No Wasted Days

As a kid I loved stickers. Every single sticker I could get my hands on got a place of honor in my Lisa Frank sticker book. Mostly they were random “good work” stickers from school or a smiling tooth giving a thumb’s up from the dentist’s office. And 90s kids, remember the sticker boxes? They opened like a treasure chest to reveal several individual compartments filled with rolls and stacks of colorful, sparkly stickers. 

I was obsessed, but I never used any of them. To me, the stickers were too beautiful to be used. There was no binder, notebook, or pencil case important enough to deserve them. So they sat unused on a shelf and then in a box. Years later, I threw them out feeling nostalgic and disappointed. In my fear that I’d “waste the good ones”, I unintentionally stripped them of their whole purpose – joy.

I Lost My Joy

I worry all the time that I am “wasting” my days. Here I am, the proud owner of a beautiful collection of blessings, each more lovely than the next. So why do I feel such discontent and never able to truly enjoy them? The minutiae of daily life has more of my attention than joy has. Hey, we all get it — life comes so fast and gets so complicated. Sometimes it feels like you’re just trying to survive day to day. Today as I changed another diaper I wondered to myself when the days won’t all seem like a repeat of the day before, a la Groundhog Day.

I might be doing all the right things: going to church, serving, reading the Bible, etc. But I am not benefitting as I should if I am not resting in that joy of the Lord. I realized that is what I have lost.

Jesus says in John 10:10 that he has come that we “may have life and have it to the full” but he wasn’t referring to long life, wealth, and comfort. 

Rather, a full life to Jesus is one in which there is a perfect marriage of intimacy between Creator and created. That’s where the joy is – in a constant state of harmony between my heart and His. 

How Do I Get The Joy Back?

I’m not alone in this struggle. While the Holy Spirit does the work inside me, I am also working to “…cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in…unanxious and unintimidated” (1 Peter 3:4-5 MSG). It is accomplished by consistent, and intentional decisions to submit to God. Practically, true heartfelt prayer. There’s just no substitute for it.

Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10 CSB

Now I am an adult buying fun stickers for my own daughter. I watched her unapologetically use every single sticker on the page. She didn’t hesitate to use the big sparkly ones as I would have done, and she wasn’t saving the best for last. No, this little girl, yet unspoiled by worry or fear, was simply delighted by them.

Have you lost joy in the Lord? Do your days feel endless and tiring? Bring this to God in prayer.

Dear Father, Thank you for bringing the discontentment we feel to the forefront of our minds. Look down on your daughters who long to love you but who struggle to do this rightly. I pray that you would move in our hearts to spark that joy of your presence again. Fill us with your peace and remind us of your all-encompassing care for our souls. Remind us that you don’t need any help in setting your plans into motion, and that not one of our days are wasted. 

Seeking God: Seeking answers

Read: Psalm 17:1-5, John 16:7

Christ: My disciples fretted about what they didn’t understand instead of coming directly to me. They went to each other like the blind leading the blind, but I am the Way.

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Think: Is God my first resource for answers? Who or what do I consult for answers before going to God?

Pray: Dear Jesus, lead me yourself. Save me from false information. Where am I getting my information about You and Your nature? Teach me yourself. I will rely on none but you. Amen.

When is God good?

Is God good when I get what I want? Is He still good when I don’t get what I want?

At first glance, I want to say  “All the time”. But wait, is that true for me? Do I actually live my life like God is good, or do I stomp my feet and cry like a petulant child when I don’t get my way? This is a question that takes some soul-searching.

In this season of my life I just can’t seem to get over the very logical fact that I do not have the same life path as others. I have plans for myself that very obviously are not the same God has in mind for me. I know this because if they were, they would have happened already.

I’m struggling to accept it and work on myself and keep up the faith in the mean time, but my selfish childish voice inside can’t understand it. My being is absolutely divided-I want but cannot have.

Habakkuk 2:1-3

2 I will stand at my watch
and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
and what answer I am to give to this complaint.[a]

The Lord’s Answer

Then the Lord replied:

“Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald[b] may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it[c] will certainly come
and will not delay.

You can’t take worries to Heaven!

Many changes are coming up later this month, including that I will be moving into a new place. Right now, I’m struggling with a few different things:

  1. Getting rid of things. In all the cleaning, organizing, and packing, there are some material possessions I am having a hard time letting go of. This is because I either dread having to repurchase them later, I have an inordinate emotional attachment to them, or I just selfishly want to hang on to them because they are the trophy items of my financial achievements.
  2. Impending changes. A few very important people are moving away in a matter of weeks: my sister and my boyfriend. I’m not losing them, they are just off to do bigger and better things. There will be an adjustment period during which I will mourn and eat lots of ice cream.

In all the changing and letting go of things and situations, I did a quick search on bible verses that mention possessions. Most of the verses that kept coming up were in the context of practical commands to give to those who are in need out of the abundance God has blessed us with. While this is excellent, I kept searching and lo and behold, verses 19 to the end highlighted the exact two issues I’m dealing with: possessions and worrying about the future. Here’s what God showed me:

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also ~Matthew 6:21

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ~ Matthew 6:33

The bad news: I’m awfully preoccupied with controlling my situation, and awfully UN-occupied with seeking God first in all things. All things means all things. Even when you’re about to step into a new phase in your life and everything feels like it’s going backwards and upside-down. It means I should seek Him in the little details like giving away my favorite tea kettle, and in the medium-sized things like giving away my beautiful Ikea bed I love so much but have no room for, and in the king-sized things like having a long-distance relationship, uncertain how we will end up.

But here’s the good news: Jesus promises us that our Father knows what we need and will provide, and that we are storing up treasures in Heaven “where moth and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20). He will add to me everything I need, and then some! (Matthew 6:33).

It’s certainly not easy trying to remember and take comfort in these passages. Indeed, these are hard things to apply to real life. I am a physical being in a tangible world, but this is not my permanent home. Jesus prayed to the Father for his disciples, and you and me, in John chapter 17:

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. (vv. 14-19).

Lord, Thank you for revealing your love for us chronic worriers through your Word. Use it in our lives that we might be renewed in our mines and attitudes for Your Glory. Thank you that you don’t ever leave us to face hardship and change on our own. Help us to keep Your perspective on what is worthy of our attention. Amen!