Both of the resources that I'm going to be blogging about for the next few weeks came into my life quite serendipitously. First off, I've started signing up monthly to get books mailed to me from Bethany House Publishers to review (remember The Messenger by Siri Mitchell?) and the one I just received is called Unstuck: Your Life. God's Design. Real Change. by Arnie Cole and Michael Ross. One of my favorite book genres is Christian non-fiction and so I of course started reading it immediately. The book's setup is perfectly suited for a 45-day study in growing closer to Christ. Depending on how my in-depth passage studies go each day, I might combine a couple or more days into 1. Although I do want to take this slow and really engage with the material and with my heart this month. I've strayed so far from focusing daily...or even weekly...on God's word and as is true every time, my emotional/spiritual/mental state has suffered for it. [More on this study after I introduce the 2nd.]
Secondly, I started receiving Sarah Mae blog updates after a MoneySavingMom post mentioned a free ebook to be had if only you subscribed to the Sarah Mae blog (remember Frumps to Pumps?). Well I've greatly enjoyed receiving email updates from this blog (she is amazing at getting to the spiritual heart of issues) and just this morning I noticed a great new series she's doing called "31 Days to Clean: A Martha House the Mary Way." Funny how I recently posted on one of the posts in this series without realizing just how impactful diligently following along with the series could be. Basically, she focuses on clearing out the clutter in our hearts, spirits, and minds so that we can really focus on God while at the same time making little moves to clean our houses. Wow! What a powerful and truly meaningful combination of tasks. The coolest thing is the way the challenges are separated into a Martha Challenge (the house cleaning one) and a Mary Challenge (the God focusing one). Love love :-)
So to begin...
DAY 1 -
Unstuck: I've read Chapter 1, and talk about some amazing insights! My favorite is a super Captain Obvious one that is something Christians often overlook: The Bible was written by GOD! I mean really, how absolutely amazing and comforting is that? We have tangible access to a book that God breathed. Why then do we so often ignore this fact and allow our copies of The Bible to become paperweights or simply coffee table books? Sadly, I must admit that I've fallen into this pattern and have to start the journey again to realize just how powerful this fact is.
Revelation 21:1-4 : What causes me to feel hopeless at times?
*Sigh* this is a big question and unfortunately, some of the things mentioned in this passage of Revelation are part of what gets to the heart of my hopelessness sometimes. I have a lot of questions and, admittedly, misgivings about the millennial Earth. No ocean?!? How could that possibly be a beautiful thing? What about all the majestic creatures that live there? What about the cool breezes that blow over the breakers and tint the air with a hint of salt? Don't even get me started on heaven...a golden city? A mansion for each person? No marriage? I can't say that ANY of these questions are comforting and they all leave me feeling so incredibly hopeless. I love Christ and want to be as close to Him as possible, but I also love nature and the beautiful creation that He made. I find my most peaceful moments when I'm laying down outside and listening to the noises made by God's creatures. Tack all of these questions on to the idea of living forever and it just sounds like a recipe for misery :-( God has done so much for me in this earthly life and Jesus has been a truly uplifting presence in some incredibly horrific life circumstances - I just have a really difficult time reconciling the way God made me with the way heaven and the millennial Earth are supposed to be. I welcome any and all insights!
- I guess this was actually a truly beneficial passage to begin with on this journey as it digs up some of my worst fears and gives me a perfect starting point for engaging deeply with scripture.
Since I've already posted on the distractions in my life, I'm going to write a little about the Day 2 Mary Challenge: focus on Psalm 119. Yes this is the longest of all the Psalms but man does it have some wonderful verses. I came across 2 that really struck me.
Psalm 119:71 - It is good for me that I was afflicted,That I may learn Your statutes.
75 - I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
I have been through a number of afflictions in my life - mostly emotional, but some physical - and ever since I've become a Christian, I've looked on these things as God-given pathways to Jesus Himself. While sometimes it takes some time before I recognize the hopefulness in helplessness, there have been moments when my first reaction is to run full speed to God wanting His protection and guidance. See, that's just it, the essence of a true Christian's faith, we have hope because we are helpless!! Knowing that I have Christ living in me and the Holy Father watching from above and the Holy Spirit always ready to guide me in the right direction, I can have nothing but hope. When our pride gets in the way, that's when things fall apart. We think that we can help ourselves and instead find that doing life on our own is just not the best way to a fulfilled heart and soul. By admitting helplessness, we open ourselves up to the most powerful agent in the Universe - GOD!! If living life in a manner of helplessness means that I can instead rely on the love and guidance of my Creator to light my way, then all I can do is surrender and thank God for His presence in my life.
I hope you'll consider joining me on this journey of reflection and engagement with the Word and with Christ. I think that if anything is going to help me feel more organized and put together, it's going to be the presence of God.
Parting prayer: Lord, I surrender to you and admit that I am helpless and cannot do this on my own. No matter what I try, I fail at being places on time, doing things early, maintaing a neat house, among so many other things that only You know. Please lead me and guide me this month in my journey to recapture the "first love" feeling of following and knowing you. - Amen