One thing I say often is that “It’s the small things in life that matter”. I find myself saying that happily with kind gestures like my hubby buying me a special treat from the grocery store and even in my frustration when family members forget to switch out the toilet paper roll.
The other morning, I had an epiphany and “the switch” was what I was meditating on. A simple slight movement can change things dramatically. A twist of the wrist can turn on a lamp and create the light in the room. A tiny push can change the thermostat and the temperature of an entire house, a quick pull can open the chimney to release the smoke and make all the difference. To make my point I’ll continue. A turn of the radio or TV station with a simple push or knob can set the tone for the day through the audio and visual media. The many components in the car could mean that within seconds that are you are breaking or speeding, going right or left, or even going forward or backwards. It just doesn't take much for small little knobs, buttons, pulls, switches in our lives to make impact for better or worse.
I have realized I needed to make a few minor switches in my life in different areas. The biggest one that I need to work on more is the truth that this isn't my life, it is the Lord’s. When I became a Christian I said that I would give myself to Him and do His work and will, as He is my creator and the one who gives and takes all away. Instead of trying to make myself happy, I should be trying to make the Lord happy and meditating on that more often. I believe that joy and the peace that passes all understanding overflows from our doing for the Lord that what is right and true, even when it is difficult at times. Too often I am selfish and lazy and I really need to work in those areas.. My attitude as well could be improved as I get quiet vocal when things don't go the way I would like them to, especially with my own family. I need to learn to let go of those things.
On Monday, I was observing one of our GIFT classes in which we teach the children the Westminster Shorter Catechism and a student asked what a monk was. There was this discussion between the students that was so awesome to hear. One of the moms jumped in and talked about them taking a vow of chastity, poverty and obedience to which I added that there is sometimes also a vow of silence. Now thinking about it, every one is these monks giving up something. Monks give up acting on their sexual desires, money and worldly things, personal opinions and rights they may want to express to their authorities and their voices even. Most of the world most likely thinks that it’s all crazy, but the older and wiser I get the more I realize just how amazing that is. Now don’t get me wrong I am not advocating that everyone should do this, but I get it. In giving up what is near and dear to us and our person worldly will, we can concentrate on the Lord’s will and His desires.
Giving up in this world of plenty that we live in is often very difficult. Even for lent when many friends and family gave up just one thing they struggled with not having this or that. My daughter gave up soda and it was difficult task to be diligent in continuing without, no doubt. There are so many things I have given up since becoming a wife and mother. My way, peace and quiet, time, money, sleep, energy and the list I am sure could go on. This last year I gave up my desire to even set the record straight with certain people because God assured me that He is just and I need not worry about my desire to be right. Boy was that a difficult one, but I stayed silent even when I knew the truth and could have spoken up, but God of course, as always took care of everything and blessed my obedience.
Giving up in this world is really about gaining. When I had married Mark, he wasn't a Christian; in fact he was clueless on basic doctrine like understanding the Trinity. He has grown up in the Catholic Church only going to service for Christmas and Easter services and not ever really discussing or reading the Bible his whole life. We lived together and of course had premarital sex and partied like clueless kids in college often do, however, I did my best to educate him during our dating through discussions and movies about Jesus, which is so funny as obviously I wasn't much of a witness, but oh, he was so cute and I loved him so much I ended up doing some pretty stupid things with this immature and convincing guy. He still hadn't given his life over to Christ by the time we had our first daughter and by the time she was about 8 months old and I was frustrated at best. How could I raise this beautiful baby the way I wanted in a home with parents that had different worldviews and beliefs? We argued as I tried to convince him to go to church with me weekly and he fought me worried about what he thought he might have to give up with this possible change in life. I remember praying on the floor in my bedroom of our small rental house that I would even give up my baby daughter if God would just save my husband. The story ends up happy as obviously God allowed me to keep Hannah and when our second daughter was a baby Mark did give his life over and even got baptized when Holly was 10 months old.
The point is what I was willing to give up. Of course I loved Hannah and I didn't want to give her up but I wanted to give God anything He may have wanted and the best of what I had and she was it. When I got my cancer diagnosis, I for the most part took it pretty good. I didn't break down and freak out in fact it was weeks of shock and awe of the whole situation before I even cried with the thought of possibly leaving my family and friends. I think the one reason I did so well is that I knew and know that without a shadow of a doubt that there is a God, a heaven and that I am a child of the most high King. I know that whatever happens to me is part of God’s perfect providence and sovereignty and really my only job in life is to glorify God. Obviously, I am quite the sinner like all of the Christians I know, but I am a work in progress and someday I will be made a perfect as I can possibly be. That gives me peace and comfort.
I think that when it comes to getting closer to God and learning His will for your life that you have to give up. When I got cancer I decided that I was happy to die whenever God determined as He was (and is) going to receive the glory in it. No one has an expiration date stamped on their foot, they never know when or how that time will come. I think I could get hit by a bus just as easily as my dying from cancer. God knows and He loves me and so why should I worry? I gave up fear and I gained peace. I gave up worry and I gained comfort. I gave up my desire to die on my schedule and I gained more control in my giving God the steering wheel to my life, He's a better driver than me.. Every time I give up to the Lord, I gain. You just have to hit that switch in your mind and heart and give it over. The switch is very simple you just have to turn your thinking and be determined that it will stay, and if it doesn't you have to take your thoughts captive and flip the switch again.
When I give up stress about my kids and their futures I gain confidence in God’s ability to handle it all perfectly. When I give up sadness about broken relationships I gain peace that it was part of His will. When I give up disappointment about where I am in life with certain things like my being overweight I gain hope that I can change for the better. When I give up my desires for everything to go exactly as planned, I gain trust in the Lord and His perfect timing and plans.
I hope that this post encourages you to give up today. I hope you strive to flip the switches in your life and that you adopt a new outlook and positive gains will come to you. I hope you’ll give up to God today.
Here's some scripture and songs for you too.
“So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
Romans 12:1 & 2
If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. Matthew 10:39
Brandon Heath - Wait and See "There is hope, for me yet, because God won’t forget, all the plans He’s made for me. I have to wait and see, He's not finished with me yet, He's not finished with me yet."
I won't give up - Jason Mraz
Have a great week!