Flitting

25 Jul

AttentionSpanI don’t have a short attention span, I just … Oh look, a butterfly!

I don’t have a short attention span, I just … O look, a squirrel!

I don’t have a short attention span, I just … O look, chocolate!

I don’t have a short attention span, I just … O look, bling!

I don’t have a short attention span, I just … Did you SEE THAT?

LOL!

I love hummingbirds, and they’ve nested in my back yard. One built her nest in my eight-foot palm tree.  A couple of them fight over the bird feeder.

But what I get a “kick” out of most is when the mama bird  hovers right in front of me, staring HummingbirdNesting_2croppedinto my face. The focused attention is simply awesome, and I’m always a bit sad when she flits away into the high trees. I  talk to her and keep wishing she’d linger longer. But no … her attention span is, well, like a hummingbird – short and sweet.

One day, after one of these short encounters, I had the thought:  “Dawn, is your God-attention span growing, or do you flit in and out of time with the Lord, distracted by other things?

Maybe you know what I’m referring to. Have you ever been deeply involved in Bible study or prayer, only to be distracted by something else? Have you left time with God for something more “pressing” at the moment? Or just something that captured your imagination?

Sad to say, I have.

It’s like talking face-to-face with someone, and then your cell phone rings, and you turn away to chat on the phone. (If you feel it’s important, you might say, “Excuse me, I have to take this” before you turn away.) But most of the time, it can wait.

And if you had eyes in the back of your head, you might see the person with a “Who am I – chopped liver?” look. Rude.

Only, when we’re alone with the Creator of the Universe, is anything else really all that important?

Short of a fire in the house or a choking baby – those sorts of emergencies – most things can wait when God is speaking to us, don’t you think?

Some things have helped me not flit around when I’m with God.

  • After I ask God to help me focus, I ask Him to help me pinpoint any possible distractions I might face, and I try to deal with them ahead of time.
  • I prepare for my time with God. I turn off disruptive technology (phone, TV, magazines, etc.) – anything I think might distract or disturb.
  • I find a place where I won’t be disturbed (Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16). (Ladies, that’s hard with a little one, I know, unless it’s nap time … and then you feel like a nap.) I have a regular place, stocked with all I’ll need so I don’t have to get up and down for things.
  • I make sure I have paper and pen to jot down a reminder note when I’m “distracted” by something I do need to remember. Then it’s immediately back to the Lord with a “What was that You were saying, Lord?”
  • I practice stillness. I am retraining my brain to focus and “be still” before God (Psalm 46:10). (It’s hard work, because I have one of those Type A+, crazy-monkeys-running-around brains!)
  • I pursue God. (I’ve found that what I pursue – hunt for with intensity – will capture my attention!) Psalm 27:8 – “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
  • I also have a plan, so I don’t just flit around from verse to verse. There are specific things I want to accomplish. I use a Bible study, a book with scriptures and questions, or a study I create on my own – researching a topic.
  • I find when I pray aloud, it’s easier for me to focus. (One way to drown-out my chattering monkeys!)
  • Besides my own flitting flesh, the enemy wants to destroy my times of intimacy with God, so I ask the Holy Spirit to help me persevere in His grace. I need a lot of grace. My spirit is willing, but my body (my brain) is weak (Matthew 26:36-41). The Lord who created my brain can also control it, but I need to ask for and rely on His help.
  • I praise God for the times I do spend with Him. (Beating myself up doesn’t help.)

I’m sure there are so many other ways to grow in our “God-attention Span.” What helps you not “flit” in and out of God’s presence during your Quiet Time?

- Dawn

When We Don’t ‘Get It’

12 Jul

Some things in life are pretty obvious.WatchOnNightstand

I once told my husband, “I’d be a lot taller if my legs were longer.” He stared at me with that “Well, duh” look. And it took me a minute to understand his response.

Sort of like when I asked him, “Does a watch still run if you’re not wearing it?” (I’m afraid I have a track record of duh-type statements.)

I remember that old Steve Martin humor: “A day without sunshine is like, you know … night.” Uh-huh.

Or Ronald Reagan’s quip: “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.

Again, stating the obvious.

But that still doesn’t mean we get the implications of the obvious. And in some cases, a fresh understanding of the obvious can lead to a change of perspective.

I recently heard a pastor say, “Satan’s driving motive is to be worshiped.”

My first thought about that was, “How can Satan be so foolish? Doesn’t he get it that he is just a creature, not the Creator?” My next thought was – and I’m not sure whether the words came from my brain or the Spirit of God – “How like you.”

Huh? I’m foolish … like Satan? How so? Because …

God is God and I’m not. But sometimes I don’t act like I get that. Worse, I don’t want to.

Sometimes I argue with God about what He’s doing. I think I have a better plan. Or I get mad over what He allows … or what He won’t address or solve.

Romans 9:20 reminds us that we have no right to talk back to God. (We see that same concept in Isaiah 29:16; 64:8). It’s not for us to question our Creator’s decisions – why He made us the way He did or what He does in our lives.

