The Importance of the Present - Managing Life's Demands AND God's Calling

Photo by Chris Benson

Photo by Chris Benson

My parents died when my children were very young. My son remembers them but the memories are few. My daughter really can’t remember them at all.

One thing my Mother told me before she died while she was holding my little boy was, “Wendy, be present when you’re with these babies.” She went on to explain that one of the most important gifts you can bestow on anyone is your attention when you give your time.

I’ve never forgotten that. I didn’t always practice that, but just as soon as I realized my kids were pulling on me when they were little or saying “You’re not listening” as they got older, I would stop what I was doing and give them my full attention. Those times were and are priceless! I have to say, my Mother was full of great advice (and so was my Dad).

I say all that to say this, time with the ones we love is precious. They’re here one minute and gone the next. I know what it’s like to be so busy with work and what I feel God is calling me to do that I short change those I love. I have to consciously STOP and be in the present when in the presence of others. At first, it was difficult, but once I got it through my thick skull that things are temporary, people are of ETERNAL value and that my FAMILY is who God has entrusted to me, it’s much easier.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 1 Peter 1:3-4 ESV

Even now I have to keep reminding myself that all the things I feel like God is calling me to do may not be what He wants me to do at this moment. For example, I believe God is calling me to be a writer and author and He has blessed me with my first self-published book. I know He will have me complete the series that I started, He has me writing this blog and there are a few other things I believe He will have me write and do. But at the present time, I am still working full-time and preparing for a move - a move that is so much God’s calling. So I write at a much slower pace than I’d like to write. I note topics of things that He gives me. And I read His word so I am ready when the time comes.

Hold fast to your calling! Work toward your calling. Be in the present. You may find that His calling is as much in the journey as it is the destination! The good works you are doing by truly living in the present as you follow Christ in the “NOW” of your calling may never be fully known this side of heaven.

I’d love to hear from you! What are some areas you are being called to serve our great Father?

Led by the Tyranny of the Urgent - Managing Life's Demands AND God's Calling

Photo by Volha Flaxeco

Photo by Volha Flaxeco

Do you ever struggle with getting to God’s calling and getting things done that can’t seem to wait? I do. All. The. Time.

If you are like me then you have family, job, church, friends, job, family, job, things that get sprung on you, job, family and all the things you feel God is calling you to do on your plate at the same time. Yes, I know I repeated the job and family a few times, but you understand what I mean, don’t you?

I mean everyone in the house needs to eat (multiple times a day), they need clean clothes, they need some quality time after you’ve worked all day at your full-time job. You sprinkle in church and maybe a little time with friends or the kids activities take up the rest of your time daily and weekly, yet you have the unction from the Holy Spirit there is more He has for you.

Take a breath. That’s right, just breathe. Slowly inhale - hold it - now slowly exhale. And again… Feeling just a little calmer? I hope so. Repeat as necessary.

We all struggle with the demands of life. Often there is more thrown at us than we can possibly deal with, but we have choices to make.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Colossians 3:2 ESV

I don’t believe that this verse teaches us to shirk our earthly responsibilities. But rather in all that we do, do it for the Lord.

In my case, I believe God has been calling me to write for a long time, but I didn’t even realize it most of my adult life. I am now working from home full-time with my children grow and out of the house. My husband is retired and we are entering another very busy phase of life. In case you’re wondering, we are moving to a more quiet place, with a smaller house and fewer responsibilities. Not so we can play more, but so we can serve more. We feel that God is calling us to serve together on mission trips and service in and around our home. So He has made a way we can let go of some of the earthly things that have held us captive.

So let’s talk about being led by the tyranny of the urgent. Most of us know all too well what this is like. Before we can complete one thing the next thing is calling us and before we know it we’re exhausted and can’t seem to accomplish any one thing fully.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

Take some time to consider the season of life you are in right now. If you have children still at home, is there any greater calling than bringing them us in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? I think not. So all that you do for your family you are doing for the Lord. If you know God is calling you to be a full-time missionary, do it in such a way that your children also embrace the calling. If God is calling you to serve or start as service, do it and include your children. But know this, God wants to use you where you are in all of the capacities that He chooses.

This means you’ll have to say “No” to some things. Those things may even be good things like teaching a Sunday School class or playing an instrument. Trust me when I say I know the pressure others can put on you because they want you to use your gift in their ministry.

Yes, there are things that have to be done. Housework is never ending and needs to be done. Jobs are required in this life because it takes money to live. But you don’t have to scrub every inch of your house with a toothbrush to do a good job cleaning and you don’t have to accept every offer of overtime on the job. You can do a good job and serve Christ in your home and your work AND serve in the areas He is calling.

You may know that your call is to be an author. But you still have to work a job full-time, so writing is a slow process now. You know that one day, writing will become the main thing. So do what’s needed of you now AND develop the skills you need to serve in the capacity that the Lord is calling you. Trust me, He is using you now in the very calling that you are called to do.

I hope this makes sense. Don’t be led by the tyranny of the urgent, but do identify the season of life you are in and how God is using you in this season. Do your best for the Lord now right where you are. As you read scripture, you may think some of the heroes of the faith just up and appeared a hero. If that’s how you see it, read their stories again.

