Got Any Mountains?
In the summer of 2000, my family and I embarked on a cross-country trip from middle Tennessee to the west coast and southern California. This was truly one of the most epic trips we have taken as a family over the years. We had so much fun...my wife, our daughter, and my mom and stepfather.
We packed up our 1995 Ford Aerostar van and set out across the wild, wild west. It was amazing to view the broad variety of terrain and foliage along the way. We passed through Arkansas, Oklahoma, northern Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, on our 2000-mile, 29-hour trek. We reveled in the beauty as I cranked up "Nothing to Say" by Andrew Peterson and cruised down I-40, closely following the path of old Route 66. Because our destination was a conference in Anaheim, we planned to make the trip out to the coast, a hard drive, stopping at night to sleep and getting on the road bright and early the next morning...three days travel. Our first stop was in Amarillo, TX. Our second, was Albuquerque, NM. All was going well...until...we came upon the Rocky Mountains. Somewhere between Winslow and Flagstaff, we began to experience an unusual loss of power with our van. It was as if it was struggling to pull the incline and there was no apparent cause. We stopped to check out the engine and transmission. All appeared to be normal.
Doors Lead to Passageways
Falling leaves interrupt the beam of my headlights as they reflect off of the wet pavement along this winding rural road in the Tennessee hills. My eyes are heavy after a full day of working, but the constant awareness of the dead body in the back of my vehicle, keeps me distracted from the fatigue. Driving through the night, I wonder at how, being a fresh college graduate just a few months ago, I would have never imagined being in this situation. Driving a vehicle with a corpse right behind my seat? Really?!? Not me! But, it was true. I was in a situation that I had never dreamed would ever happen.
My headlights illuminate the the eerily darkened building as I turn into the drive. Pulling up to the rear entrance, the only thing going through my mind is getting the body out of my vehicle and into this building, so that I can get on my way...back home where I am safe, dry and warm.
A "Reminder Note" of Purpose
I was looking through one of my personal journals today, when I came across a couple of notes that my wife had written to me three years ago. I was struck by the words of the notes, as I read and re-read them again. Her messages were encouraging, loving and supportive. She spoke of her love for me and acknowledged the blessings of God on our lives and marriage. Her words rejoiced in all of our years together and expressed her vision for our future. What a wonderful source of love and encouragement! However, there was something even deeper in those notes that has stuck with me (and it's not the first time I've thought about this). Those notes serve to remind me of something very important...it reminds me of who I am (husband and best friend to my wife) and the vision of my future (continuing our journey and enjoying our future together). While it shouldn't be necessary to have such a message to keep one grounded in who they are and with whom they are meant to be, it does reinforce and encourage one in that purpose and relationship. It serves to strengthen the love and commitment that we have. My notes and messages to her do the same.
My first time at a Disney theme park was in the summer of 1973. My family took a vacation to the Florida resort that summer. It was so exciting, as we rode the monorail from the parking area to the main entrance, the recorded voice welcoming us to the park and giving instructions. As our train passed through the lobby of the Contemporary Resort Hotel, I was in awe of all that I was experiencing...and I wasn't even inside the theme park yet!
On that trip, and a subsequent one years later, we enjoyed experiences there that were mesmerizing to me as a kid, and even intriguing as an adult. Experiences like Space Mountain, The Haunted Mansion and Star Tours, were amazing. It truly does feel like a magical place.
A Rested Development
Long before it was an American hit sitcom, or a rap music group, the term "arrested development" was used to describe a condition in which the individual ceases normal psychological development (or is stuck in a particular psychological development stage) due to trauma, lacking some aspect of nurturance, or a chemical addiction. Though no longer used in that manner among psychological professionals, the concept crossed my mind as I thought about the topic of this post. I thought of it as a play on words, but nevertheless, to drive home a point.
In an earlier post, I wrote about the importance of the rhythms of life. The final point of that post was the importance of the "Rhythm of Rest and Self-Care." As we consider the drive of living our purpose in life, one of the first considerations is not usually taking a rest. Understandably, our drive and desire to live purposefully may also be a drive to think only of activity and neglect the balance that our lives need. How may our development of a purposeful life be arrested if we neglect our rest?
Jesus gave us the example of a balanced life. He was fully committed to His purpose...the most important mission in all the world. He led a very busy life of ministry leading up to His ultimate sacrifice as Messiah. Yet, he always made sure to find time for rest and for solitude. When God set the example for us in His acts of creation, he established the Sabbath rest. The regular rhythm of rest is what we need...God knows that.
