June 26, 2016

Thinking More

Blessed Sunday! Oh, what a good day to be alive and to give praise and honor to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! It is a good day, such a very good day.

It is 9:27 a.m. and I am thinking about whether I should get myself ready to head over to SBC for church this morning. Part of me knows this is a good idea, but part of me would rather stay at home and enjoy the peace and quiet. All is well, mind you. I am feeling pretty good, even though I didn't get to bed earlier than I had hoped. I stayed up watching the end of season 4 of "Stargate Atlantis" on Amazon Instant Video last night. By the time I made it to the season ender, I had to stay up to watch episode 1 of season 5 just to make sure all was well with the team stationed in Atlantis. Whew! What a relief. The funny thing is that I don't remember seeing all of these episodes originally. I am thinking that I must have missed some of them back in 09' but that seems odd to me. Back then, my family (my ex-husband and my son) religiously watched "Stargate SG-1" and the spin-off, "Stargate Atlantis" every single Friday night. It was our "family TV" time and we made a big deal out of it. I honestly didn't remember most of season four episodes. I recall falling asleep through a number of them, and I am guessing that is what happened. Anyway, last night I remembered why I enjoyed this TV series so much. The Stargate team of writers created such dynamic and humorous situations for these characters and they gave the actors great freedom to express themselves through dialog and action. Plus, the stories were so good -- mythic and filled with good versus evil -- plots, characters, and drama. The series and the spin-offs recreated the enjoyment of old fashioned Sci-Fi like "Brave New World" and "I, Robot" along with the hyped up super spectacular movie science fiction of the "Alien" franchise. Anyhow, I am a bit tired today so as I sit here, my mind is thinking perhaps it is best to just stay at home.

I know, I know, staying up late to binge-watch an old TV series is not a good reason to miss church. Sigh!

Thinking About My Life (in Retrospect)

I woke up this morning thinking about my life and how I am at this transition place once again. It has been three years since my last "job" change, and right now, I am feeling convicted over my decision to leave teaching for a position as a business analyst in the healthcare field. I spent some time in prayer this morning, and then I surfed the web looking for articles to soothe my worries and fears. I also spent some time re-reading my blog. I looked back over my life beginning in 2008 and then spent time in some of the posts from 2012. In all, I came away thinking how I am on the right track, at the least, with my thoughts toward fulfilling the Lord's will for my life. In one particular post, I realized how often I am in this same place, thinking about "what may or may not happen" and how I always remind myself where to place my focus, my resolve, and my hope. Yes, I come back to the fact that my security and my provision is never to be placed in things, in people, or in the world. I am to place my hope -- all of my hope -- in the One who is my Lord. Whenever I look to my own hand or to a job for security (stability) and for provision (wealth), then I am taking my eyes off God and off of His role in my life. You see, the Lord is our security (eternal) and He is the provider and sustainer of our life. He meets every need with sufficiency, and while this is true (and it is), where we struggle most is when our sufficiency (our faith, our trust, and our reliance) in the Lord seems to run counter to our circumstances.

For example, we may believe that the Lord loves us, cares for us, and yes, provides for us (materially -- physically, spiritually, emotionally, etc.), but when our bowls are empty, our wells dry, it becomes difficult to remain faithful to God. It is hard to "eat" hope, drink "faith," etc. I understand what it is like to be at the short end of the stick each pay period. I understand what it feels like to want to have "more than enough" simply to stave the worry, the fear, and the doubt. I know how good and pleasant it is to have that satisfied feeling of fullness. I long for it, desire it, and at times, worship it. I shouldn't. I shouldn't do this, and when I find myself prostrate before the idol of security and provision, I have to remember whom it is that I worship. My allegiance is to the my Lord alone, so I have to pull down all those high places, those ashram poles, and those altars. The word of the Lord forbids us to worship any created thing (Ex. 20:4), and financial wealth, prosperity and security are created things.

Over the course of the past few years, I have made seeking wealth a priority. Now, I haven't made it my goal, but rather I have desired to be free from the bonds of debt. I have desired to be free so that I could rest, enjoy life, and no longer be stressed about money matters. My reasons for doing so were simple. When I came out of my marriage, I vowed to the Lord that I would never be poor again. I didn’t blame the Lord; rather it was more a statement of fact and a plea for His help to keep me from ever sinking to a created low. I believed, and I still do, that poor decisions made during my marriage led my family into a life of poverty.

