Stories of faith, life, and love

Tag: following Christ

Right Stuff Wednesday: The Places You’ll Go

pillow“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” – Dr. Seuss – Oh, the Places You’ll Go

Do you have a car pillow? We do. We didn’t until my youngest son (who is a teenager by the way) decided the drive to school was the perfect opportunity to catch a few more minutes of sleep since seven o’clock is terribly early to wake up. Even waking him at seven is a process. He has to be woken up at least three times before he stumbles out of bed, dresses, brushes his teeth, and falls back into bed until it’s time to head out the door.

I have a feeling the culprit in this situation is late nights. As much as his morning struggle might cause frustration, I’m aware of the old adage “those who live in glass houses should not throw rocks”. Most days, I live in a glass house. My issue may not be sleeping instead of getting ready for work, but there are plenty of times I need a push, or two or three, to accomplish anything in my writing life. I have weeks overflowing with motivation and accomplishment. But there are also weeks I come home from work, make dinner, and follow that up with making excuses. I’m tired. I can’t think. I just want some quiet time without having to do anything.

My bad weeks are really bad. And writing is something I want to do, something I enjoy. Monday’s excuses become Tuesday’s excuses become Wednesday’s excuses until a new habit has formed. I find myself wanting to write but not enough to get the job done. Eventually, like the third call for my son to get out of bed, something shakes me out of my apathy. Deadlines, inspiration, or encouragement re-awaken my motivation. I turn on my lap top, and the words flow until the next bad week.

I wish I could say writing was the only area of my life where I need the occasional push. I can’t even say writing and housework are the only areas. And believe me, I need a hefty push in the housework department! No, as much as I hate to admit it, my spiritual life takes a hit every now and then when apathy comes calling.

Sometimes the deficit is found in my prayer life or time in God’s word. I know I have a relationship with God. And I know relationships are built by time spent together. I know prayer and scripture are two of the best ways to spend time with God. That, along with strengthening us for the spiritual battles we face, are why scriptures tell us to pray continually and to hide God’s word in our hearts. But sometimes I let other things get in the way. Even though I want to be close to God and strong in my relationship with Him, I choose other things and let time with Him go. Soon, I’ve developed a new pattern that is hard to re-write.

Other times I need a nudge to do what God has asked me to do. Whether it’s doing something kind and unexpected for a friend in need or giving to the beggar on the street corner or taking an uncomfortable step in the direction of the ministry God has placed on my heart, I feel God’s gentle nudge showing me what He wants me to do. I feel it. I want to obey, but I don’t want to enough to get out of my comfort zone. I let my fears, doubts, or desire for comfort or control stand in the way of doing what I know God wants me to do. Soon, my world is revolving around me more than it revolves around Him. I’m stuck.

I have brains in my head and feet in my shoes, but I’m not moving anywhere in times like these. I need to realign my focus on the things God says are important. I need to surround myself with those who will encourage me to continue growing and moving forward in my faith. If music or books or radio preachers inspire me to live out my faith daily through obedience and time with God, then I need to keep those things in my life regularly. When apathy tugs at me, I need to see it as the spiritual battle it is and do what I can to fight the lack of motivation. Only then can God move me in whatever direction He chooses, and that is the direction I want to go in.