QuestioningGodOh, we can ask tough “why” questions. The Patriarch Job did (Job 3:11-12, 16). But that’s not the same as “questioning” God as to His control in our lives.

God had some questions of His own. He reminded Job that He alone is God (38:4-13; 39:1-2), and the old saint acknowledged God’s sovereignty. The Lord has the right to do as He pleases with His own creation. He doesn’t have to give account to us (Job 33:13). And we certainly aren’t to instruct God in what He should do (Job 40:2, 5, 8)!

Christians know that God’s love and goodness are threads that weave throughout His children’s circumstances, and His ultimate goal is for their good as well as His own glory.

But there’s something else at work in this “God is God and I’m not” idea.

I may not say I want to be worshiped (which was Satan’s attitude, see Isaiah 14:12-14), but I sometimes live like I’m “all that” and deserve others’ attention. Sometimes my pride and a desire to be recognized and served swell up and control me.

In that, I’m much like the enemy. In that, idol-worship is still very much alive. I bow and worship at the idol of self, and I want others to bow as well. It’s all about me-Me-ME!

The truth is, we were not created to bring glory to ourselves, but to the One who created us for His purposes (Colossians 3:17). We live to obey His will (James 4:14-15). I’m stating the obvious, right?

Lord, help me live what I know is true.

Is this a struggle for you too? How do you remember that God is God and you are not?

- Dawn

Incongruous

5 Jul

Back in the 70s, my boys watched Sesame Street, and we’d sing this song: “One of these things is not like the others, One of these things just doesn’t belong….” They learned early on to recognize incongruous things.SandSnowman_HoHoAloha

You’ve probably seen some incongruous things in life.

One of my favorite “incongruous” sightings is a sand snowman on the beach.  We certainly don’t expect to see a “snowman” there! Vacationers in beautiful Hawaii, Aruba and other tropical isles get creative building and decorating these sand snowmen in December.

[A side note ... Jenn, a dear woman who still grieves the loss of a little baby, Noah, built a happy little snowman on vacation some time later. She allowed me to adapt it for this photo.]

Some other incongruous things:

A pig wearing lipstick (made famous by Sarah Palin) … a baseball player pitching an avocado … a cake mix box in the middle of a row of cookbooks … a kitty in a lineup of Meerkats … a very loud belch at a formal dinner….

You get the idea.

Congruous means “what is suitable or proper.” It’s things that make sense together. When something is incongruous, we might say it is “not in harmony or keeping with the surroundings” or other aspects of something.

Incongruity is a key element in good humor, but it’s not such a good thing in life.

I was thinking of the word “incongruous” as I read some familiar scriptures.

Romans 6:2 says, “… How can we who died to sin still live in it?” This entire chapter reminds the believer that we no longer need to obey our passions and impulses to sin. We are to consider ourselves “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (v. 11).

It was incongruous to Paul that a Christian should “continue in sin that grace may abound” (v. 1),  present their bodies to unrighteousness (v. 13) or live as slaves to sin (vv. 17-18).

Yes, there is an ongoing struggle with the presence of sin (Romans 7:15-23), but the power of sin over us is broken (v. 25) because Christ has redeemed us. We have life in the Spirit (Romans 8:1-11) and are heirs with Christ (8:12-17).

Our reality is, we are headed for glory with Him (8:18). We are “conquerors (overcomers) through him who loved us” (8:37) and will never be separated from God’s love in Christ (8:38-39).

I’m grieved by Christians’ light-hearted attitude toward sin today.  I grieve that I accept my own sinning so easily. I forget I’m a foot-soldier in the Lord’s army, obliged to obey His every command.

We need to remember the battle we’re in. We need to:

  1. Take Up Our Armor (put on every piece, Ephesians 6:11-13);
  2. Endure Hardship and strive to please our Commander-in-Chief, Jesus! (2 Timothy 2:3-4, 9-10; Matthew 16:24);
  3. Fight the Good Fight (1 Timothy 1:18-19; 6:12), proclaim the truth of God’s Word and living for Him – no matter how difficult;
  4. And Stand firm against the attacks of Satan (1 Peter 5:8-9; 1 Corinthians 10:12; James 4:7; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

The world needs to see Jesus’ life manifested, demonstrated, in our day-to-day circumstances. Too often, all it sees is an incongruous picture – “Sinning Saints.” This should not be.  The Holy One calls us to holiness (1 Peter 1:15-17a; Leviticus 11:44-45).

Yes, I know. We won’t be perfect until we get to heaven. But that’s no excuse to continue in disobedience. We have hundreds of opportunities to decide for God every day, and we need to stay engaged.The battle is the Lord’s, but He expects us not to slink away from the battlefield!

What could be more incongruous than a soldier sitting out the biggest battle of his life, fiddling with lesser things and failing to obey his Commander’s instructions?

You might want to ask, with me: “Father, is my life a picture of incongruous living? Where am I a hypocrite? Where am I not obeying your commands?”

Let’s recommit to taking those four steps to become victorious in Christ!

  – Dawn

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