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Please visit me at REDEEMED...RESTORED...RELEASED: One Woman's Story of Living Free to read more about what God is doing in my life and how He is working those things to set me free. Thanks so much for following, visiting, reading all about it and supporting me as you have done so many times these last few years. If you follow my other blogs, the posts from all three of my blogs are going to be transferred to the new digs for one big blog about our journey to restoration and freedom in Christ.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuesday's In Other Words: Seek Him First, Worry Less

This week's quote was submitted by Patricia at Typing One Handed... Check out her blog and add your own response to the Following Quote as we examine its meaning "In Other Words..."

“What would happen if we stopped lamenting about the fifty things we can’t control and focused our attention on the fifty thousand things we can control? What would happen if we stopped whining about things we have the power to change and finally took charge of our lives and changed them? What would happen if we stopped borrowing sorrow from tomorrow? If we got in the habit of asking ourselves, “What’s on my plate today?”
Chocolatherapy: Satisfying the Deepest Cravings of Your Inner Chick
by Karen Scalf Linamen

I wanted to add something to this quote today... To truly say something profound. But, all I could say to myself was, "Rest in God. Anything I need to change wholly and fully rests in Him and His power to change me from the inside out." The most profound thing I could come up with was:
"1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
ROMANS 12:1-2 (NIV)

No sooner had I filed that little nugget of Scripture away in my brain did this one pop up:
Who of you by worrying
can add a single hour to his life?
Matthew 6:27
I recently made the decision to step away from hosting "In Other Words" quotes on my blog for this very reason. "The Tyranny of the Urgent" as one pastor called it during a class at church I took last year. The obsessive need we have to answer every phone call, meet every demand, conquer every deadline and be all things to all people at all times. We want to fix those who are broken, worry and opportunity our children into successful and productive lives, have our own success and kudo moments, and have the picture perfect marriage all while rushing around trying to be June Cleaver, Charlie (from the perfume ad), and that "Ideal Girl" my high school senior class hosted a dinner for in 1988. But, what are we really doing to ourselves. We're being Martha and living in a Martha world when Mary chose what was better.
So what do we do about this dilemma?
24"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
This verse of Scripture reminds me to prioritize my life not by worldly standards of material wealth and popular opinion, but by the standard of God's Holy Kingdom and Word. Devotion to God in every aspect of my life - my home life, my career, my church, my relationships and my personal devotion time will help me to prioritize and evaluate things from a godly perspective.
25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
I think often times, we get caught up in what society says we should look like, how we should dress to impress and what we eat and drink... That we get so caught up in the things of life, we miss the source of life all together. I have found the closer I get to God and the more He clarifies and sorts out the matters of my heart, the more I want to sort out and clarify the matters of my life. Discovering my identity in Christ and living in His reality gives me truth that sets me free. Free to clean out my closets, give up the donuts and chocolate cake, and pass by the sale rack with the most divine dress on it because He satisfies me and meets my every need in His own way and His own time. He meets my needs.
26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
From the least of creation to the greatest of all God's plans... He provides and protects, gives value and prosperity in every way. He satisfies their need for physical sustinance and they labor not to gain more than their daily needs. What would life be like if we were not so focused on the earthly reward of life and career and more focused on the heavenly reward of God's purpose and promise in our lives.
27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

There are two answers for worry and stress in Scripture that help me to maintain my focus when I am struggling to "keep it all under control." Philippians 4:6-7 which admonishes us to be anxious about nothing but to be thankful and give everything over to God in prayer that concerns us so we can receive His peace in exchange for our anxiety and worry. And, then there is the rest of God. Matthew 11:28-30 offers two invitations. The first is to receive Jesus' rest. Rest for our weary souls. To be refreshed in mind, will and emotions by God's grace. He then invites us to take up His burden - His yoke and learn from Him. He tells us that the secret to overcoming that which burdens us so - the cares of this life - is to learn from his humble and gentle heart. To give up the fast paced life for the meaningful moments with God. What would that look like?
28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Again, why do we add so much stress to our lives chasing after the temporary and forsaking the divine? Does that even make sense? God's economy and value system are so very different from ours. I have found that living in the overflow of God's grace in my life leaves me wanting very little --- needing less to exist and get by. As my faith in God as my full portion and provision has grown, my need to fill my life with people and things has diminished. True freedom comes when God has full dominion and freedom to move in my life, direct my path and mark out my way... Not when I receive that which I strive the most to attain.

31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
If Jesus said do not worry about the basic necessities because God knows we need them, then what must we do to receive and attain those things that society tells us mark us with success and value?
33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

That's IT! Mary chose what was better when Jesus came to visit because she did not concern herself with impressing Him by her works of service or the value of what she served. Mary cared little how her devotion looked to those around her - she just wanted to be close to Jesus, sitting at His feet learning from Him. Seeking first His Kingdom and Righteousness. Mary's devotion to Christ is expressed so beautifully as she pours forth the expensive perfume on Jesus' feet and wipes them with her hair. (John 12:3)
Once again we find her at the feet of Jesus, pouring out her life's savings in service to Him. An expression of devotion and value that says I trust you more than I trust in what I have labored and earned. And where was Martha? Verse 2 tells us Martha was serving.
Part of stewardship is learning to manage well all the resources God has given us. But, to be a good steward it means we sometimes must sacrifice and take less for ourselves in favor of giving up what we value to receive what God desires to provide for us most: Himself.

Be sure to visit LONI at Writing Canvas to find out more about "In Other Words" and how you can join in this fun and insightful weekly meme! Be Blessed.


Patricia said...

Tyranny of the Urgent! is the title of a small booklet published by InterVarsity Press that my husband received years ago. It is excellent for us women to remember. We tend to take on way too much and become too fragmented. Thank you for the reminder.

Denise said...

Wow, such a wonderful post sweetie.

Susan said...

Another GREAT post Michelle!! Thanks so much.

And what an awesome way to conclude with one of my all time FAVORITE songs!! Yes...

You are such a blessing. Thanks for being obedient to the Lord.

Now, I'm going to finish enjoying this awesome song.

Love you♥

writingcanvas said...

I am so glad you shared today! This quote really stirred my heart, to remind me I've got to hand this over (again) to God. THANK YOU for sharing! :)

Kathryn @ Expectant Hearts said...

Michelle, thank you for visiting my blog today too. I enjoyed your take on this quote as well. Wouldn't it be nice if we didn't make just "Rest in God" so hard for ourselves?