And I gave them my Sabbath days of rest as a sign between them and me. It was to remind them that I am the LORD, who had set them apart to be holy.
And He said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
The Apostle Peter reminds us that a relationship with Jesus actually promotes rest...for the soul.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7
Jesus put it this way...
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
So...what does rest look like for you...daily rest, weekly rest, times of retreat and solitude? These are all important in the rhythm of life. Rest can include many things...each person is unique in how they find rest and refreshment. Think about what it is that is life-giving for you. What is it that, when you have engaged it, you emerge energized, fulfilled and prepared for the challenges of life? Consider some suggestions:
Universal Elements of Rest
For the follower of Christ, there are some elements of rest that can be incorporated into any rest experience we find rejuvenating. Consider how these fit your unique choices.
So, there you have it...my thoughts on the importance of incorporating rest into your life. God, the Father, instructed it; Jesus, His Son, modeled it; and, through His Spirit, enables it. Now, it is our responsibility to plan it. If you do, you will find "a rested development" of a well-balanced life.
How do you find rest in the midst of the busyness of life? What are your favorite modes of rest? Have you experienced the negative effects of a lack of adequate rest? If so, how did you deal with it? Please share your thoughts in the comments. Like and share the post on social media. We really do want to have a conversation about living our purpose well...sharing your story may be just the thing someone else needs to hear.
Two of the most awe-inspiring places I've ever visited, as an American, were thousands of miles apart, but their impact comes from the same source. Those two locations were Arlington National Cemetery and Normandy American Cemetery.
I remember my first visit to Arlington National Cemetery just outside Washington, DC. Observing the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier was a moving experience. The solemn silence of that ceremony, with the precision performance of the guards, punctuate the purpose of the place...to honor all of those who have fallen in battle, who's bodies are lost or who were unable to be identified. Taking that into consideration, as I stood and gazed across the rolling hills lined with more than 14,000 white grave markers, I was struck by the reality of the sacrifice and investment made by millions of people over the history of our nation.
Fast-forward two decades and 3,749 miles, I find myself standing on the grounds of the Normandy American Cemetery. There, as in Arlington, I saw the perfect lines of white makers, identifying the graves of over 9,000 troops who died in Europe during World War II. These were individuals who gave the ultimate sacrifice to insure freedom for millions who were being persecuted, oppressed and murdered by the advancement of tyranny and dictatorial evil intent on taking over the world. As I stood that day, looking out over Omaha Beach, where allied troops landed to make headway in driving back the advancement of tyranny, a Frenchman stood next to me. Knowing that I am an American, he looked at me and said, "Thank you for what your country did here for the people of France."
On this Memorial Day, we must continue to be reminded of the value of those who have served our nation well as members of the armed forces. Most importantly, we remember the great price paid by many who have given the most...by giving their lives. Their sacrifice has helped to preserve freedom for Americans and others around the world. When we stand in places like Arlington National Cemetery, there is a sense that those who have sacrificed for our freedom, stand in the stadium of the heavens looking on, cheering us on, to continue to fight for liberty and defend against the evils of those who are intent upon destroying life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all in this world who cherish freedom.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
The writer of the book of Hebrews also spoke of a "stadium" of onlookers who cheer for those who are in the fray of the daily pursuit of our life of faith. In this visual that the Hebrews writer gives us, the context is that of an athletic race of endurance. This race of the life of faith is from salvation to our eternal destination. As we run this race, were are being cheered on by this huge crowd of witnesses who have gone before us...they have completed the race. Now, they cheer for us to complete it as well.
Others Have Pioneered the Way
One of the things that Memorial Day does for Americans is to remind us that others have paved the way for us to enjoy the freedoms we have today. In some ways, we realize that we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. This inspires us to continue to stand strong for freedom and strength as a nation. In the visual of Hebrews 12, the same thing is provided. We are reminded that we have this legacy of faith because many have gone before us to lay the foundation. We are inspired to follow in their path of the race that has been laid out before us. They surround us. They encourage us with their faithful race. They remind us that we do not run in vain. Our hearts are inspired. Our faith in spurred on to strengthen our race.
