What Really Matters

What really matters? The Lord has been showing me where my focus lies. And, in doing so, He is helping me to see what really matters to Him.

It really matters to Him that I walk closely with Him. In order to do that I need to be intentional about looking for Him in the daily. I need to be mindful of Him, seeking to know His presence.

When you walk with someone you stay near, often your steps are in cadence with one another. You share in the moments you walk. You check-in with the other and discuss the route you want to take. If one turns, the other follows after, because you desire to be together.

While walking there is often conversation involved. You share about life, you listen, and you reflect. On the route, you take notice of the things around you. You are present, looking and listening, you are aware of your surroundings.

But, I am realizing what really matters to me is more about selfish concerns. Do I have time for this? Do we have to go so slow? Is this the best route? Could we walk a little faster? My to-do list is only half done. Let’s not go that way, I don’t want to run into them and get tied up in a long conversation. Let’s not stop there now, I need to get somewhere. I need to get something done.

It’s as if I am telling the Lord, just follow me around and be there for me when I need you. After-all I have a schedule to keep, I have a lot to do. And He is showing me that what really matters to Him is the walking with, my being with Him. He wants me to really seek Him, to have my soul refreshed in the being together, and to learn from Him.

He doesn’t see that my completing the things on my to-do list as being the most important. But, all too often, I live as if they are, and everything else takes second place. In living with that mindset I focus on the doing and miss the being. And it is in the being, the being with, really being present, that is where the relationship takes place. And it is in the relationship we learn what really matters, we learn His unforced rhythms of grace for all of life. We can only learn that as we walk closely with Him and look how He is at work, what He is doing, and how we can join Him. We only learn that in the quiet times together, when we are ready to really listen.

The Lord knows us so much better than we know ourselves. He is showing me myself and in that, teaching me what really matters to Him. He is showing me where my focus is skewed and how my skewed focus leads me astray. He is showing me my selfishness. He is showing me how I focus on me and how everything affects me, and I miss so much else. The Lord wants me to focus fully on Him and trust Him to take care of me in the living of my life.

Actually, He is showing me some things I already know, but they are things that get lost in my day-to-day living as I fall back into old patterns. He makes His way clearer as I view my life through the lens of His Word, His promises, and His love.

The Lord calls us to come alongside, to find the cadence of His unforced rhythms of grace. The rhythms of grace are about His way, and when we go off-track, focusing on us, our own stuff, He calls us back. He calls us back repeatedly if necessary. It is in this calling back that we learn of His patient love.

As you look at your heart and life what do you see? Where is your focus? It isn’t always immediately apparent. Talk with Him about it. He will show you what He sees and He will show you what is important. He will show you what really matters.

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God’s Word Refreshes, He Restores our Souls

Do you ever feel defeated? Everything is going wrong. No matter what you try it seems things just don’t work out. You feel frustrated and at the edge of despair. And you are just ready to give up. Can anything else go wrong?

In Psalm 143:3 AMPC David says,

For the enemy has pursued and persecuted my soul, he has crushed my life down to the ground; he has made me to dwell in dark places as those who have been long dead.

David was at that place. He felt “crushed down” by the enemy. The enemy of our soul, Satan, desires to crush us to the point of despair and even unto death.

1 Peter 5:8 AMPC tells us,

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion. [in fierce hunger], seeking  someone to seize upon and devour.” (my emphasis) 

He wants to steal and destroy (John 10:10).  He wants to steal our hope and joy. He wants to steal the victory we have in Christ.

Sometimes God’s Word is given and you don’t even realize how much you need it,  or how much you will need it. A few weeks ago I was studying 1 Chronicles and read this:

What a friend we have in Jesus! The words from this hymn by Joseph Scrivener have a special place in my heart. Read them and be encouraged.

  1. “What a friend we have in Jesus,
    All our sins and griefs to bear!
    What a privilege to carry
    Everything to God in prayer!
    Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
    Oh, what needless pain we bear,
    All because we do not carry
  2. Have we trials and temptations?
    Is there trouble anywhere?
    We should never be discouraged—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Can we find a friend so faithful,
    Who will all our sorrows share?
    Jesus knows our every weakness;
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
  3. Are we weak and heavy-laden,
    Cumbered with a load of care?
    Precious Savior, still our refuge—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
    Take it to the Lord in prayer!
    In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
    Thou wilt find a solace there.
  4. Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
    Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
    May we ever, Lord, be bringing
    All to Thee in earnest prayer.
    Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
    There will be no need for prayer—
    Rapture, praise, and endless worship
    Will be our sweet portion there.”

