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‘Bad Day’? It’s a Matter of Perspective.

24 Sep

I’m always surprised by how people define “bad day.” For many, a “bad day” is when:

  • You can’t find earrings at Charming Charlie’s to match your dress for caution-baddayinprogress_lolwithgod_dawnwilsona birthday party. (This almost never happens because that store is amazing!)
  • You break a fingernail, right after getting a professional manicure.
  • You can’t find a parking space a few paces away from Home Depot’s front door.
  • You discover someone ate the last chocolate chip cookie in the bag … which you carefully hid.

Really?

OK. This isn’t going to be an especially lighthearted post. But I thought about this topic after I got upset looking for that aforementioned parking space. God really spoke to my heart that day. Broke it, actually.

THESE are the kinds of real-life “bad day” issues that lead to REAL frustration or fear:

  • You can’t find your child at the mall for more than 60 minutes.
  • Your husband loses his job. Again.
  • Your cancer returns. With a vengeance.
  • Your home is burglarized, your house ransacked and you discover many treasures are missing.

And then there are “bad days” most of us will never have to face.

  • Total rejection: A woman who cannot find a job because no one in her village will hire a “Christ-follower.”
  • Horrific persecution: A pastor whose leg is broken during torture in Laos because he dared to preach the gospel.
  • Unspeakable pain: A mother who weeps because her daughter was raped because the family converted to Christianity.

A bad day is a matter of perspective, isn’t it?

There’s simply no comparison between the first group and the last.

We can view the circumstances in our lives in multiple ways, and how we view them affects how we feel and respond.

One of the best ways to view circumstances—especially the tough ones (because really, with the absurd ones we just need to grow up!)—is through the lenses of trust and gratitude.

Trust when you feel abandoned? Gratitude when a crisis comes?

Stay with me here ….

There is great power in trusting God; and there is great transformation in a thankful heart.

For the Christian, there may be many bad days, even awful-horrible days; but there is more to life than even these circumstances. In the midst of great upheaval and struggle:

  • We can trust the Lord when we are afraid, and be grateful that most of the things we most fear never even happen.
  • We can trust the Lord for what we don’t understand, with gratitude that He is never perplexed and always has a plan.
  • We can trust the Lord with an uncertain future, gratefully acknowledging He will be in our future as assuredly as He has in the past.
  • We can trust the Lord to care for us, grateful for His endless resources and loving supply.
  • And we can trust the Lord when life falls apart—when we suffer incredible loss or pain—still grateful He is sovereign and will yet accomplish His will in, for and through us.

Granted, this is easier said than done. But daily practice is good heart preparation.

When we practice trust and gratitude in the simple, everyday circumstances of our lives, these habits will strengthen us when the bigger challenges and unexpected trials come.

In wisdom, we exercise our trust and gratitude “muscles,” and God (because He cares about us) wants to help us with that. As Matthew Henry wrote,*

Christianity teaches men to be joyful under troubles: such exercises are sent from God’s love….”

Believe me. I am not taking on this topic lightly.

I love and pray for The Persecuted Church and have found both conviction and great strength in the stories of God’s struggling children around the world. These believers “count it all joy” when they face trials of various kinds (James 1:2-8). Many rejoice and even celebrate, knowing God is working and they will receive great reward for any sufferings they face (Matthew 5:12; Romans 5:3; James 1:12).

How can they do this? They’ve counted the cost of following Christ and partaking in HIS sufferings (Luke 14:25-33; 1 Peter 4:13-16). They’ve  found God’s grace sufficient and strengthening in their greatest times of need (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

When asked how we can pray for them, members of The Persecuted Church usually do not ask people to pray their burdens will be lightened, but rather that they will be wise to make good use of their afflictions—especially to be a strong witness to those who observe how they are suffering for Christ.

In cushy America, our concept of suffering for the Lord is so skewed. We’re constantly praying for “safety,” but not for opportunities to share Christ. Amy Carmichael wrote, “We must learn to pray far more for spiritual victory than for protection from battle wounds.”

So convicting. Especially when I lament over a broken fingernail or empty cookie bag.

It puts our petty “bad days” to shame, doesn’t it?

Are you having a bad day today? How might more trust in the Lord coupled with the practice of gratitude help your perspective … and ultimately, your responses?

 – Dawn

 * Matthew Henry, Commentary on James 1:1-22.

 

 

 

 

 

More than Beautiful Dust

27 Aug

PigsWallow_PigForumI saw a picture of two pigs (a hog and a sow) in a mudhole.

The hog, with an exasperated expression, turned to the sow and said, “I think I’m having a mud-life crisis.”

In another picture, a huge Daddy hog placed his piggy arm around one of his piglets and pointed to a mudhole.

“Son,” Daddy Hog said with obvious pride, “In a few years, this will all be yours.”

Dr. David Jeremiah tells the story of a conversation between an atheist and God. The atheist challenged God, saying, “I can make a man, just like you say you did.”

“Ok,” says God. “Go for it.”

The atheist thought and said, “OK, first we’ll need some dirt.” 