They Remind Us What is Required
No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer (2 Timothy 2:4). Those who serve our nation in the military, do so with a commitment and lifestyle that sacrifices the things that civilians take for granted. They volunteer to place themselves under the direction of a commander who expects their complete loyalty to the cause...to the mission to which they have been assigned. In this race of faith...this warfare that we fight...the cloud of witnesses reminds us that we are called to make the choices to live a disciplined and dedicated life of faith.
So, let's stick with one metaphor here. The Hebrews passage is using the metaphor of running a race. He tells us that there are two things we must do in order to run this race well...running with endurance. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules (2 Timothy 2:5). Let's consider the "rules" given here in Hebrews 12:
1. Lay aside every weight
No runner, wanting to finish the race of endurance well, wants to carry extra weight. Rather, a runner makes sure that they have nothing to hinder their performance. For the follower of Christ, running the race of faith, the same is true. We are encouraged to lay aside anything that will slow us down in our race. The Apostle Paul wrote about this principle, "Everything is permissible for me," but not everything is helpful. "Everything is permissible for me," but I will not be brought under the control of anything (1 Corinthians 6:12). To run well means that we sometimes we make decisions about what is best, not just what is right. So, think of what areas of life that may hold issues for you here. Are there things that distract you from priorities? Are there activities that prevent you from focusing on what is really important? Are there involvements that become addictive? These aren't sin in themselves, but they are weights that slow you down in running the race well. These are the things that need to be laid aside.
2. Lay aside every sin
This is a little more clear...usually. As a follower of Christ, we accept the Word of God as our guide for faith and life. It is the truth that instructs us concerning right and wrong...the absolutes and the laws that lay out for us how to live a life of holiness that benefits us and fulfills our calling. As Ephesians 4:1 reminds us, "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called..." Through confession and repentance, we can lay aside the sins that, don't just slow us down, but which entangle us...presenting the danger of causing us to fall. We cannot hope to run our race of faith without giving attention to this process. The promise we are given, when we commit ourselves to holiness, is forgiveness. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 1:9-2:1). So, you see, laying aside the sin that entangles us is a matter or confession and the forgiveness of God. It is as simple as that.
We Have the Perfect Champion
This is all about focus. The soldier on the battlefield is attentive to the orders of the commander. The athlete on the field must be focused on the instructions of the coach. In our race of faith, we have the perfect "coach." He has "initiated" and "perfected" our faith. Jesus is not a "religious leader" who just demands and orders his followers to blindly do things that keep them under his control. Instead, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice to initiate and complete the faith that we have acquired. Therefore, we can run our race with our eyes fixed upon Him...we listen to His voice...we watch for His hand at work in our lives. It is His work in us, and His power in us, that enables us to finish the race successfully. He is in the place of power and status, at the right hand of the Father. The good news is, we are seated there with Him. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved--and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus... (Ephesians 2:4-6). Being seated with Christ at the Father's right hand means we have access to all the power, covering, wisdom, grace and sustenance that we need to run well and to finish well.
What an amazing visual to imagine, that all the saints of the ages past are gathered around us in the heavenly realm, cheering us on to victory as we run our race of faith with endurance. That race is possible because of the One who's Spirit lives in us. We can finish the race well...we can fulfill our purpose for which God designed us. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up (Galatians 6:8-9). We will not grow weary in living our purpose as long as we allow His Spirit to fill us daily.
Who are the specific people who have gone before you to pave the way of faith? What have you laid aside that has helped you to run more effectively? Comment, like and share this post to get the conversation going!
A Profitable Investment Strategy
Erwin Wullschleger, Jr. (Mr. W, I'll call him). You probably don't know him, but hearing the name, it sort of sticks with you. Speaking of sticking with you, Mr. W continues to stick in my mind even though the last time I saw him was in 1973.
It was a sunny school day in junior high school. I remember vividly being called out of class that afternoon and asked to take a walk with my English teacher, Mr. W. I wasn't sure what this was all about, but it was okay with me, because I trusted this teacher. He proceeded, as we strolled the school grounds, to express his concern that my grades had dropped recently and I didn't seem to be putting forth my usual effort or engagement in class. All of the teachers had noticed it. As he shared and asked for my feedback about what I thought was at the heart of the problem, I felt safe and knew that I could be open and honest with Mr. W. I began to open up and tell him that things were tough at home. My parents had not been getting along very well and I was upset about how things were going. I found it hard to concentrate on my homework and classwork because of the sadness and fear that was constantly on my mind. I wasn't neglected at home and I was provided a safe and supportive environment. Family members knew what was going on and provided support and comfort in ways that they could. However, the emotional impact of what was happening felt overwhelming. That day, walking with my junior high English teacher made a difference. It helped me to know that he and other teachers would be supportive and take measures to help support my functioning at school. It didn't change what was happening in my life, but it added one more aspect of support to better equip me to cope and keep moving forward. It is important to note, however, that his gesture was not the beginning of Mr. W's impact upon my life, it was the culmination. There was a reason that he could have that important conversation with me that day.
