Don’t Run Just Obey

 

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We often think that we have the perfect plan for our lives. Perfection meaning being comfortable. We are comfortable with where we are. When we become comfortable the last thing that we want is to have someone rock the boat. We like it where we are and we do not want to move. In fact when prompted to move we become agitated because we have no desire to move. We are comfortable with where things are. Satisfied. We want to do things our way. This typically is the time when God decides that he wants to use us.

We’ll listen to what He has to say, but often we choose another option. The option where we can stay comfortable and not have to change or give everything up. We run. Maybe not physically but we turn our back on what we are supposed to be doing. We become like the prophet Jonah. Jonah was told by God to go to Nineveh and Jonah refused. Like Jonah, running for a bit may seem like a good option. We get it in our heads that we can do it on our own. We get the idea that we don’t need God in our life.

But eventually something happens where we realize that we need him. Sometimes we turn to God right on time and other times it may be too late. Jonah was swallowed by the large fish- a time out.

A time out is a type of punishment that we equate to giving a toddler. When we choose to go our own way, often God will put us in a time out. A place you don’t necessarily want to be but God is placing you in until He decides you are ready to come out. It could be a financial crisis, a sick family member or a missed promotion at work. It is usually at this time where we realize that we should have listened. We realize that we could not have done it on our own even though we thought we could have. We decide that it’s time to get right and God is generous enough to give us a second change.

Once we have been given the second chance, unlike last time, we jump at the opportunity. We, like Jonah, set ourselves on the path that God had originally set for us.  This time we don’t try to run but instead we go wholeheartedly, excited to follow whatever path God has ordained for us to follow.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jonah+1&version=NIV

 

Peace

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Has anyone ever told you to breathe? Probably. I’ve been told to breathe multiple times, and the moment someone says it – the moment someone even utters the word breathe it’s all I can think about. I’m suddenly conscious of my lungs pumping air. Something that was completely natural has suddenly moved into my consciousness. I feel control over whether or not my body is getting the air necessary for survival, and that control causes me to concentrate harder and harder until – oh look, a puppy. Or maybe not a puppy. Maybe what I’m noticing is that it’s 4:00 and I have to head to work.  Maybe a friend just texted me. Regardless of what that thing is, do you know what happens? I keep breathing. There’s some biological explanation about how breathing is an involuntary reaction, but the point is it is not in my conscious control.  Sure, I can choose to hold my breath, but even then one of two things will happen: I’ll give up or I’ll pass out, and then I’ll start breathing again.

When I think about the relationship between being anxious and having peace, I think about breathing and I think about waiting. I’m waiting right now, on graduate school decisions. In my mind my whole future is at risk, and so I check forums more than once a day for updates. I refresh my email constantly. I practice how I’ll respond to rejections and acceptances, and I have dreams of my computer mailbox lighting up to let me know an answer has arrived. Only in my dream my vision goes blurry, and I can’t see if it’s a rejection or an acceptance.  The fact, though, is that my pressing “refresh” doesn’t actually do anything. The decisions aren’t going to come faster because I logged into my email thirty times today. What I do get out of it is the anxiety of a false sense of control. I can make it happen! Even though now that I’ve done my homework and submitted my apps the process is entirely out of my hands.

In a way, being anxious is tied to controlling things that aren’t ours to dictate and peace comes with the knowledge that we can’t. I think that’s why the instruction for not being anxious is to make your requests known with prayer and petition and thanksgiving. It’s a handover.  Person (that’s me!) with prayer and petition and thanksgiving gives the stressor (that’s grad school results) over to God. The only one who is in control anyway. This is my recognition of my utter inability to do anything in the situation now that all my files have been submitted. He takes it on, like he takes on every sorrow, every pain, every stressful situation that we deal with. And because he’s a God of peace that’s what he leaves us – peace that doesn’t seem to fit the situation.

Like breathing. There are things in life that aren’t aided by our micromanaging of them. They were constructed to work on their own, and they continue to work when we aren’t actively watching over them. But God does. He’s actively watching and moving the pieces in place that need to be moved, and he’s opening and closing doors that need to be closed. Let him work and accept his peace.

Contributor Ebony Taylor

 

Self Control

 

 

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Thank you Ebony for your beautiful post on self-control last week.  This is a fruit of the Spirit that we desperately need operating in our lives daily, so I wanted to add my thoughts.

 

In moments of frustration when we are tempted to speak, self-control is needed. When you are facing a stressful situation, take a moment to pray before you open your mouth. Do not allow yourself to be tempted to act on impulse.  Back away from the situation. I like to “sleep on it.” Things always look different after a good night’s rest.

 

Many of us struggle with self-control daily.  We face challenges dealing with lust and pleasing our flesh.  For some it is a matter of overspending.   We become greedy, searching for things that will satisfy our flesh and bring the contentment we crave.

 

It is important that we exercise self-control over every area of our lives.  We must watch what comes into our heart, mind, and body.  We must be careful about what comes out of our mouths. Think before you speak is a good rule of thumb.  Once we put our words in the atmosphere they cannot be recalled.

