Wednesday, December 12, 2012

get your eyes off yourself!

There are moments in life where truth hits you over the head like a jackhammer.  Chiseling away the lies you believe, the layers of dust and plank that threaten to cloud one's vision.  Last night I tucked my  older two into bed layering them in warm blanket and prayer.  It's these late night conversations that often mean the most.   Spirit-led dialogue that dawns awareness and sheds light...into their lives, and also my own.  We ended the day, with the need for His brush of Truth to stroke and paint over the complaint and ingratitude that aimed to smear the final picture of our day.  Wasn't it just a post or two ago I mentioned, "ingratitude goes right through me?"  That seeing this ugly beast emerge out of the hearts of my children angers and frustrates me and brings out the "wrath of mom?"

Perhaps it's time I've taken a closer look from within.  They learn what they live, don't they?

As we talked last night, I mentioned to my oldest that we need to pull out the blessings of our lives and have hearts of gratitude.  That instead of thinking about the one or two things that went wrong in a day, we need to focus on all the right of our day.  Surely, it is filled with gifts.

I woke up this morning with Philippians 2:14 on the tip of my tongue.  Where the bitter frost of my own wrongdoing covered the window of my heart.  And He spoke.  With a love and compassion that gently scraped and melted all that left my heart cold and without clear view.

"Do everything without complaining or arguing..."

Oh, have I ever failed in this area.  Anyone who reads this blog has a picture of what our lives have been this past year...the past 2, 3 years.  God has mightily been at work in my heart and has brought me closer to Him and my knowledge of Him than ever before.  Words are inadequate to describe the gift this has been to me.  Yet, this morning I awoke with a heart full of conviction and sorrowful repentance.  Hands-down, I could win a reward..."Complainer of the Year."  

Lately, with the work He's been doing within, and with the belief button switched upward, I've become more aware of my imperfections, my skewed perspective on various areas of my life, and the ways I've fallen short in this journey.  He's pointed them out...not with judgment, wrath, or condemnation.  But rather with kindness, gentleness, and compassion.  A mercy undeserving.

I've been no different that the Israelites in the desert, quick to forget His faithfulness and provision.  Griping about meat, when everything I've hungered for to sustain and be well-fed has been freely provided.  Heaven's bread falling before me, ready to be gathered.  Begging to go back into slavery and distrusting what good He had laid out before us.  His parting of the Red Sea all but a blur or a distant fairytale.  A Deliverer?  How could I not remember.  I've complained my way through this journey one dry and parched footstep after the other.  To Him, to myself, to my family, and to my friends.  Such a slow learner.  And yet, He's been patient.  And faithful.  And good. Always.  Moments I've cried out to Him feeling forgotten, He's always reminded me that He was near.  When He could have cried back, "No child, you're the one who's forgotten me!"  I wonder how long I've kept myself in the desert, away from my promised land, because of this.  Sometimes, what you believe becomes what you live.  And what you become. Your reality is often shaped by who you come into agreement with...Are you believing God, or are you believing the enemy of your soul?  Believe the enemy and you'll get what he wants for you.  Believe God and you'll get what He wants for you. Seems like a no-brainer, yet I've allowed my eyes to focus inward, on the lies, on the self-pity, on the complaining...and then I've seen myself living in it.  My reality.  An ungrateful one.

There are many areas in my life where I have failed, and I feel ashamed, yet thankful that He hasn't left me here in the dark to wallow in my self-induced pity.  I've allowed myself to stay there from time to time.  Shame on me. See, the thing about complaining is that it takes one down a dangerous road.  That mindset of ingratitude stains a heart and threatens to leave it in a pit.  A murky, sticky, life-sucking one.  But we have a choice.  I'm choosing agreement with God.  In His commands, His promises, and His ways.  I'm excited to see how my life and my heart will take shape from here on out.

As I searched for this verse in my Bible this morning, I found my own handwriting in the margin that penned, "Get your eyes off yourself and onto God."  Ouch.  How can we have such moments of blindness?  And how this must have pained Him so.  Each moment I've complained about my circumstance has been a discredit to the God who has already done so much for me.  It's as if I have written off all He's loved, sacrificed, and given...and thrown it into a trash pile.  Unimportant.  Unworthy of noting or keeping.  All the while, asking for more, more, more.  When the One thing He's already given has been (and will always be) my more than enough.  Jesus.

I have not been the picture of grace.  I've been self-absorbed.  My constant complaining has been more than's been sin.  I want to live this life thankful for all I've been given.   I want to love this life He's given me.  Every breath of it a gift.  This family, this country, this generation I've been placed in.  Too many freedoms, riches, and blessings to ignore.  That in this huge galaxy of many vast galaxies, the spec of my life matters to Him.  Yet, I have given Him a spec of thanks in return.  

LORD, increase my awareness of You.  Increase my fear, and awe, and reverence for You.  Increase my love for You and others.  Increase my wisdom and knowledge of You.  Increase my faith.  And increase my vision.  Stain this heart with gratitude overflowing..."so that I may become blameless and pure, a child of God without fault in a crooked and deprived generation, in which I shine like a star in the universe as I hold out the word of life." (Philippians 2:15-16)

The Message reads:
"Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing."

Lord, I fix my eyes on You.  On what is unseen versus seen.  Thank you for the work You have been doing in me and in my circumstances.  Even when I haven't been able to see it, You've been behind the scenes in Your perfect way, with Your perfect plan.  Thank You that You are still at work.  You led us here because of Your love. You've used the "hard" because You saw no better way to bring us closer to You.  This path has been the right one for us.  A divine road paved by You.  May I have an aggressive heart that waits on You in full expectation as Your plan for me and my family unfolds.  May I never second-guess You.  Let my life be a breath of fresh air, providing people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.  Let my life have meaning, that shows Your good work.  LORD, forgive me.  Shine through me.

Thank You.  Thank You.  Thank You.
Give thanks to the LORD for He is good.  His love endures forever!