Right Stuff Wednesday: The Places You'll Go

pillow“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” – Dr. Seuss – Oh, the Places You’ll Go
Do you have a car pillow? We do. We didn’t until my youngest son (who is a teenager by the way) decided the drive to school was the perfect opportunity to catch a few more minutes of sleep since seven o’clock is terribly early to wake up. Even waking him at seven is a process. He has to be woken up at least three times before he stumbles out of bed, dresses, brushes his teeth, and falls back into bed until it’s time to head out the door.
I have a feeling the culprit in this situation is late nights. As much as his morning struggle might cause frustration, I’m aware of the old adage “those who live in glass houses should not throw rocks”. Most days, I live in a glass house. My issue may not be sleeping instead of getting ready for work, but there are plenty of times I need a push, or two or three, to accomplish anything in my writing life. I have weeks overflowing with motivation and accomplishment. But there are also weeks I come home from work, make dinner, and follow that up with making excuses. I’m tired. I can’t think. I just want some quiet time without having to do anything.
My bad weeks are really bad. And writing is something I want to do, something I enjoy. Monday’s excuses become Tuesday’s excuses become Wednesday’s excuses until a new habit has formed. I find myself wanting to write but not enough to get the job done. Eventually, like the third call for my son to get out of bed, something shakes me out of my apathy. Deadlines, inspiration, or encouragement re-awaken my motivation. I turn on my lap top, and the words flow until the next bad week.
I wish I could say writing was the only area of my life where I need the occasional push. I can’t even say writing and housework are the only areas. And believe me, I need a hefty push in the housework department! No, as much as I hate to admit it, my spiritual life takes a hit every now and then when apathy comes calling.
Sometimes the deficit is found in my prayer life or time in God’s word. I know I have a relationship with God. And I know relationships are built by time spent together. I know prayer and scripture are two of the best ways to spend time with God. That, along with strengthening us for the spiritual battles we face, are why scriptures tell us to pray continually and to hide God’s word in our hearts. But sometimes I let other things get in the way. Even though I want to be close to God and strong in my relationship with Him, I choose other things and let time with Him go. Soon, I’ve developed a new pattern that is hard to re-write.
Other times I need a nudge to do what God has asked me to do. Whether it’s doing something kind and unexpected for a friend in need or giving to the beggar on the street corner or taking an uncomfortable step in the direction of the ministry God has placed on my heart, I feel God’s gentle nudge showing me what He wants me to do. I feel it. I want to obey, but I don’t want to enough to get out of my comfort zone. I let my fears, doubts, or desire for comfort or control stand in the way of doing what I know God wants me to do. Soon, my world is revolving around me more than it revolves around Him. I’m stuck.
I have brains in my head and feet in my shoes, but I’m not moving anywhere in times like these. I need to realign my focus on the things God says are important. I need to surround myself with those who will encourage me to continue growing and moving forward in my faith. If music or books or radio preachers inspire me to live out my faith daily through obedience and time with God, then I need to keep those things in my life regularly. When apathy tugs at me, I need to see it as the spiritual battle it is and do what I can to fight the lack of motivation. Only then can God move me in whatever direction He chooses, and that is the direction I want to go in.

Write Stuff Wednesday – Writers Write

“This is how you do it: You sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy and that hard.” – Neil Gaiman

There are days when writing comes easily. I’m perfectly rested. Focus is my middle name. I have nothing pressuring me for my attention other than my work in progress. My time is my own, and I make use of it. The words flow, and the story comes as naturally as breathing. Those days are like a perfectly wrapped Christmas present opened to find an equally perfectly picked item inside the paper.

Then come the days when you open the gift and realize the giver merely wrapped something, anything in order to have a gift. You were an afterthought worked in at the last minute. It’s a box of chocolates for the one who everyone knows has been dieting for a month or an iTunes gift card for the person who has an Android phone. Those are the times when no matter what you do, the story doesn’t want to flow from your brain through your fingertips and onto the screen. Your amazing story idea stalls in the middle of the telling. You write, but it simply doesn’t feel right. Doubts creep in. Maybe you don’t have another story in you after all.

Good days or bad, a writer does one thing. They write. Even when it feels bad. Even when it is bad. They write. We write. We bask in warmth of the days when it’s that easy. We fight our way through the difficult days knowing that there is no mistake that cannot be edited out. We continue in hopes that the sun of successful days will soon shine on us again. Through good and bad we keep writing  and growing stronger through the journey. We do it because we are writers.

It’s this same attitude we need to bring into living our faith each day. How do we be Christians? We get out there every day and live like Jesus lived. It’s as easy and as hard as that. We’ve been given the instruction manual and the perfect example in Jesus. Some days godly love flows easily through our actions. Our priorities are ordered by God’s word. Keeping God’s commands don’t seem like a burden at all.

Then come the days when we just can’t seem to rein in our thoughts or control our attitudes. We are in a funk, and it shows. The difficult people push our buttons, and the last thing we feel like doing it loving them with the love of God. We realize selfishness, discontent, anger, deceit, or pride has taken root in our hearts. We want to do good, but we find ourselves giving in to temptation. We feel like failures of the faith.

But good or bad, we don’t give up. We keep coming to God in repentance for our failures. We turn back to Him and find not only forgiveness but also strength for the next battle. We bask in the good days, not because we’re so great but in praise of the One who gave that day to us. We glean lessons from the bad days, and we find our faith stronger because of it. We do it because that’s what believers do. We are followers of Jesus, and to be that we must keep following.

