July 11, 2017

tuesday-text-v2

Thought to share: don’t spend your time trying to project success, beauty or the perfect life. Those things never helped another. They never changed the world. Instead, focus on projecting ME. Let your words of joy and love paint a picture of ME. Let your attitude of kindness and patience display MY heart. Let your choices of faithfulness and self-control reflect MY character. And as you present ME in your everyday life, you will change the world.

Matthew 5:16 (NLT) In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)  But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
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The adventures of #15

I have been horribly sick this week with an abscessed tooth. Fewer things in life are as terrible as a toothache. I endured the labor and delivery of three children with no drugs better than I handled this small, inconspicuous tooth. The pain was relentlessly excruciating. I won’t go into detail – just suffice it to say that I’m glad to be alive. And the pounds I lost were NOT worth it. (that ought to tell you something)

As I writhed in pain, I wanted Bill to lay hands on my tooth and pray the pain away. Moaning in agony, I wanted Bill to rend the heavens. As I lay on the bathroom floor quoting Scriptures like to live is Christ and to die is gain, I wanted Bill to fast and intercede for me.

I was too busy hurting to talk to Abba about this tooth. My mind was too focused on the object of my discomfort to think of anything else. My thoughts were occupied with the never ending nausea and all the stuff that goes with it. I was too busy wondering if this was ever going to end. And if it did, would I have all my teeth? And what would I look like if teeth were missing? Would Bill be ok with a toothless wife? How many teeth do you actually need to still talk?

And somewhere between the shower and the toilet, I realized something.

My mind was full of everything but the one thing that could help me through this: Truth. The facts of my situation were undeniable – I was in a painful mess. After dentist hours. (doesn’t it always seem to happen that way?) And I chose to look at the facts. I chose to worry about those facts. I chose to speculate on those facts.

Instead, I needed to stop and shift my focus, zooming in on the Truth that Jesus has promised to never leave me (Hebrews 13:5) and is right there with me – even on the bathroom floor. I needed to turn over all my worries to Him because He cares about me (1Peter 5:7). I needed to remember that I can give my problems to Him and He will take care of them (Psalm 55:22) I needed to remember that He goes before me and is following me and even if I go to the grave (hey – I wasn’t so sure) He would be there with me and His strength would support me (Psalm 139:5-10).

Once I straightened out my thinking, things got better. Yes, my tooth still hurt. Yes, I was still nauseous. No, I wasn’t on the bathroom floor anymore because Bill wouldn’t let me lie there any longer. BUT – my perspective changed and I felt hopeful. I was comforted by the thought that Jesus surrounded me and I wasn’t alone in my pain. I was calmed by the Truth that Jesus was with me and helping me in ways Bill never could. I was encouraged because I knew that Abba’s strength was supporting me. When I stopped letting my circumstances consume me and allowed His presence to enfold me, I was at rest.

This painful experience is one more step in the process. Learning to lean on Him for strength and grace. Learning to let Him take care of me. Learning to let Him lead, even in a toothache. Learning that no experience is wasted.  Learning to trust Him with the outcome. Learning that His timing is not mine (especially in this situation). Learning that He is working everything together for my good.

Did I already know these things? Yes. But I needed to choose to remember and think on these things. And that made all the difference.

And when I do finally die, I am going to leave this tooth to my children because it’s the most expensive thing I own.

ps – a huge thank you to the best dentist in the world, Dr. Scott Ferguson. He came in after hours to help a poor girl out. I also want to thank the wonderful Dr. Steven Fegan, who came in on Superbowl Sunday in a blizzard to save my life. 

pss ~ October 2017: this tooth is now encased in a velvet jewel box, kept with all my valuables. I’m sure my children will be thrilled to inherit. 

 

 

Exchanging Perspectives

It’s 1994 and I’m sitting on the couch in our Nashville apartment stewing. I’m upset. I’m angry. I’m hurt. Someone did something and said something and now I’m wounded. The incident occurred several weeks ago and I’m still upset. I can’t get it off my mind. I can’t let it go. I’m offended. I’m replaying the incident over and over again. I can’t believe they did this. I can’t believe they said this. I can’t believe they did it behind my back. It’s eating me up inside.

And as I sit there, letting waves of hurt wash over me, I hear Holy Spirit gently say: “Will this matter when you get to Heaven?

What?

He repeats: “Will this matter when you get to Heaven?

I pause.

He presses: “In the grand scheme of things – in light of eternity – will this make any difference?”

Gulp. “No Lord, it won’t.”

He continues: “I will not ask you about this when you see Me. But I will ask about your attitude.

That would not be the last time I would hear those gentle words whispered into my heart. He often has to redirect my attention. I can get so caught up in the moment that I fail to realize it’s just that – a temporary, fleeting moment. I can get so tangled up in the here and now that I drag it with me into the future, where it inevitably trips me up. And I can be an expert in making a mountain out of a mole hill. You should see some of my creations.

So, He is patiently teaching me to exchange my worldly perspective for an eternal one. With His tender nudges, He is encouraging me to swap my short-term thinking for the timeless view point. He is inviting me to look at things from His perspective.

By answering the three questions, I begin to see through His perspective.

  • Will this matter when you get to Heaven? Is this even something that I will think about in eternity? Will it be a big deal in Heaven? Will there be talk about this in Heaven?
  • In the grand scheme of things – in light of eternity – will this make any difference? Stepping back to look at the big picture; where does this fit? Does this change my relationship with Jesus? Does this change my eternal destination? Can I take this with me to Heaven? Does it have any impact on Heaven?
  • I will ask about your attitude. What will Jesus say to me about this? What will He say about how I handled the situation? How I treated others? How I represented Him? Will He say “Well done My good an faithful servant?” (Matthew 25:23) Or will this be more wood, hay and straw that I’ve filled my life with? (1Corinthians 3:11-16)

And as I look at my circumstances through the lens of His perspective, I begin to see what really matters.

The things that I have elevated to critical status are now deflated to their rightful position or eliminated altogether. I realize the emotions I’ve been hanging on to are damaging me. I see that my attitudes are hurting others. I see that I have emphasized and valued the wrong things. As I look at everything from His perspective, everything shifts back into its proper place.

I’m in the process of learning how to live out Colossians 3:1-2 ….set your sights on the realities of heaven……Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. I want to think more about Heaven and less about earth with each passing day. I want to exchange my worldly perspective for the eternal. I want the realities of Heaven to shape my thinking so that I can see everything from His perspective. glasses