Rewind almost two years to the beginning of 7th grade. Mr. W was a new teacher at our school. He came to our small southern town from Cleveland, Ohio. Being from the north, his accent and mannerisms were a little different from that to which I was accustomed. He was firm with classroom control, but, as I recall, he was creative and liked to provide unique learning opportunities. Other teachers did this too. But there was something different about Mr. W. He was also very open about his interest in impacting kids outside the walls of King Springs School.
It wasn't long into that 7th grade year that Mr. W took notice of me. He seemed to believe that I had promise beyond the average junior higher. I'm not sure what he saw in me...and he did not limit this to me...but the way he engaged with me, and the things he told me, sent the message that I had great potential and could achieve significant things in my life. I won't take the time to detail all of the ways he invested in me, but they were significant and many. Just let me summarize...he encouraged me to participate in an oratorical competition and coached me two years in a row. I won district 2nd place and 1st place respectively in that contest. He asked me to join an effort to create a community service organization we called Group Action Project (GAP) in which we secured an empty house in a poor neighborhood and hosted fun activities, provided snacks and offered tutoring to children of the area each Saturday morning. He took me to a local youth camp to introduce me to the facility and dream about how it may be used to further the work with the underprivileged youth. He invited me and a girl from our class to come to his home and have dinner with him and his wife...to help us develop social skills in a more formal setting. You see, that stroll on the school grounds in 1973 wasn't the first time that Mr. W and I had a serious conversation. He had spent time intentionally investing in me over months, that had earned him the right to speak into a tough situation.
It has been a long time since I last saw Mr. W as I lost track of him and he has since passed away. However, because of his intentional investment in a naïve, simple junior high student, his impact and legacy have been lasting. I'm quite sure he probably had similar influence in many lives over the years. I can tell you, however, his investment in me yielded good returns. Since then, others have made investments as well...an aunt and uncle, Rosella and Oscar Huffman, Pastor Tommy Maines, Theater Professor Joe Jones, Education Professor Dr. Ken Riggs, Music Professor Vernon Whaley and entrepreneur John Saddington. Each of these, and others whom space does not allow me to mention, have made investments in my life that have reaped great returns. For their investments, I am deeply indebted. Perhaps that is why I have taken seriously the opportunities that God has given me to invest in the lives of others. No matter how I have lived out my purpose of making a difference in the lives of others, through sharing the good news of Jesus, it has been most effective when I am engaging in an incarnational ministry relationship with another person. This may have been with a student, working with a youth or college-aged person through student/campus ministry, counseling in the local church or agency, life coaching, accountability relationships, or doing therapy with foster kids. It all involves investment.
Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.
2 Timothy 2:1-2
Why Personal Investment in People is a Profitable Strategy
We hear much in the media and marketing about investing for our future...for retirement. There are many options available for anyone to grow their financial wealth in preparation for those later years. Whether we consider individual stocks, mutual funds, 401k, Roth IRA, employer retirement plans, or even cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, it can all be rather confusing and sometimes risky. Perhaps risk is always something to consider...some investment instruments offer more risk than others, as we are always concerned about the Return on Investment (ROI).
When it comes to investment in people, considering a few important benefits makes it clear that the returns are worth any risk that may be involved.
There is also a return for the one who is investing. Jesus has told us that we can live in such a way that we are making heavenly investments. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21). Where we invest ourselves will determine where our hearts lie. When we invest in the eternal welfare of another, we are making deposits in our heavenly retirement account. The good thing is, it's not the FDIC that guarantees that investment, it is God Himself!
What is the Next Step?
If you agree that investing in people is not only biblical, but urgently needed in our world, what will you do about it? What is your purpose? Generally, as a Christ follower, it is to glorify Him and to point others to Him as you love Him supremely and love others as yourself. Specifically, however, your purpose...the unique context in which you carry out that general purpose...that is where you can focus to determine what investing in others looks like for your. Is it your children at home because you're in that season of life, or that coworker or supervision report that needs you to take them under your wing? Maybe it is that youth of a single parent at church, or a college student you know. Ask God to show you who may need your investment...praying for awareness and guidance often opens our eyes to the people who are right there before us and we may not have noticed before. A willing heart is the first step.