In short, poor business decisions created a scenario of long-lasting poverty. Averting disaster was more a matter of the will than unforeseen circumstances. My ex-husband refused to do any other work except for being self-employed. Even when circumstances were dire, he refused to stop pursuing wealth through ill-gotten gain, and to find an honorable job to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. I stopped nagging him after many years, and I resigned myself to living above the poverty line just to keep our marriage from coming apart at the seams.

In hindsight, I should have stopped giving in, and I should have taken a defensive position in order for him to see the damage he was causing to all of us. I didn’t do that, so I always felt partially responsible for our living situation. Once I was free and no longer forced to live this way, I asked the Lord to help me recover my standing, and to provide a modest life for me and my son. I didn’t seek wealth or fame as my ex-husband did. I simply wanted to be secure, to have “enough” and to never be in debt.

My heartfelt desire, natural and not born in idolatry, was understood to be a consequence of a life lived this way. But, over time, especially after I started working full-time, I began to see the power of my abilities to earn income. I also began to see the favor and blessing of productivity given to me by the Lord as skills that could be used to pursue great wealth. In order to provide for myself and my son, I often looked to my own abilities, my gifts and talents to meet our needs. Thankfully, when this has happened, my efforts to produce good work, to create positive outcomes, and yes, to enjoy the blessing of provision have simmered, and sometimes, ceased all together. In time, I have come to the knowledge of this behavior only after a circumstance or fact whereby I realized that I had leaned on another source rather than the One True Source. Thus, I know better, I always know what NOT to do. Yet, there is this voice that calls to me, enticing me to entertain this longing. This voice entices me to follow after worldly efforts, efforts that produce results.

Forsake Worldly Things

Hebrews 13:5 NIV - Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

The word clearly tells us that we are to forsake all that ensnares us. We are to treat sinful lusts and desires by cutting off the offending part. Now, did the Apostles mean we were to literally cut off our tongue or pluck our eyes out? No, of course not. But we were to treat these desires as though they were a sickness, a device of the enemy designed to pull us from our true calling — to worship the Lord will all our mind, our soul, our body, and our strength.

John says in 1 John 2:15, “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.” And Paul reminds us in Romans 12:2 NIV, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

Clearly, Scripture tells us to be careful when we pursue money or the “love of money.” We must not run after worldly things or the world’s system. It is too easy to become entangled in the trap of the enemy and lose our purpose, our calling, and our life.

I know the ruse of my enemy. I know how easily I am ensnared in his trap. I know that I must turn from all thoughts, all motivations, and all desires that would place a created thing upon the throne room of my heart. I am to do nothing that would compromise my walk, my integrity, or my testimony.

This makes me wonder if I am to remain where I am, in forced poverty simply to keep myself from giving into these desires. I wonder if this is right and proper. Then, I realize that flagellation is not what the Lord desires in me. No, the Lord desires my humility and that means that He is already aware of my propensity to elevate these two things to a high place. I must therefore humble myself, and place these desires at His feet. I must acknowledge that what I want is never to run counter to what He wants for me. I must let His will come to pass because He will tend to it, keep it, and make it so that His will always is for my best. I must rest in His authority over me, and remember daily that He is the One who provides everything to me. He is my security. He is my portion. And, yes, He is my cup.

Choosing Today

Thus, I choose today to submit and yield all worldly desires to His mighty and merciful hand. I cannot stand against the onslaught, the world that says "you must have," so I trust these desires to Him and I ask Him to root out all evil and all longing that is counter to His desires for my life. I must let Him right my ship in His way. I must let Him bring to completion His work. I must allow Him to resolve the tension in my life, and I must rest in His way, His plan, and His provision. I must never look to my own hand to provide anything again. I must never let my desires for wealth, security, and provision drive my decision-making. I must be wise, yes. I must be a good steward, of course. I must be a strong manager of my home, my business, and the work the Lord calls me to do. But, He is the Overseer, and in that role, He takes responsibility for every provision, every process, and every ounce of prosperity I receive. He alone is to be worshiped. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah!

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