Our Ally, Our Friend, Our Hope for every moment of every day. He restores my soul. May you find refreshment and restoration in Him today! He is our Light in this very dark world.

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Practicing Simplicity

Last week I shared about how I was learning soul freedom. Seeing my scatteredness and my many distractions more clearly has pushed me forward in practicing simplicity in my moments. It has encouraged me, even more, in walking with slow-feet in my days.

I have been greatly helped this past week by an online course I am taking. This wonderful course by Mary Gallagher is such a blessing. You can find it on her website Simple Life Simple Faith. The course is called Find Your Simple and it has led me in finding more focus in my life.

It seems that only a few words at the right time can make all the difference. The words I am referring to that resonated with me are these. “Everything isn’t meant for me. I must choose wisely.” Wise words by Mary Gallagher.

After reading, “Everything isn’t meant for me.” I had to ask myself what really is meant for me? It quickly became very clear to me that I only really want my everything to draw me to Jesus, that is what is meant for me as His daughter. Busyness does not do that. Busyness leaves me frantic and distracted. But, I am finding that slowness leads me back to Him throughout my day.

Practicing simplicity in my moments allows me space to breathe. When I stop multitasking and do one thing to completion, I find I am present in that one thing. I am available to His words and the Spirit’s nudges. As I went through my day yesterday, one thing at a time got checked off my to-do list. Running errands, raking leaves (it’s fall), making a vegetable salad with the tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers from our patio garden, cutting back dead flowers, reading a chapter in a book, working through four loads of laundry, folding each load as it was finished, taking a walk, and doing some yoga. I didn’t rush, and I didn’t feel overwhelmed.

What surprised me is that I found I had a spirit of gratitude in my heart throughout the day, (well, most of the day). Overall, I felt gratitude, not frustration. I enjoyed the process, and my joy in that overflowed with thankfulness to the Lord. Besides that, I found I didn’t end up with a bunch of loose ends when my day was over. My tasks were complete and there was order. And that filled me with a feeling of peace and satisfaction.

Focusing on the task at hand gave me space to think, to be mindful of the Lord’s presence, to talk with Him as the moments went by. Not my normal, frantic cries for help, out of frustation, but rather to just be with Him in my day.

I have found a lacking in my ability to concentrate and make good decisions in my rushing and busyness. It begins before I even get out of bed, when I am racing through the coming day in my mind. This crazy-thinking has led me away from my routines. When the day starts out with me thinking about twenty things at once, it is hard to begin the day focused on reading the Word and praying. My mind wanders, and thoughts scatter. I think about all I need to do. It is hard to keep my mind stayed on Him, and to know His peace within.

I recently found that it is helpful for me to write my prayers as letters to the Lord. That too is slow. I write whatever is on my heart. I write about the verses that come to mind as I “pray.” I write responses to what I have read or studied. I write about my feelings, my worries and concerns, and the needs of others as they come to mind. I go back every few days and read through my prayers to mark down His answers.

I wrote my prayers years ago, but this “letter writing” is more relational. Now it is just heart-scribbles in an old journal that lead to connection in the quiet of the morning and in the sleepiness of bedtime. And I am loving it! My soul is refreshed.

I can’t do everything. I must choose wisely what I can do in the given moments of my days. What will draw me to Jesus? I am finding that slowness leads to less fretting, and more gratitude and joy. Practicing simplicity in life gives me space for cultivating connection and creativity. These are good things.

Recalibrating life isn’t just for this year. The learning process will be ongoing. I learn, I try, I fail, I learn more, I try again and again. It amazes me how quickly I fall back into old patterns after I just learned an important truth for my life. But one day at a time, moment-by-moment, I keep trying, I keep learning.

What about you, are you practicing simplicity in your moments and in your days? What leads you back to Jesus as you move through your day?