The first day of the rest of your life…

I had an epiphany yesterday.  Actually, that’s not all that unusual for me, since I regularly find myself learning (or re-learning!) things that I should have already known or perhaps used to know, but suddenly remembered for some strange reason.  So what was my revelation yesterday?

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

Wow, right?  I mean, really, could the “epiphany” have been any more clichéd?  Perhaps not, but it didn’t make it any less weighty for me.

I was standing in the kitchen, putting dishes into the washer and watching the hummingbirds swarm at the feeder when that incredible thought suddenly occurred.  It doesn’t sound any more momentous to you now than it did before, does it?  (grin)

Well, that’s ok.  It was plenty momentous for me.

On Saturday, my husband and I were having lunch together when he stopped to ask me a question:  “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  He followed that little gem up with several others:  “Are you good with where you are in life?  Is there something else you’d like to be doing?  Would you like to take classes or go learn something new?  Are you fulfilled where you are or do you really want to do something different?”  Those questions—and others—created quite the conversation for us then, and I suppose, my mind just hasn’t let them all go yet. (And yes, I do realize how blessed I am to have that man in my life!)

Yes, there are new things I want to learn and, yes, there are other things I want to do, but I’m actually pretty happy with where I am right now.  When I was growing up never in a million years would I have expected to look at my life as it is right now and say that truthfully.  I was one of the lucky ones…the blessed ones.  I had a loving family and I did well in school.  My extended family was large and involved and encouraged me to believe I could do whatever I chose.  Naturally, the plan was to go an conquer the world.  College was a given.  A good career and—after a very long time and in my own timetable, of course—I would marry and have children of my own while continuing to work.  That wasn’t God’s plan, however, so …things are very different now.  Oh, I had most of that.  Right up to the children and continuing to work part. And I’m just fine with that…most days.  (I’m not too fond of the days I have to clean the bathrooms.)

Those are things that I had anticipated in the grander scheme of life, but my thought process yesterday was just a little bit different.  You see, since my husband took his new position back in November of last year, I’ve been living in a bit of a whirlwind.  Each task in front of me came with a much longer line of following tasks and a set of dated timelines to get them all accomplished.

While there is still plenty to do, I suddenly realized that there would be no more overnight guests for awhile, no major events to plan for, no more pressing deadlines–and I was truly standing in the first day of the rest of the way I want to live my life in this place…just for me…just for us…just for God.  What kinds of things would I need to keep doing?  What kinds of things should I begin to change?  What kind of a life do I want to build for myself here?

Sometimes we just go with the flow and we forget that the decisions about how we spend our allotment of days is actually important.  Those moments turn into years and the knowledge of that makes me view them more carefully these days.  In my quest to live out the quiet life described in I Thessalonians 4:11-12, and with Jim Elliott’s admonition to “be all there” resounding in my spirit, I found myself deliberating in a new way yesterday…and today, as well.

How about you?  Are you happy with the life you’ve made for yourself?  If not, what would you change—what WILL you change—to make it more like you desire?  Have you talked with God about it?  (For the best results, do this first!!) Have you discussed it with your closest loved ones to get their input?  If your answer is in the affirmative and you really do like the life you’re living right now, then how will you celebrate that and how can you help others around you to make the kind of life that they’re called to lead, as well?

Whatever your answer, don’t just blow past it.  Give this the thought it deserves and take the time to start being deliberate in your changes and in your current joys.  Share your dreams with those around you.  You may find more good company for your journey than you’d ever believe.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life, too.  What will you do with it?

Lesson #6: “MUST SEE INSIDE!”

(continued from the list of lessons I’m learning in this move.  For the first part, see here:

There’s a sign in the front yard of my Mississippi home right now.  It is attached to a big yellow post and has several pieces of information on it.  It also has a metal plaque at the very bottom which reads, “MUST SEE INSIDE!”

I’ve learned that the sign could apply to all kinds of things…and people.  You never really know what a town, a house, or people are like until you’ve spent some serious time with them.  You need time to see inside a person.  Even then, we can only see what they allow us to see.

God, on the other hand, already knows exactly what each of us is like.  It is the mark of the Creator, this knowing.  Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God…” Oh, how I love that!  God—at OUR beginning, not HIS!—created us in His own image.  What a plan!  What a gift!

Far from being a control freak about it all, however, He chose to allow us our own free will.  That means that we’ve been free to make our own choices…and our own consequences.  It also means that while we were made in His image…we’ve often managed to stray far from His original intent for us.  We’ve chosen the lesser way time and time again over the centuries until we’ve managed to completely confuse what things are good and what things are bad.  The only way to get those two straightened out is to, once again, line up with the image of the Creator God.

He’s made that as simple as He possibly can:  He sent His own Son for us; He left us His Word in Scripture; He has sent us the Holy Spirit for guidance and comfort and intercession—even when we aren’t sure what to ask for anymore.

John 2:25 (ESV) says that Jesus “needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.”  He knew man—and woman!—because He had created us.  He knew then and He knows now exactly what we all need today…and tomorrow…and each and every day until we stand before Him one day in the future.

He sees inside!  He knows everything.  NOTHING is hidden from Him—regardless of what we have tried to hide even from ourselves.  He sees inside.

For some of us, reading that is a comfort.  For others, well…not so much.  If you’re in that last group, there is still hope for you to find comfort in it.  God loves you.  No matter who, where, or how messed up you may think you are.  He loves YOU.  He loves you enough to wade into all the yuck and make a way for you to be clean again.  All you have to do is ask Him to do it.  Believe that He is who He says He is in Scripture and tell Him that you want Him to live inside you so you can live with Him forever.

It’s that simple.  It’s that complicated.  You have to choose.

Oh, yes! One more thing before you move on with your day: God isn’t really that interested in you picking a “religion” to live out in your life.   This isn’t about that at all.  He’s FAR more interested in having a personal relationship with you!  Regardless of your choice, the people around you will make their own.  They will choose their own path and they will know only what you show them.  God, however, will always love you and He will always see inside.

For your weekend…

This week has flown by me…packed with phone calls and emails full of hoops to jump through for the upcoming move, lots of new people and  a big show miles from home, news of uncertainty and of things less than we want them to be…and the goodness of God’s people.apples

God is SO very good to send me glimpses of grace in the midst of chaos and confusion.  People who do their job with joy and are deliberate in their determination to bless others—these are no small gifts from Him!

No matter what your week was like, I am certain that God’s fingerprints of grace were visible where you were, as well.  Did you tell Him “Thank you!” for sending those little gifts of intentional blessing?  Did you stop and tell those He sent to bless you the same thing?  These people who arrive in the nick of time, serve with dignity and a smile, or use their gifts and resources to benefit others–and never ask for more than the opportunity to do so–did you tell them you were grateful for them?

SONY DSCIt’s not too late!  Do it today!  Say it in person, write a note, pin it to a box of candy or a flat of gardening flowers for their yard.  This is your opportunity to be creative in your blessing of others! (My precious #3 blessed me with this gorgeous little quilt some time ago and it never fails to cheer my heart and remind me of just how very blessed I am!)

Be deliberate in your thanksgiving just as God is deliberate in sending you reasons to give it!  Choose to be grateful!  Choose to bless in return—and then pass it along to someone else, as well!  Be grateful and become the reason for someone else’s gratitude! 

It isn’t just the challenge for the weekend…it is the challenge for life.  Join me in this?