David was told as a boy that he was going to be king of Israel - even anointed as a boy. But it was YEARS before God made him king. After David was told of his calling, he remained a shepherd; he killed a giant as a teenager (because God had taught him to stand before lions as a shepherd); then he grew into a warrior under the king whose place he would take; he lived a life on the run from the present king and developed a following, so he learned to be a leader- all the while knowing God’s call on his life was to be the king of Israel. Don’t you see God was training David for the role God had long ago told David he would serve in?

Squash the tyranny of the urgent. Identify what has eternal importance. Do what’s needed with eternity as the focus. Accept the training program God has you in at the moment.

I would love to hear how God is using you now and where you feel He is leading you! Leave me a comment or email me directly. Our God is at work around us and in us!

Reconciliation - Hard to Do But Great Rewards -Part 4

photo by mael-balland at unsplash

photo by mael-balland at unsplash

So our last discussion about reconciliation is that between parent and child. First, please know that God put you together. As the parent, your love for our child really is unconditional (at least as a believer) and whether we disapprove of a behavior or some situation in our child’s life, we love our child! As a child, you can’t help but love and want to feel love from your parent. There is a natural bond between the two.

Now, I do understand that the above can be tainted if one or both have a true mental illness. But otherwise, is the problem, situation or hurt really worth the estrangement?

Again, we must remember that we can only do our part. What is our part?

  1. Accept responsibility - even if you don’t feel you are in the wrong, somewhere, somehow you have played a part - maybe your part has just been being unwilling to forgive

  2. Apologize for your part in the matter - whatever part that is

  3. Forgive them - whether they ask for your forgiveness or not. Forgiveness restores your relationship with Christ and releases the bitter, hard feelings you have toward the other

  4. Live peaceably - this may be difficult when the other party doesn’t want to reconcile, but do your part

  5. Pray, pray, pray for this person - trust me when I tell you that God will work a miracle in your heart toward someone you’ve had unforgiveness toward and you consistently pray for them. You will start to see them as God sees you - a hopeless sinner except by His mercy and grace…

Let’s look at scripture.

Ephesians 6:1-4 says “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

The above verses don’t say “unless they do…” or “except when they…”.

Child you are to obey your parents so long as you are under their care and their direction does not violate God’s word. Regardless, of your age you are to honor your father and mother. That does not mean you have to be mistreated by them, but you can stand up with honor. You can choose to show respect even if you disagree.

Parents are not to drive their child to exasperation-don’t provoke them. Don’t push and prod to the point the child feels demoralized and broken or driven by anger. Instead, teach them the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Show and teach them what is right by God’s standard. Lovingly hold them accountable while they are under your care. Once they are out of your house, keep loving them even when you don’t agree with their actions.

Is this always easy? Of course not! Do we mess up? Yes, we do. - both parent and child. Is there forgiveness? YES, always from God when we repent and yes, there should be between parent and child if both are believers. And if only one of you are a believer, what better way to demonstrate the love of God to the lost one than by forgiving and living peaceably?

Reconciliation can be hard, but the rewards are great! I’m praying for you! If you find yourself in the midst of needing reconciliation, cry out to Jesus and follow Him down the road to reconciliation!

Reconciliation - Hard to Do But Great Rewards -Part 3

Photo by Annie Spratt

Photo by Annie Spratt

Reconciliation has many facets. We’ve talked about the most important - being reconciled to God. And we’ve talked about our purpose as believers and followers of Jesus Christ - reconciling others to God. But what about the reconciliation that sometimes needs to happen in families? Specifically, the reconciliation between siblings.

Unless you’re an only child, you’ve probably experienced a situation where there was a need for reconciliation between siblings. Depending on the circumstances this can sometimes be harder for some than others. But forgiveness, which is the first step in reconciliation, is yours.

but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15

God is the only being who can forgive and forget. We are not capable of forgetting, but forgiveness is a choice. Yes, it may take a lot of prayer and determination, but when forgiveness is complete, the record keeping of the other’s wrong is dropped.

Think about this…when you harbor unforgiveness toward someone what happens to you? You become bitter. Bitterness becomes mean. Mean spreads to everyone, not just the one to whom you are bitter towards. (Maybe not 100% of the time, but often.) Thus, your life becomes consumed by this unforgiveness.

When you truly want reconciliation you must first forgive - truly forgive - that person who has wronged you. Pray about it. Realize that Jesus died for them just as He died for you. Realize that Jesus loves them just as much as He does you. Realize that they are a sinner, even if a saint also, just as you are.

17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:17-19 ESV

You, alone, cannot make reconciliation happen. It takes both parties to reconcile. But you can do your part. You can forgive which removes your searing pain and takes away your bitterness, and you can love your sibling anyway which keeps them dear to you.

Unfortunately, even when both parties forgive and make amends, the relationship may never go back to the way it was before. God is the only one Who can truly wipe the slate clean. Perhaps, over time, the relationship will get close to the way it was, but that doesn’t always happen, even when both parties are followers of Christ.

One thing I do know is that life is short and it is a wonderful thing to know that you have no regrets with someone when they die.

So do the “as much as is possible that depends on you” and forgive and/or ask for forgiveness and then live peaceably.. This removes your bitterness and/or guilt, and it restores your relationship to Christ. The part of the reconciliation with the other party is then up to them.

Complete reconciliation is the goal. After all, Jesus is the Healer and when we let Him, He will completely HEAL our broken relationships.