntled pout on his face in anticipation of how lengthy it will be. The inevitable moan comes with, “how many pages are in this book?”

Sometimes, there are only one or two sentences on a page, but there might be 40 pages total. This makes him VERY UPSET! So much so, that I can hardly persuade him to keep going. It wouldn’t matter if every word was easy to pronounce and the plot of the story was thrilling.

The mere thought that there are a lot of pages makes him cringe. If there are tons of words on each one but only 15 pages in total, Sam is happy to proceed… even if the words are challenging and he doesn’t quite understand the storyline.

He equates the length of the book with its difficulty level.

Confession: I’m the same in this chapter of my spiritual journey. If a goal seems like it’s a long way off, I tend to lose heart. I get discouraged and I find it arduous to concentrate on the day ahead, even if its pages are filled with fun! I worry more and find myself dreading what’s to come, rather than embracing the “now.”

However, if I must tackle something really difficult but I know it’s tomorrow or the next day, I’m ready to flip the page and bring it on. I don’t shy away. I’m ready for the fight.

Somehow, I, not unlike my 6yo, have fooled myself into thinking the future, that which is out of reach, is more difficult than the “now.” However, the future becomes the now in a few days time. We have to go through it either way.

There are spiritual principles at work as we navigate the stories of our lives, today and everyday. The pages of life keep turning and sometimes our issues stare back at us like the bad 1980s photography in some of Sam’s home readers. We don’t want to look at them!

I’m aiming to be at peace even when the words are unfamiliar.

Our most desperate times, the moments when our worlds are blurry and our endurance is tested, are no different than the more concise, easily simplified issues of today. If we believe God is with sometimes, then we must believe he is with us always.

Full Stop.

Finding rest and peace when our externals seem formidable can be challenging. Trusting a God who exists outside of linear time is hard too. But, if we pause, breathe, take life one page at a time, line by line, not rushing ahead or dreading the future, rather enjoying the present, we will make it to the end.

God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind. (Isaiah 40:28-31 MSG)

church, Uncategorized

Growing Up

Having two toddlers in our home makes for busy days full of laughter, imaginary friends and pets, picky eating, and TANTRUMS!  Our almost-two-year old, Samuel, has two favourite words: “mine,” and “no.”  He is exerting his independence and the battle for control is raging.  Many times, he sits down and looks the other way when given a direction he doesn’t want to take.  I can beg, coax, bribe, demand all I want, but he is not cooperating.  He may kick and scream as I practically drag him where I want him to go.  Although this behaviour is quite annoying and tests my patience and every other fruit of the spirit when it happens, it’s all a part of growing up.  Sam is still young.  He drinks milk with every meal.  He takes a dummy (pacifier for my American readers) to soothe himself to sleep.

Sam doesn’t have enough experience yet to understand consequences for his behavior, although he is learning.  He doesn’t have enough maturity to know everything isn’t all about him and that he doesn’t get whatever he wants on demand.  In time, my expectation as a mother is that he WILL get control of his emotions; he WILL obey me when I ask him to do something; he WILL share and cooperate with his siblings even when he doesn’t like it.

As a Christian, it’s important that we grow up in our faith.  In the church, childish behaviour can be quite prevalent if we allow it.  We fall into the trap of “consumerism Christianity” where we go to church to be entertained; we judge everything according to our likes and dislikes: how loud is the music? How much fun did our kids have in service?  We join a small group so we can socialize with other “believers” and we only like sermons that make us feel good.  We take what we feel we deserve to get from it, never realizing our part to play.  Then, if we aren’t satisfied with something… if the pastor offends us… if we are being challenged to grow up, we quit.  We quit on church, or even worse, we quit on God.

That’s like a tantrum.

Like Saul just before his radical conversion, Jesus is telling us not to “kick against the goads.”  If we realize we have a greater purpose than ourselves, we might understand he has a job for us. Jesus has handpicked us to be servants and witnesses to what’s happened in our lives (Acts 26:16).  In other words, “IT’S NOT ABOUT ME!”

How many times does God have to say it to get our attention?  Let us not be like Samuel, needing Mum to go over the basics again and again.  The writer of Hebrews says that we keep needing baby’s milk when we should have been on solid food long ago.  “Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.”  This was written to Hebrew Christians who were struggling embracing their faith in Christ, leaning back to their Jewish roots. They needed encouragement on the implications of following him and growing up in their faith.

A milk based Christian diet is BORING and BLAND!  God wants each of us to go deeper than where we are currently with him. He wants our witness to bear some fruit that has eternal impact and our life to be devoted to him.  Unlike me in my parenting, however, God doesn’t drag us where he wants us to go.  He allows us the choice to either stay where we are or to mature into all that he has planned for us.

God doesn’t want us to re-live one year’s lessons over and over so that we find ourselves the same person in a decade, just 10 years older.  

Let us not spend our lives missing the point of our salvation.  Simply ticking the box to get into heaven isn’t enough for mature Christian living.  Let’s look beyond ourselves and serve others.  Learn to give and take in our marriages.  Gain a deeper understanding of His word; experience closer intimacy with him.

When we walk with God keeping eternity in mind, we actually lead the way for others to know Him.  No one would model their lives after a two year old nor would they let Sam lead the way or give advice on any topic.  Let us not have the same reputation and

Grow Up Together.