August 30, 2017

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Psalm 40:2 – Pits of Destruction & Miry Bogs

I saw a picture on Instagram this morning from @desiringgod.  It quoted Psalm 40:2:  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of my miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.

 

My grandfather died on Friday, and we bury him tomorrow, so wasted time and wasted days are on my mind a lot right now.  What occurred to me when I read this verse is just how literally I’ve always translated it.  I’ve always thought of this verse in terms of how God has saved so many people from lives of addiction and lawlessness, and how grateful the ones I’ve met are for it. 

Today, that’s not what I’m thinking.  Sometimes, for some people – myself included – what that miry bog and pit of destruction really look like is a life of luxury, and plenty, and abundance, but none of it has the stamp of God on it.  I’ve driven my nice cars and worn my nice clothes and gone to my nice churches and still had the stink of the grave all over me and no sign of God anywhere in my life to be seen because I was so busy living for myself and not thinking about God AT ALL!  I’ve been selfish, self-centered, and self-righteous.  Thinking I had my act together – and looking like it, too – but never letting God into all the parts of my heart.  Trying to behave well, without trying to be well.  And those days were empty and wasted and more disconnected from God than people could possibly imagine.

Yesterday and today I have been fretting over the fact that I did not bring a suitable outfit for my grandfather’s viewing, only an outfit for the funeral.  The bottom line is:  I’ve not been to enough funerals to remember that there’s usually a viewing or visitation beforehand.  Besides that, I got a frenzied call from my mother after my grandfather’s second seizure on Friday, asking me to bring her and my father some things from their home, and we live eight hours away from my grandparents.  I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, my mother was crying and distraught, I’d just heard my grandfather most likely would not still be alive by the time I arrived, and I could not think straight.  All of this before 9 a.m. on Friday.  And now, here I sit, just a little over 48 hours later and I am worried about the fact that I “should have” thought about a simple change of clothes. 

That’s pit of destruction, miry bog thinking.  And I am just done!

My grandfather loved me.  He is even better able to love me now.  My family loves me.  The most important thing is that I do what I do out of love for all of them.  Because 2 days from now, nobody is going to remember OR CARE that I didn’t have appropriate-enough clothes for 2 functions.  What’s going to matter is that I showed up and served as I could with my whole heart because I love these people and they are suffering! 

I refuse to let Satan cajole me, rush me, or make me take my focus off of being present for my family over a simple change of clothes.  People are rushing around trying to please everyone, making sure they have decent clothes to wear.  On the one hand, it is endearing.  It really is.  Everyone trying to make these days as they should be.  But on the other hand, all this rushing around over a change of clothes has people stressing over something that we have been told in Scripture not to worry about. 

Granted, I may not look as beautiful as a lily of the field when I show up at my grandfather’s visitation, but God will be judging my heart, and it will be in the right place, whether my outfit is quite the one I’d like or not. 

 

P.S. – this is not a slam on the folks who are trying to make sure they have appropriate clothing.  At all.  This is their way of relieving some of their own stress.  I am all for allowing people to grieve and process the way they need to, especially when that means auto-pilot can kick in and alleviate some stress of having to think about what’s being prepared for.  All I’m saying is: Stressing and Rushing are not how I best serve people.  I drove 8 hours to get here.  I am not spending another 4 hours of my short time here driving to town, picking out an appropriate outfit, and driving back from town.  I don’t need any more clothes because my heart is adorned well enough.

P.S.S. – God was gracious to me, and ON ACCIDENT, I happened to pick up one extra shirt that will go quite nicely with the nice slacks that I brought.  I thought about putting it back down when I saw I had carried it out of the bedroom, but I just didn’t have strength enough to go back into my bedroom and stare at more clothes, feeling helpless and confused about what and how much to bring.

Day Sixty-Three: Reflections on Week Nine

Admittedly, it’s been longer than 9 weeks since I started writing out these devotionals.  Life happens and things like quiet time and bible study, far too often, get pushed to the side.  One would think that I’d have figured out that self-preservation doesn’t work if I’m not actually taking care to preserve myself by way of keeping my sanity a priority, but…….

So, anyway.  Here we are at Week 9.  I’m wrapping up the third of my 4 intensives.  This one has dealt with group counseling.  And ya know, you just can’t get a feel for what counseling is going to be like until you do it – both the participation and the facilitation – and this week, I’ve done both.

What I’ve come away with has been pretty remarkable.

Before I begin with the reflection part, let me give some background.  I have actually been enrolled in this class before.  Last summer.  However, when I signed up, the person on the other end of the phone did not tell me that a month would be enough time to get all the work done IF I was trying to take another intensive as well – which I was.  So, after 3 weeks of trying to bust my tail to get all the work done, I decided that I needed to withdraw from both of the courses.  I believe this was the Sovereign Hand of God leading this decision.  My husband had just been sent away and the kids and I had just moved to our new residence.  I was trying to unpack and wrap up work for 3 other classes I was taking.  I was overwhelmed, stressed, emotional and – pretty much – just running on autopilot.  All I was trying to do was push through to get the work done.  I wasn’t really learning it.  And my wounds were still so fresh that, had I come to the class last summer, I would not have been able to participate the way that I have this year.  Everything would’ve been about me, and I would’ve brought the group atmosphere WAAAAAY down.

Now, for what I’ve learned.   We just cannot go through life on our own. This is not really a new revelation.  It’s something I’ve heard many times before.  But what I realized this past week is that there is a life the group develops that is uniquely its own.  Learning that – seeing it first hand – and pairing it with the knowledge that we have been designed to be in relationships, adds an element to group counseling that makes it very different from individual counseling.  It’s a very rewarding experience, and I am thankful NOW that Liberty has required these intensives as part of their degree completion plans.  My education would not have been complete without them.

But, what if we take this lesson beyond the scope of my classes and counseling.  What if we extend it to the real world and how we do life here on this earth.

What if we were intentional about our relationships?  What if we sought to be the best version of ourselves in all of our relationships instead of just letting things happen with whomever may cross out paths?  What would our lives be like if we really prioritized the most important relationships in our lives?  What might that look like?  How would our relationships with our spouses, our children, our parents, our friends change?

What if we started by prioritizing our relationships with The Lord first?

What if we took the command to love him with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength seriously?  Is it possible that the whole “loving our neighbors as ourselves” might be just a little easier?  And even if it wasn’t, wouldn’t it make choosing to stick with those relationships a little easier?  Because, then, we’d be staying for a different reason!

One thing we’d learn really quickly is just how much we truly value life.  We’d see just how seriously we take the notion that ALL MEN are created in the image of God.  You.  Me.  The homeless guy on the street.  The sex offender.  The terrorist.  Yeah!  All those folks!  I am no better than my fellow man.  BUT…by that same token, I am also no worse.  And comparing myself to any standard other than that of Christ is holding myself up to a faulty measure, and I will come away with a warped sense of my own worth and yours.

I think I could probably go on, but I am going to try to put into practice some wise words I read earlier today:

Once you’ve made your point, stop talking.