Looking around my living room, I see a pile of toddler legos, pillows tossed off the couch, a large cardboard box, (excuse me, boat) a stuffed elephant and a pile of crushed Chex cereal.
Nothing here to inspire a spiritual musing.
Or is there?
A few months ago I began thinking about Jesus' ministry. As a young man, just coming into his teen years, Jesus was left behind during a festival - and his parents found him astounding the rabbis and teachers of the temple with his questions and commentary. At that age, it would have been acceptable for him to request to study at the temple. Can you imagine what might have occurred in his ministry if he'd had the support of the teachers and religious leaders?
Instead, he chose to go home with his parents:
So he went back to Nazareth with them, and lived obediently with them. His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself. And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people. (Luke 2:51-52 MSG)
His choice, to go live a normal, blue-collar, everyday, ho-hum kind of life was blessed, favored - both by God and by the people around him.
Another translation reads:
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
(Luke 2:52 KJ21)
All those years, that some might consider 'wasted', God used. Jesus grew taller (stature) and developed wisdom. His actual ministry was about 3 years in length. The bulk of his life he spent just living. Jesus considered everyday life important. So much so, that he chose to live with his parents, working alongside his dad in a blue collar job for the bulk of his life.
I am encouraged by that. As a mom and a wife, sometimes it feels like life is passing me by. The temptation is to look at someone else's life and think - I'm not doing enough, or I'm not doing something important.
In our world today, it's hard to separate the glitz and hype of religious television, shouting preachers, emotional sermons and gut-wrenching worship music from the quiet, everyday living, life-example that Jesus gave us.
In your life today, your normal, washing dishes, making dinner, changing diapers, going to work and getting an oil change for the car-life, you have the opportunity to live like Jesus.
These are the life-skills Jesus decided were so important that he held off ministry to practice and attain.
Today's encouragement? Right where you are, you can be like Jesus.
Waiting for the 'next thing'?
Master the Jesus-skills right where you are first.
As a computer professional turned stay-at-home mom, I struggle with the challenge of transitioning from the regular validation and affirmation I received in the workplace to the 'oh that's just mom' response.
Yesterday is the perfect example. In between two loads of laundry, getting car parts, a play-date for the boy, making dinner and cleaning the bathroom, I sewed a complete set of valances for the kitchen. I was feeling pretty good about myself! Of course, in a house of just men, the tasks that were the most appreciated involved clean socks and turkey on toast.
I see a subtle shift in thought on this within our society regarding stay at home moms as more women are choosing to stay home with their families.
Which means there are more women wondering - 'NOW what am I worth?'
The most challenging part of this transition is retraining my heart to the truth that I am valuable simply because God says so!
(I'm not leaving out you working women, or those of you who aren't moms or married - I believe that you struggle with the same questions, perhaps in a different context? Would love to hear your thoughts on this.)
The bible says that, "... God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." (Romans 5:8 NLT) Before we had accomplished anything, before we brought any value to our world with what we could produce, before we could even acknowledge God, God loved us.
I find it hard to wrap my brain around this: I am valuable accomplishing nothing but simply being the object of God's love.
Today, I invite you to be aware of how you view yourself in comparison to how God views you. Still not sure if you can wrap your brain around it either? Try spending a few minutes reading through the following verses, asking God to show you just how he feels about you.
Isaiah 43:1-7 The Message Bible (emphasis mine)
1 But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
2 When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom;
I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
4 Others were given in exchange for you.
I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me.
You are honored, and I love you.
5 “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
I will gather you and your children from east and west.
6 I will say to the north and south,
‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel
from the distant corners of the earth.
7 Bring all who claim me as their God,
for I have made them for my glory.
It was I who created them.’”
Successful holidays, to my mind, are emerging out the other end of these next six weeks or so feeling relaxed, joyful, peaceful and treasuring good memories.
Rosalyn's Successfully Sane Holiday Strategy:
1. Breathe Peace.
At various points during your day, take a moment to breathe. On each inhale, pray the words of Jesus: "Peace I leave with you," and then on the exhale, the remainder of the words: "...my peace I give to you." (John 14:27 NIV) This is especially soothing at night, when you are trying to calm your mind down to rest.
2. Practice Love.
Inevitably, social situations arise where we are given a choice - do we assume negative or positive intent? When we assume positive intent, we introduce love into the equation. Imagine how different our holiday interactions would look if each of us chose to approach each person with love:
Love cares more for others than for self.
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best...
1 Corinthians 13: excerpts from verses 3-7, The Message Bible
Each commercial, each bawdy joke, each holiday-drama filled sitcom is intended to accomplish one thing: distraction. Give yourself a break from the distraction, the drama, the commercialism. Allow your heart some time to enjoy a quiet evening, a simple morning or a restful afternoon.
All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions. 1 Corinthians 7:35 The Message Bible
"We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well."
(1 Corinthians 10:24b MSG)