 

Allow the Holy Spirit to lead and control every area of your life. We do this by focusing on our Lord.  When we sense anger, frustration, stress, discontentment or anxiety we must turn our attention back to God and to His Word. What does the Word of God say about our attitude and how we should react to others?  Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

 

 

Scripture Source:  http://biblehub.com/niv/proverbs/15.htm

 

Dr. Evelyn Johnson-Taylor

A Letter to My Father

Contributor: Ebony Taylor

Today I’m taking over the blog, and there will be a divergence from your normally scheduled programming. Dr. Taylor will be back tomorrow with a post on self-control, and I definitely recommend that you check it out! However, I wanted to take a moment to talk about Dr. Taylor’s new book which deals with the emotions that a caregiver goes through. It isn’t finished yet, so I haven’t had the pleasure to read it, but as someone who was around to witness (firsthand) the experiences of both of my parents — caregiver and patient — I know that it will be an insightful look into what my mother personally dealt with as a caregiver, but it will also be an authoritative approach in how to face the problems that come with caregiving from a biblical worldview. I’m looking forward to it, and you should be too!

As the child of a caregiver, and the child of a sick parent, I believe that I have something to add to the conversation. Particularly I want to use my moment of blog hijacking to address what I’ve learned about the whole process during the past eight years. I don’t have the space to talk about everything, so I will focus on just one: faithfulness. This is a letter to my father.

Dad,

A memory of you: Our front yard in the house in Maryland was an acre? a half-acre? Whatever it was, it was long, and in the winter when we were wrapped in layers of clothes it was exhausting to climb. I remember once when the snow was high and our sleds wouldn’t really slide, I got bored halfway down and didn’t feel like climbing back up to the house. I was seven, I think.

I remember looking up to where you were at the top of the hill. I don’t know what you were thinking, but you started running towards me. Running because I was standing still in the snow and not walking back up. I wasn’t hurt. I wasn’t even that cold. I just didn’t want to walk. But you ran. That’s what I’m most proud of — that my father always ran towards me. Not once have I been afraid that this wouldn’t be my truth. I’ve always known that if I even looked like I might possibly be just barely hurt you would run.

Thinking about us (you and me, father and daughter), I think it’s easy to focus on the imperfections. I think that, “I complained because I had to eat pizza every day for a week since dad was in the hospital. I shouldn’t have done that.” I probably shouldn’t have, but that’s why this post is about faithfulness. The faithfulness of our mutual father who is the God of the Universe.

These eight years have taught me that his faithfulness will always cover our inadequacies. 2 Timothy 2: 13 says, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.” For me this is a symbol of his grace. I think that other people (you know, the ones on the outside…the ones who aren’t in the know) believe when you have a sick parent that it’s all crying and gratefulness and that you spend each and every moment basking in each other’s presence. We know the secret though. We know that it isn’t like that. Illness doesn’t conquer human nature. We still disagree, we still get annoyed, and we fail to love properly. But we also know the other secret: that God is faithful. And because he is faithful we don’t have to be perfect. Because he is faithful, he covers our failures in his grace.

When we focus on God’s faithfulness, there isn’t a reason to regret, to feel inadequate, to meditate on our failures because nothing we’ve done is of our own strength anyway. One of my favorite scriptures comes from Jeremiah 31:3, where it says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Focus on His faithfulness and His love, and then thank him that you have the best daughters on the planet.

I’ll close with my favorite scripture which is just barely related:

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

 

 

 

Self-Control

 

My first Netflix account was a thirty day free trial. It was bliss. For one month, I was able to consume an unrestricted amount of television. I revisited old Disney movies. And after finishing three Korean dramas, I convinced myself that I was actually learning the language. My favorite feature about Netflix was that I never had to stop. At the end of an episode, my computer would casually start loading the next. At the end of a series, three more would be suggested for me.

As I immersed myself into the world of Netflix, I found myself spending the entire day in pajamas with my laptop on my bed, and only leaving my room to eat and use the bathroom. I convinced myself that I didn’t need to study for a quiz and I already knew what the book was about so I didn’t have to read it. After a week and a half, I was burnt out and miserably behind. I should have stopped watching TV, I told myself. If I had I wouldn’t be so stressed now.
There are plenty of people who have no trouble turning off mind-numbing television shows and getting to work. But probably everyone has had an instance where they lacked self-control. Remember that Lay’s Potato Chip commercials where the challenge was to eat “just one.” For a lot of us, this is our reality. Here’s a video of just one of those commercials:

Proverbs 25:28 reads, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Just like how Messier missed his plane because he couldn’t resist potato chips, we expose ourselves when we cannot restrain our desires. In a commercial, it is humorous. In real life, this is toxic.

My unlimited Netflix consumption only had minor consequences, but the “just one more” mentality had me considering paying for a Netflix subscription on a college student’s budget. A “just one more” mentality can lead the casual shopper to become a compulsive spender. It isn’t something to be taken lightly.
The fact is that a lack of self-control opens us up to temptation, and temptation leads to sin. Pray that God will reveal the areas where you lack self-control, and then pray about fixing those areas in your life. I will too.

 

Contributing Blogger Ebony Taylor