Erwin Wullschleger, Jr. may never know what an impact he had on a junior high student in whom he took the time to invest. I've often wished I had looked him up and shared my appreciation for what he did for me. Nevertheless, I think he has some idea now, as he has laid up treasures in heaven.
Who has made significant investments in your life? Share a story of how they impacted you, in the comments below. Share this post to spread the love!
Resuming the Route
He has a good sense of direction so when there's a traffic back-up, he tries the back roads to get around it. It doesn't matter that it doesn't eventually save any time, it's just the fact that he can keep moving. Even though it takes just as long, and involves more miles, he feels satisfied that he is able to be "making progress" instead of sitting still in traffic on the interstate. His wife has come to realize this is sort of his method of operation on road trips and sometimes, she will say, "Don't you want to just be patient and wait in out?" But, most of the time, she just humorously asks, "Do you know where you're going?" Undaunted, however, he revels in his achievement when he emerges triumphant in bypassing the back-up and gets back on the original route beyond the jam, and moving once again at highway speed.
Does this sound familiar? I can speak so well of this scenario because this guy is me. I think it may be a man thing, but maybe many of the females reading this can relate as well. Sometimes my endeavors serve me well, and sometimes it gets me into a situation where I'm no better off than I was sitting in the creeping line of cars. Sometimes I get off the original route because I consciously choose to try a different route. However, at other times, I missed a turn, requiring me to recalculate my route and ultimately losing time in reaching my destination.
The reality?...we all get sidetracked sometimes. What do we do when it happens? Just this week, for example, I missed publishing this post on Tuesday as I have been doing weekly all year. You're seeing this post become available on Friday, three days later than usual. How do I deal with that? Maybe your'e thinking, "That's no big deal." But, for some of us, just getting off track on even a little thing in life can cause our rhythms to be upset and we end up spiraling in some way. This could be simple and short-lived in something as basic as a diet, or something as serious and impactful as an addiction. So, here are a few principles I've learned that you may find helpful to recalculate your route if you get side-tracked.
There is a better way. It is to think intentionally, to look at things realistically and to give yourself permission to keep going without expectations that are irrational for yourself.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.
How have you had to recalculate your course when sidetracked? What unhelpful thinking are you most vulnerable to? Are there strategies you can share to help others in this situation? Share in the comments and like our posts. We are so happy you are engaging in our community.
Bloom Where You're Planted
In the summer of 2000, my family and I made a trip from middle Tennessee to Los Angeles, crossing the western states by car. It was our first time making this trek and we loved seeing the beauty of the terrain, the mountains, the rock formations and the desert. As we passed through Kingman, Arizona, we approached the stretch of highway that crossed the Mahave Desert. For all of us, this was our first experience being in the desert environment. I remember feeling a little nervous about the drive as we stopped to make sure our fuel tank was full and our water supply was sufficient.
The beauty of the landscape was breathtaking. Even in an area that was so barren and hot (116 degrees F), it was awe-inspiring to see the mountains, cacti, and the colors of the terrain. We stopped at one point to take a break, pulling off into a small town along the way. As we stepped out of the vehicle, the heat and warm breeze felt so different from anything I had ever experienced. As we always say, "It was a dry heat." There was no humidity in the air that made it feel muggy and sticky, as we were accustomed to in the southeastern part of the country. Instead, it was dry and arid. There was almost an eerie feeling of being caught in this oven, where, if your air conditioner failed, you would not survive. These were not necessarily rational thoughts, but felt real just the same. It is hard to imagine that flowers could survive in such harsh conditions. Yet, it is possible...and even natural...for flowering plants to exist there. It is a beautiful illustration of being able to bloom where you are planted. Even the same desert place in different years can produce very different vegetation. When the rainfall varies between 0.2 inches and 4.7 inches, as these two photos show, the same location can look very different (photos from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum).
In this week's podcast, Jasman interviews award-winning contemporary gospel artist, Chesternique, about the seasons of life and how God works through them in our journey (take a listen here). As she unfolded her journey that has led her currently to the work and ministry of serving as a social worker, I was struck by her sharing of three things she has learned, that can be summed up as "blooming where you are planted."