And God said, “OK … but get your own dirt.” 

LOL!

Now this is going to feel like an odd transition, but stick with me. It’s all about dirt, mud and more.

Psalm 103 is an incredible testimony to the wonders of God’s mercy and grace. God loves His children, forgives their sins, and cares for those who fear Him with great compassion. It is God’s steadfast, eternal love, David said, that continues to sustain and blesses us.

But it was verse 14 that recently spoke to me in a deeper way:

“For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (ESV).

Dust.

In The Message, that verse reads this way:

“He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.”

Mud.

It was hard enough to read that I am dust … but MUD!

God does not forget what we are made of. He remembers He formed us from the dust, dirt and mud of earth (Genesis 2:7; 3:19). He remembers why He shows us such pity, such amazing mercy and grace.

Even the strongest of us have frail bodies, souls and minds compared to His matchless wonder. He understands our misery. God knows we are subject to decay, that we will be buried in the earth from whence we came.

Were it not for God’s great mercy, we would all be destroyed under the wrath we so completely deserve, for there is not one soul who seeks after God (Romans 3:11) without His touch from heaven.

And in His compassion He brings strength to our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

During our short time here on earth, as Christ-followers, we are being transformed.

I had a funny thought today. Yes, we are still dust, but …

As we are sanctified (made holy) with the truth of the Word and the Spirit as our tutor, we are becoming beautiful dust.

And we are destined to be MORE than beautiful dust!

We are becoming like Jesus, and in the final resurrection, our bodies will be changed. Glorified! Just as Jesus, in his resurrected body, retained the scars from His crucifixion (John 20:25, 27), even so our recognizable bodies will be resurrected.

We will receive transformed, “glorified” bodies like His (Philippians 3:20-21).  Our ‘perishable” body will be raised “imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:42, 51-52).

I sometimes forget I am destined for heaven, that I should live for eternity. I know I’m not alone in this forgetfulness. As the poet and author Carl Sandburg wrote (and not even in a theological sense):

“There’s an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.”*

Ouch, right?

God wants me to mount up with wings as an eagle (Isaiah 40:31), but I keep sloshing around in the mud. I forget where I’m heading. But I rejoice God does not.

While I live on earth, I am the recipient of His incredible mercy, forgiveness and grace. And I am thankful this sinful, decaying body will be changed in eternity.

I am destined to be far more than beautiful dust.

 – (Note from Dawn: I know I have changed the imagery several times in this post. One minute I am mud; the next I’m sloshing around in mud. But I hope something, somewhere in this rambling spoke to your heart and encouraged you to live for the Lord today.)

 – *http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/mud.html

Graphic: Pigforum.com/Why-Wallow.html

 

Cutting Out the ‘Pork’ in My Life

26 Apr

I have to admit it. I live in California, but I sat in a Southern-style porkulescent stupor one Saturday afternoon, watching several segments of the hit series “BBQ Pitmasters.” On each show, three “grillmasters” competed for the opportunity to go on to win $50,000 as Pitmasters Grand Champion in the finale.

The result of my lazy afternoon? The power of suggestion was so strong, my hubby and I ended up at Phil’s BBQ for dinner!

Beyond the competition, one of the things that intrigues me are some of the names of BBQ teams. Here are a few (of the nicer ones) I can mention, along CutThePork_LOLwith some BBQ restaurant names:

  • Piglicious
  • American Piggers
  • Heavenly Hawgs
  • Dixie Pigs
  • Pig Pickins of America
  • Barbecutie
  • Pork Palace
  • Church of Swinetology
  • Pork-O-Holics
  • Smoked Encounters of the Third Swine
  • Bubba’s Barbeque and Sushi Bar (This restaurant in Alabama apparently didn’t make it. Can’t imagine why.)
  • And my favorite …. Aporkalypse Now

I recently heard a Republican say on television, “We need to cut the pork in Washington.” He wasn’t suggesting we get ready for a barbecue.

To “cut the pork” is to chop out government money spent on projects meant to help officials political careers — to give them political advantage in some way. I totally agree with that.

But this blog isn’t supposed to be about political statements. It’s a devotional. So …

Let me just say this. I think we need to “cut the pork,” spiritually. I know I do.

I don’t know about you, but I think I spend wa-a-a-a-ay too much time thinking about things that will improve my appearance, help my latest cause, or make me more acceptable to or popular with my friends. It’s all about self.

Self-image. Self-absorption. Self-gratification. Self-promotion.

If I cut the pork, spiritually, it means I need to get back to what is important. To spend my life — my time, talents and treasures — on things that really matter.

Not on the self stuff, but on stuff that really matters.

What really matters?

In other words, cutting the pork, spiritually, means getting back to the basics.

It involves courage, not allowing the pressures of the world to conform me to its mold. It means using discernment, because others (even well-meaning Christians) may suggest priorities and “opportunities” that God has not planned for me. It includes intentionality, spending my life wisely, purposefully, biblically.

Does this resonate with you? Do you need to cut the pork too, and get back to what God originally called you to do?

 

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