Spend time in God’s Word.
Guard my thought life.
These three disciplines have been a priority in my daily life for many, many years.
Until, this summer. Then, somehow, I let these vital practices slip. The result was not pretty. In fact, much to my dismay, their neglect, absolutely, brought out the ugly in me!
My character decline began soon after my husband and I purchased our new house. It required much tender loving care before we could call it home. Thus, began many long days of packing boxes, shopping for the right flooring, paint, and fixtures, plus checking on the progress of the contractors.
I started each day with a perpetual “to do” list. Then, I fell into bed each night, exhausted, yet, completely wired. I was running on adrenaline, and neglected my own personal care. The result was a grouchy, unhappy, and ugly woman who I hardly recognized as myself.
I knew the problem. I knew the solution. I needed to reorder my priorities. I needed:
1) Fresh Manna
Every morning, I grabbed an ice tea at Starbucks. Then, I drove to check on the progress of the new house, before continuing on to shop for products or purchase supplies. Sadly, I disregarded God’s still, small voice inviting me to stop, to sit, and spend a little time in His Word before going about my day.
For the first time, since the days when I was overwhelmed with four small children, I neglected my daily practice of spending time in God’s Word. And, over the days and weeks that followed, I missed the fresh manna that I found there. The Lord’s marching orders for my day. His life-giving, daily bread; Spiritual food which fed my soul.
Joshua 1:8 (Msg) says, “Don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed.”
2) Fresh Air
One night, after another marathon day, I collapsed into bed exhausted. But, my heart felt as if it was racing. I took my pulse. It was normal. Yet, everything in me was still going at hyper-speed.
Afraid, I prayed. And, God answered. He reminded me of the benefits I enjoy from regular exercise. I realized, although I was “running my tush off” from morning til night, I had neglected intentional, regular exercise. I had forgotten that my daily discipline of a long walk in the fresh air got my blood pumping and my endorphins flowing. I digested better. I slept better. Overall, I felt better.
I Timothy 4:8 (Msg) says, “Exercise daily in God...Workouts in the gymnasium are useful...a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever.”
3) Fresh Focus
The extreme busyness of life, plus my neglect of time in God’s Word and exercise, made my mind sloppy, and it became fertile soil for “stinkin thinkin.” Every day, I wrestled with negative thoughts, which often turned into unkind words like, “I don’t want to move! I hate remodeling! Why, didn’t God give us the house I liked better?”
Deep down in my heart, I knew God led us to the very house we purchased. And, I believed He closed the door to other houses we liked more. But, I found little strength to battle what I believed in my heart against the unhappy thoughts in my head.
What I needed was an attitude adjustment, a fresh focus. I had learned, long ago, to fight the battle in my mind with praises to God for His faithfulness, with thankfulness for His provision, and with faith in the plans He had for us. And, in this case, to trust Him with the home He chose for us, remodel and all.
2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
I confess, as the craziness of life continued, I had to work hard to set aside time each day to read God’s Word, to exercise, and to take every thought captive. But, as I did, peace replaced anxiety. Calm replaced turmoil. And, slowly, the ugliness was subdued, and the “mostly” kind person, who I recognized, began to return.
Dear friend, during this busy season, I pray that you will take time each day to feast on fresh manna from the Word of God, to breath in fresh air with a nice long walk or a bike ride or gym workout, and to find fresh focus on what is good, right and true in the midst of the extra responsibilities and frustrations that the Christmas holiday can bring.
Merry Christmas and God richly bless you! Cathy