Humility - Sprout Before You Can Bloom (Contentment)
Every beautiful rose, or towering oak, starts out as a tiny sprout. Small, easily overlooked, and seemingly insignificant, they break through the soil and poke their heads into the sunshine to start their life of destiny...being the American Beauty or the acorn-producing home of the squirrel family. But, the beginning is a humble one.
Just as Chesternique spoke of the season of being a background singer and what she learned in that experience, in our journey of fulfilling our purpose, we will likely find ourselves in the background at times. We may see that our journey is taking us through a season of serving and wondering, "How does this fulfill the purpose to which God is calling me?" (I wrote about that in a previous post). In those seasons, if we will find contentment in humbly being our best in that role, we will be able to soak in all of the nutrients and resources that will enable us to thrive and bloom when our time comes. These seasons are just as important as the others. We can be just as productive and influential. But, it is all about our attitude and approach to that time in our life. Humility and contentment is the key.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Time is Valuable - Give Yourself Time to Grow (Development)
I remember learning the "Laws of the Harvest" many years ago. They are simple truths that are valuable to learn early on in life. I have found them to be true...both for the positive and negative outcomes they represent. They are:
1. You always reap what you sow.
2. You always reap more than you sow.
3. You always reap later than you sow.
That third law is the hardest. I remember the few times that I attempted my hand at gardening, as a kid. I loved the tilling, preparing and sowing of the seed. Waiting for the harvest was excruciating to me. I guess I was a little impatient. But, when those plants started to break through the soil, or when those plants started to produce blooms that were going to bring fruit, I got excited.
As we pursue our purpose in life, we often expect results and a great harvest right away, not thinking about how much time is involved in growing into that place of abundance. One of the struggles of many newly married couples is the expectation that they should immediately enjoy the lifestyle and amenities that their parents afforded them at home. They forget that it took decades for their parents to be in a position to provide the blessings that they enjoyed while they were at home with them.
Give yourself time...time to grow, time to learn, time to develop into the person God intends for you to be. Waiting doesn't mean being idle, it just means being patient and being willing to work well with all that God has placed within your hands at that moment, making the most of it for His glory. He will take care of the rest.
“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together! ’
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Your Gift is Valuable - Value What You Have to Offer (Opportunity)
There are currently approximately 374,000 identified species of plants in the world, with approximately 80% of those being flowering plants. Can you imagine all of the varying flowers that represents? When most of us think about flowers, we have maybe 10-12 variations that come to mind, which we plant in our flower garden or use to adorn our patios and homes. However, if you used all 295,000 flowering plants to decorate your home and garden, you would be overrun with a jungle and no place to sit, eat or sleep! But, think of how beautiful all of those flowers would be. Each one unique, exotic and colorful in its own way.
You are a unique creation of God. He has designed you, gifted and equipped you, with all of the special traits, abilities and characteristics to be the person He has called you to be! That means your gift is valuable...the gift you have to offer and the gift you are to the world...to His kingdom. Don't sell yourself short, or underestimate the person He is making you to be, and the great things He wants to do in and through you for His glory. I've said it before, but it bears repeating...you are a masterpiece. Just as the Stradivarius has the sweetest sound and the most expensive price because of the master who made it, you will exhibit the most beautiful life with the highest value because of the Master who has made you and who has called you to a special role in His plan...a plan to bring eternal life to the world. Whatever your gift...whatever your role...it is valuable, and God wants to use it in amazing ways.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
So, there you have it...bloom where you're planted...whether you are just sprouting, in the growing season, or filling out your life with beautiful flowers for all to enjoy. It is all a fragrant aroma to the Father who has planted you and continues to nourish your growth for the harvest that He has ordained. Bloom beautifully, my friends! Your beauty is needed in our world!
Check out the biography and music of this week's podcast guest, Chesternique at her website: www.chesterniquemusic.com.
In what stage of growth do you find yourself? There are cycles of seasons, so you may have been in full bloom, and now find yourself back at the sprouting stage. How are you handling the transitions and the process? Let's share in the comments below and get the conversation going! Please comment and share, if you find our content inspiring.
With over forty years of ministry experience, Randy Kinnick continues to live a life of pursuing the purpose for which he was created. Whether teaching God's Word to adults, coaching youth and young adults in finding their purpose, or caring for the hurting and abused in Southeast Asia, the adventure has taken him around the world in ways he could have never dreamed. The adventure continues!