Write Stuff Wednesday 9

hope“A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, or because everything she does is golden. A writer is a writer because, even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.” Junot Diaz

Some days the words won’t come. It’s not a matter of them being hard to write or not being good enough. There are days I sit at the computer, and I can’t move forward in the scene I’m writing. My brain is too tired. My day has been too long. A whirlpool of thoughts unrelated to my writing spins in my brain until I’m seasick on dry land.

I’ve read that taking a brisk walk can help your brain think in different ways and wake it up a bit. I try that sometimes, if it’s cool enough outside. I’ve tried changing scenery. I usually write in my living room sitting on my couch. But if it’s nice enough, I’ll sit on my back deck with my computer and write. I write to music most of the time. So, I even try switching up the playlist from time to time.

There are occasions when these tricks work well, and I can continue on my merry way. My writing time is salvaged, and I accomplish my goals for the day. Other days, nothing helps. But, and I know this may come as a surprise, being a writer means writing. Each day I fail to pick up my pen or turn on my laptop, I fail to be a writer.

But nothing says I have to write the same thing every day. Nothing says what I write has to be grammatically correct, interesting, or written on my current project. There are days my writing consists of journaling my prayer to God. Some days my writing is a short story or even a paragraph unrelated to anything. These I file away as starting points for future projects. The point is not that I’ve moved forward on my current project, but instead that I have taken the time to write. In doing so, I have kept the discipline that will lead me back to my current project. So, while I may not have hope for that day’s writings, I retain it for tomorrow and the day after that. I have written, and that is what it takes to be a writer.

When I look at my life recently, there have been several “no hope” moments. There are scars from the past that interfere with the present. There are things weighing heavily on my heart that don’t seem to be changing no matter how much I bring them to God. There are frustrations over situations that never seem to change and desires that have gone unrealized yet remain part of the fabric of who I am. These are the things that left uncheck will haunt us, distract us, and discourage us.

Christians are not immune to these feelings. In fact, and this is just my opinion, when these things sink their claws in I think they’re probably more problematic in the life of Christians because we see how things would be working if sin hadn’t messed everything up. It’s the devil’s way of trying to hinder the work of God. If we’re haunted, distracted, and discouraged we won’t have the focus to do what God wants or live the way He wants us to. And that’s on the mild end of things. At their worst, those times tug on a young believer’s roots of faith. Sometimes, it pulls them up completely.

When we let these things sideline us, we are forgetting some important things. The quote above could be re-written for believers.   A Christian is a Christian not because she lives it well or easily, because she has amazing faith, or because everything she does is exactly what God wants her to do. A Christian is a Christian because, even when it feels as if there is no hope, even when prayer, fasting, and scripture reading don’t seem to hold any promise for changing things, you keep following Christ anyway.

We don’t follow Christ because it’s easy, and we don’t follow Him because of what He’s going to do for us. The Bible never promises our lives will be sunshine and puppies. In fact, it says we will face troubles. We will be confronted with situations or ideas that make it easy to doubt. We will face hurts that seem insurmountable. And even though we don’t want to, we will fail in our fight against temptation. But one of the changes in this new quote changes everything for the believer. It’s the part that says “feels there is no hope”.

No matter how dark things get, there is always hope for the believer. Hope is more than a wish. It is braided together with our faith. You can’t have faith without hope because faith is the evidence of things hoped for. You can’t have hope without faith because our hope brings us to faith. Hope is a powerful thing in our lives, and when it takes a beating our spirits do too.

But we have to hope in the right things. We can pray for our circumstances to change, but they may not. Our hope is not in the immediate removal of whatever circumstance has us tied in knots. It’s in the promises of God. He is with us. He loves us with an everlasting love. He forgives our sin, all our sin. We have a future in heaven with Him where everything will run the way it was meant to in the first place. He wants to use the bad stuff in our lives to make us more like Him and to help us minister to others. He offers us comfort and peace. These are just the beginning of the list of promises found in scripture. God and His promises are where we put our hope. And when our hope is in the right things, we have the way to fight the circumstances that threaten our faith. We become Christians who are Christians because no matter what we will keep following Christ.

By the Book: What have you placed your hope in?

© 2020 Heather Greer

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