As I sit here with coffee in hand and pray over what to write to you, this one thing comes to my mind. It is a confession with an exhortation! I speak to you humbly and honestly.
Currently (and again), I am living my life with crowded margins – As my life story is written and laid out, I have pressed to the outer limits – filling every blank space and even then, cramming more onto the page of each day! I’m drowning in commitments, over achievement, and a brain that works overtime trying to solve problems and to minimize the chaos that I have created.
Some of you who know me well, watch…shake your head…and respond with “there she goes again.” Or, you sit in judgment and think, “she does this to herself!” Your thoughts and judgments are true. It seems to be a pattern in my life just like the giant waves that come in and go out, they also rise and fall. I seem to ride them but the ride is rough!
It is something that God continues to work on in my life to teach me management skills. I'm simply hard headed. Just when I think I've got it under control, I'm over taken again by placing myself deep into things that require a huge magnitude of time and energy.
There are busy seasons in my job as a music teacher and when those times come to an already full life, sometimes it feels like “The Perfect Storm” and I’m tossed around just trying to survive. I am so thankful for the tiniest of moments when there is a lapse of activity and a moment of calm like the eye of the storm!
I am approaching the eye and I see some calm waters ahead. But in the midst of the raging and torrential storm, my sweet husband threw out a life ring and surprised me with a little get away. My first thought was, “Great! (deep sigh) Now I’m really going to be behind and more stressed out with deadlines…I have so much to do!” He had an extended weekend off and knows how much I love to get away. I also think he could see me crashing. I’m so grateful for that little reprieve and the lifeline! It has taken me four full days to slightly recover (just a little). I’m slap worn out and limp like an over steamed vegetable! We had a nice time being together but I wasn’t much fun. I found myself sitting on every bench I could find, slow moving, unmotivated, weepy at even the silliest of things, and I wasn’t much for conversation as I slept to and from our get away. I couldn’t even sit on the bed without falling over indulging in a quick minute of rest. How sad and pathetic! I looked into the mirror and got a real shock the other morning! I looked awful – in fact, so awful that I scared myself a little.
“Who is this person and what did you do to the Masterpiece that I have created?!”
Then I had that “talk to the mirror” conversation:
Look what you’ve done! What are you thinking?...obviously you are not thinking!
Why do you do this to yourself? You’re simply stupid! You know better!
You need a RESTORE Retreat; but how can you help others be restored when you can’t even do it yourself?
Do you see the hidden words….YOU? I’m back to the sin of self focus.
Of course I was so exhausted, Satan took advantage and did his condemnation dance round about me! Quickly I recognized this tune and prayed for help. I also had to step back and examine the cause and reality of my exhaustion. I did it again…I’m trying to do too many things and in my own strength…managing nothing very successfully…focusing on the giant word of 4 little letters…self. It is very easy for me to take over God’s work in my life. It’s just not easy to maintain. Besides, He didn’t intend for me to be boss! He is the one with good things planned…long ago! I make a mess of everything.
The question of “What did you do to the Masterpiece that I have created” lingered.
I confess, I am guilty…guilty of neglect. Guilty of neglecting the more important things. Those are the things with eternal value. Taking up my cross and denying self daily. (Luke 9:23,24) It seems that the masterpiece has been the center of attention far too long. It has gotten dirty, worn out, torn, faded, used up and has lost its shine.
Today I looked into the mirror again and asked myself, where is that masterpiece?
I looked hard and deep into the eyes in the mirror. A reflection of something that God treasures and holds dear to his heart stared back at me through His mirror of truth. With a broken heart I cried out, I am here Lord. I just need a little repairing, renovating, and restoration! I ask for forgiveness. Use me as you see fit.
Don’t we all need some repairing? I’m certain that I am not the only one who fills in the margins of life. Perhaps you can relate. Identify your faults and repent. Jesus is ready to renew your mind and heart. I love Romans 12: 1,2 but let’s read only verse two: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Oh Father, who watches over me with grace and mercy,
help me not conform to the patterns of this world,
the busyness, the selfishness, and acts of self-reliance.
Transform and renew my mind with your ways, your thoughts, and your actions.
For in doing so, I will know all that you desire of me;
for it is good, acceptable, and perfect.
It is your will and not mine.
Restore unto me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Ps. 51:12)
I am weak and weary for I walk in the flesh.
Remove those desires and replace them with a heart of service and love.
Guide my way and let me flourish like the palm tree (Ps. 92:12-15)
bearing fruit, staying green and fresh
as I proclaim your steadfastness.
For surely you are my Rock!
It is you whom I worship and adore.
May my actions reflect my love for you and
help draw others into the knowledge of your saving power.
Please forgive my sins, once again I pray.
Let me find strength in your healing grace.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Exhortation: During the busyness of the next few weeks, take time to keep Christ the center of your life. Do only what He calls you to do. Sure, you may be like me with tons on your plate; some of us can handle lots or God has required much of us. What often occurs and causes the most pain is doing and carrying things in your own strength. This is where I get into trouble. That’s when everything begins to fall apart. Show love this season and help someone in need, not just physical needs but maybe an emotional need or offer a spiritual nudge. Serve one another in love. If you see your brother falling, help him. “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Gal. 6:1,2
Kathy has written some wonderful thoughts on Juggling Life's Demands with Grace. I would like to encourage you to go back through, study and meditate on these truths. If necessary, print them out. Apply them to your life. They are simplistic and foundational, yet so relevant. Remind yourself to live them out. How easy it seems to slip back into old habits even when you know God's word. I cannot wait for the eye of my demanding storm to hover over me; allowing me opportunity to rediscover the richness of His word, I need them now! It is in the midst of the raging winds that I must hold fast to His words and carry them with me during life's demands!
Honestly Speaking, Sherry
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