Welcome to 2014 everyone ~ Happy New Year!
Well, I did it; I started my year off with victory!
(Yes, I really am at the top of the hill right in the middle by the trees – arms raised in victory! My camera died, so this is the only shot I have.)
In the spirit of living deliberately, I determined to run to the top of a hill near our apartment that has been taunting me for the last six weeks. Really it’s just a hill, but seems so severely vertical to me that it probably stands out on one of those topographical maps we all studied in 8th grade geology class. You know, those maps with the squinchy brown lines indicating a terrain as steep as Pikes Peak.
Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. In reality it’s probably no higher than a mere mole hole, but it may as well have been Pikes Peak to me. What on earth made me think I could race up that thing when I’ve been sitting on a couch eating Fritos for the last 25 years?
Thoreau. Thoreau made me do it. He dared me to live deliberately and I took him up on it.
But this year’s challenge isn’t going to be about Thoreau. He can’t truly be my only motivation. This year is going to be ~ no, it’s got to be about Jesus or I’m out. Thoreau was not speaking from a Christian perspective, so I want to be sure that my intention to live deliberately is something Jesus would support. It was one of the questions I asked in my last blog entry:
Is there a place in Scripture that confirms living deliberately?
I believe there is and I believe this verse is going to become the foundation of our journey together this year: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
Usually, the first few words of Romans 8:28 sidetrack me. I often focus on the excitement that God is going to solve and resolve everything that’s going wrong in my life and turn it to good. We’ll leave that detour for the moment and come back to it another day. Instead, the Lord has been replaying the last few words of the verse over and over to my spirit and wants me to focus on them: “To those who are called according to His purpose.”
Those who believe in Jesus have a calling; we have a purpose, and God determines what that purpose is. If we get serious about living according to our purpose, we will automatically position ourselves to live deliberately as Thoreau encouraged, but it certainly won’t look like Thoreau’s life.
Problem. I have a problem.
What if I don’t like some of the things God has “purposed” for me? The Christian life isn’t always a day at the beach, you know.
Like 1 Peter 4:1 for example, “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.”
Or this little nugget, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Philippians 3:10
The fellowship of Jesus’ sufferings?
Being conformed to his death?
Living purposefully (or meaningfully) requires that we live “all” of life. I can’t pick and choose to engage only with the fun and happy times; I have to live all of them, but that’s really hard. I learned something interesting about myself when I was working on the Considering Jesus material last year and I want to pursue it a bit more in the weeks to come:
When I bump into something I don’t want to do, feels too hard to do, or is just outright painful, I withdraw from the present; I retreat. I find a place or a way to hide from the difficult and disappear. So, if I check out of the present, I cannot possibly be intentional about living. That behavior pattern absolutely has to change.
In order to unlock the barriers of living deliberately, I hope to give you some keys that will help.
Key #1 REMAIN PRESENT IN THE PRESENT
Jesus had to fight to remain in the present during his final prayer time in the Garden of Gethsemane as he poured out his feelings about his coming crucifixion to his Father. He said in Luke 22:42, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Jesus was talking about a future event in a present moment. Jesus remained connected to his own present condition of agony while he talked with his father about the reality of his torture and death that were only moments away.
Peter, James, and John (Jesus closest disciples) couldn’t handle any of it. They totally checked out. The emotional agony of losing Jesus was so searing that they opted out. Instead of remaining with Jesus through his most difficult hours, the disciples whom Jesus loved chose the route many of us choose when things get too sad or overwhelming; they fell asleep.
“When Jesus rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow.” Luke 22:45
Sleeping from sorrow; that’s one way to avoid the present. Many who suffer from depression describe days and days of oversleeping because the pain they experience in the present is just too much to bear. The inherent hope of sleeping through sorrow is that when they wake, the pain will have passed and they will never have to face it. The disciples understood that.
What are some ways we avoid being present in the present?
- Retreating to the past ~ Remembering and daydreaming about better times
- Zooming ahead to the future ~ Fantasizing about an easier, happier life
- Disappearing into cyberspace ~ Idling in neutral until the pain passes
- Falling asleep ~ Escaping today’s hardship altogether
Not surprisingly, Jesus provides a great example of how to remain present in the present when barraged by difficulty. Jesus knew exactly what to do. We’ll look at Jesus’ solution to facing pain in the present in the next blog entry, but for now, today’s challenge is to reconnect to the life we are living.
Let’s start and end 2014 in victory, so consider what you can do today to reconnect with life around you. Stay on the positive side of things as you look for things and patterns that provide forward momentum.
Make a list.
Make a plan.
Grab a buddy to help you.
Let’s live this year!
© Copyright, 2014 by Donna Tallman.