Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Full or Empty Life

I have become attentive to the truth that I can fill up my calendar, yet still live an empty life.

What is the full life? Does it have anything to do with our calendars?

I was introduced to the pregnancy calendar when my daughter announced the soon coming arrival of our first Grandlady. I loved reading everyday’s development of the baby. I prayed specifically every day, for baby’s growth and development,for Mom and the new family.

This past Resurrection Sunday I printed out a new calendar for Grandbaby #6. Every day I look for the growth or changes God is making. I pray for the little person that is being made ready to greet us and the world. I thank God for his/her presence in our family. I give thanks for the favor and grace of being a Grandmother. I enjoy the tremendous joy of life and increase.

We all have come through the days of a pregnancy calendar. Each of us has grown within a womb and made our way to a birth day that began another calendar of counting days, weeks, months and years. Our individual pregnancy calendars are written for us by God, not man. Our purpose and our days of growth are marked on our personal calendar by God’s hand and the ink with which we fill our lives.

God’s hand holds us like the pen and He is poised to write on our calendars, but we have a part to play. We are not just an instrument in His hand. He has given us the privilege of maintaining our lives in surrender to His will. We are the pen. The ink is what we allow to be poured into our lives: friendships, information, experiences, God’s Holy Spirit.

This ink is not only all the outside influences that bombard us, but how we perceive those happenings. The ink is mixed together by our responses. We take in the circumstances of our lives and make them into something positive and usable, or negative and resistant to the full life.

We all know what happens when we cloud the ink with negative thoughts. Our day may become sluggish and thick, not moving smoothly. We even tend to look for the next wrong thing that will happen. It clogs up our minutes and makes our days frustrating. Irritations can make us clam up and become stiff necked to God’s will. We all deal with irritations and our joy is affected by how we perceive those irritations, or how we handle them.

When we search for the gifts within each surrounding moment and give thanks, the ink runs smooth. It does not matter if that moment is complicated or simple. We ourselves make the difference. In each situation we must submit our thinking to the Holy Spirit. We must renew our minds for each circumstance.

We must constantly remind ourselves and each other....to "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." I Thessalonians 5:18 ESV It is this that will keep the ink of our lives flowing smoothly. It is with Thanksgiving that we allow God to make our lives full.

Some of us have lived our days wishing for a different beginning, a different past. Some of us live our present thinking only of the future, of what is next, what will come. We prepare for the next hour or day, or week or year, not thinking of the moment that we inhabit now. Like a kid living only for Christmas to arrive, we can miss the fun of each day leading up to the long awaited day. Living life only looking behind or ahead, leaves our days empty. Our calendars may be full, but our moments are choked by some other time.

Life is lived fully in the everyday moments. We must look carefully in order to see the beauty, grace, and love that surrounds us. Discovering grace right now and choosing to enjoy every moment means we must stop….
take time to name the gift that is given…..
write it down…..
draw it…..
paint it……
play it...
and give thanks for it.

We can run fast toward tomorrow, away from life, trying to get things done for our deadline. It is so easy in our fast paced world to blindly fill our days with doing instead of being.

We can ride along on what we did last week, last year or whenever, and easily coast past life. How often do we as Christians retell our salvation story rather than telling with excitement what God has done for us today? But the here and now moments need to be seen. It needs to be filled with our awareness. There is an abundance of grace, thanksgiving and joy to be experienced in the ordinary moments of our day. There is abundant life in the moment if we only look.

Even in the terrible hard places we can find grace and give thanks and experience joy. It is not easy. Loss, fear, pain, make it difficult to see God, but when we discipline ourselves to make it a priority, we can find God writing a growing, revealing, loving event on the calendar of our life.

So what is a full life? I think a full life is one where we are resting surrendered in God’s hand and pouring out the ink of God’s love that fills us from our gratitude (which is our worship.)

Do our calendars play a part in our full lives? I think so. My New Years practice is to set out goals and plans for my year. I do this in prayer with God. This year He revealed His will for me to live with a blank calendar. I am finding Him to fill it with amazing speed and awesome wonder! No, it has not all been good. There have already been losses and pain. But He has been in every event. I have had to look hard at times, but I have found Him. I have lived fully and abundantly with Him, in Him and for Him in these past 4.5 months.

So what is my plan for the upcoming months? One plan is to visit my Mom in Colorado. I am making the plans but I am holding them loosely in my hands. If God postpones my trip, I choose to believe it will be perfect for my calendar.

As writers we can write about the past or future, but we should write for the present. Whatever we choose to write about it still must be done in the here and now. We can only write from what we know, feel and believe at this present time.

Father, we give You thanks for holding all of our minute and days in Your wise Hands. Forgive us when we mistrust Your goodness in everything. You are I AM. You are here in our present and we do not want to miss You. Open our eyes to see, our ears to hear, our hands to feel the gift of Your presence right now. Teach us to live in Your presence every day. Amen.
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