Staying Grounded

The other day I was talking to my husband about what a wonderful, peaceful summer I have had. It wasn’t that I sat around all day, it was the fact that what I did was on my time. No (or relatively few) deadlines boxing me in, no jam-packed must-do-lists dominating my schedule. Nothing but day after day of opportunities with ample time to grab the ones that appeared most appealing. It’s funny how much stress can be eliminated if you get rid of the “have-to’s”.

My husband had to remind me, of course, that my peace was temporary. Come fall (which will hit me head on tomorrow), my schedule will once again be jam-packed and I’ll be chasing the clock, cramming as many things into my day as possible. And if I can do two or three, or even four, things at once, even better. Just thinking about it gives me high-blood pressure, but what stresses me out most of all is not my upcoming schedule and commitments, but the possibility that I will get so distracted with the here and now that I’ll lose sight of my life-line. Because without a consistent and continual connection with the Holy Spirit, I’ll come crashing down faster than a torpedo. (Unfortunately, I’ve learned this from experience.)

And I think God is trying to warn me of this very thing. Because He knows how much I need Him–for sanity sake. Everything feels so much easier when my heart is connected to God. It’s easy to get caught up in my to-do list, allowing the day-to-day circumstances to dictate how I spend my time. But God has a better plan. He doesn’t want me chasing my tail–He wants me chasing Him, allowing Him to take care of the rest. If I would but take the time to listen. So now, knowing that I’m easily distractible, easily overwhelmed, and blinded by the here and now, I’m asking God to intervene. To grab hold of my heart, drawing me closer to Him day by day, moment by moment, grounding me in the center of His will. (Perhaps a bottle of super glue would help.)

I always find it amusing–or perhaps convicting is the better word–when I hear the same thing from multiple sources. It’s like God knows His message is gonna get jumbled between my ears so He’ll tell me in multiple ways at various times until it finally settles into my heart. Knowing how busy my schedule is about to become, I have been sharing my concerns with God, asking Him to help me stay centered in Him. And day by day, He has been answering that prayer, through books, sermons, and songs.

A few days ago, a friend mailed me Francis Chan’s latest book, The Forgotten God. In a nutshell, it’s about relying on and connecting with the Holy Spirit. (It’s hard to connect with God when you’re living off of shout-out prayers.) As I read, I was reminded afresh of my deep need for God and my tendency to allow the mundane to crowd Him out. But having spent the summer resting in His hands, feeling His love pour through me, I am unwilling to return to that place of hurried distraction. And yet, I know without God’s miraculous intervention, come September, I’ll be pulling my hair out chasing after yet another to-do list.

So I set the book down, turned on some Christian music, and closed my eyes, allowing God’s presence to fill me. And I asked for help.

About two hours later, help came in the form of a sermon. (Funny how that works.) I hope my church will put up a podcast so that I can link to it. It was a great message and the start of a great series entitled, “Finding Balance”. Our pastor gave tips on how to take control of your life and your schedule so that it doesn’t take control of you. For the most part, it came down to prioritizing and intentional living. If I really love God like I say I do, if I really believe that He is in control and that He guides my steps, then I will not allow other things to crowd Him out. I’ll guard my quiet times even if it means leaving something else undone. And to a large extent, that comes down to faith and trust. Do I really believe that God is working everything out for my good? Do I really believe He is in control? Or is that just a cute phrase that’s easy to say on Sunday morning but quickly forgotten when deadlines loom?

Today I’m making the choice to trust God not only with my salvation but also with my schedule. I will trust that if I put Him first, He will take care of the rest, believing that whatever doesn’t get taken care of must not have been as crucial as I thought it was. And when that frantic, distracted, and quite frankly, irrational, side of me wants to press to the surface, telling me I don’t have time to stop and pray, I’ll repeat one of my favorite phrases in the Bible, spoken by Jesus Himself: Luke 10:42 “but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her.” Only I like to personalize it. “I will choose what is better, and it will not be taken from me.”

Read the whole passage here and then ask God to show you, day by day, moment by moment, what is the “better” God wants to give you. Then ask Him what you have allowed to get in the way.

Sold out or Cruising the Bargain Racks

I know I said Wednesday’s would be parenting days, but unfortunately, I process things through my keyboard, which means you all are going to have to process them with me. Besides, this schedule doesn’t technically start until next week, so it’s all good. <grin> Our church is going over Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, and every week I leave thinking, “I’m gonna do better.” But somehow between Wednesdays I slip back into my nine to five. Oh, I’ll read a few verses in the morning and maybe offer a few prayers while I cook dinner. And if I’m feeling really “religious” I may even offer a word of encouragement to someone. So long as it doesn’t cut into my reading time. And yet, there was a time, back when I first gave my life to Christ, when His hands first plucked me out of the pit I was in and everything was so rosy and bright, nothing else mattered but God.

But then I got complacent. And my faith became predictable. I learned what an appropriate tithe was, how to schedule a quiet time and how to participate in the occasional prayer meeting… basically, how to go about my life in a respectable Christian manner. And when things get too uncomfortable, when this thing called Christianity somehow seeps out of Sunday, I run right back to my schedule. “Yes, Jesus, I’ll pray, as soon as I fold the laundry. Or can I pray while I fold? Does it count as worship if the music plays while I cook dinner? How can I multi-task You into my life…without disrupting my life?”

I wonder how different my faith would be if I had stood there watching as Jesus died. Would I still relegate Him to a nice, tidy morning quiet time? He gave His all…and I can’t even give him thirty minutes of uninterrupted time? And why? So my floors can be cleaner, or I can catch up on the latest sitcom or loose myself in a novel? Tonight I’m asking a different question: What would…no, strike that…what will my life look like when I release the reigns completely? When every day, instead of running to my to-do list I run to God instead?

I’m not sure, but I’ll let you know. It won’t be easy. In fact, just thinking about it is kind of scary, especially with the huge workload I have coming up this fall. But I guess that’s why it comes down to trust. Do I really believe that God has a plan…for me? And that He’s working out His plan?

Anyone want to join me? Let’s hold each other accountable, and share stories as God leads us on the adventures of our lives. I’m not sure where we’re headed, but I can guarantee one thing–we won’t regret it!