Thursday, May 31, 2012

Conditional Obedience. Unconditional Love.

Remember how back in January, I made the commitment to clean out my coat closet? Then when I finally bit the bullet and did it, I was so proud and so motivated to keep going and clean out all of my other closets? Yeah, well, do you want to know what zaps motivation to clean for this girl? The lure of a Sunday afternoon nap...A new season of The Voice...spring weather...a thousand and fifty-two trips home in the last thousand and fifty-three weeks. Pretty much anything and everything. I do love a good distraction. BUT, last Friday after a 4 a.m. wake-up call and quick trip to the airport for breakfast with a friend passing through town, I gave myself a pep talk all the way back up Hwy. 316 that I was going to do something productive with the rest of my day. Good news: my pep talk worked. I worked my little fingers to the bone all last weekend and I put that gas-guzzling truck that I'm currently driving around town to good use with multiple trips to the dumpster and trips to Goodwill. I have no idea how one person can accumulate so much stuff over the years. It's ridiculous. These first-world problems sure are tough. [insert eye roll at my own consumerism here]

At some point on Saturday, I discovered a bright green folded up piece of paper in the middle of this madness:
 [Side note: Cash was less than enthused to share his floor.]

On said green piece of paper, I had written four Oswald Chambers quotes and James 1:4.

"We are apt to imagine that if Jesus Christ constrains us, and we obey Him, He will lead us to great success. We must never put our dreams of success as God's purpose for us; His purpose may be exactly the opposite."

"If we have a further end in view, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present: if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious."

"Many of us are all right in the main, but there are some domains in which we are slovenly. In numberless ways God will bring us back to the same point over and over again until we learn the lesson because He is producing the finished product."

"Wait on God and He will work, but don't wait in spiritual sulks because you cannot see an inch in front of you. ... To wait is not to sit with folded hands, but to learn to do what we are told."

James 1:4 - "But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."

I have no idea when I made these notes or what the inspiration behind it was, but clearly, the information is timeless or maybe just maybe I should pay particular attention to quote #3. Throughout the remainder of the weekend, I kept going back to the piece of paper and re-reading the quotes. Then I started thinking. Ugh, I hate it when I think.

I started thinking about how conditional my obedience to God is. I'm not making excuses for my behavior or placing blame on parenting tactics, but as little people we are essentially trained that if we behave in a positive way, then we will receive a treat or reward. Which begs the question, what expectation is created? Obedient children or a life filled with rewards? While this approach may certainly have benefits, we cannot transfer this way of thinking over to our relationship with our heavenly father. [And by "we", I mean "I"] Why not? Doesn't Scripture teach us that when we delight in the Lord, he gives us the desires of our hearts? Or if we ask in His name, then it will be given unto us? Confession: I spend far too much time focusing on the last parts of those verses than I do on the first parts. What does delighting in the Lord really look like? Or asking things in His name? Probably not pouting and sulking when things don't go according to our plan.

Far too often I approach God as a child approaches Santa at Christmas. I say that I've been a good girl because I get up and go to church even when I am sleepy, I tithe, I read my Bible, I say my prayers. So then I present my requests with nary a thought or consideration as to what my life would really look like if I got all of those things that I asked for. Notice the common pronouns there? How possessive and HP-centric can a girl be? Just as my parents used discernment in not giving me every single thing on my Christmas list, God in Heaven uses discernment too. Discernment that protects. Discernment that provides. Discernment found in unconditional love for his conditionally obedient children.

"Not my will, but yours be done." ...May this be our prayer.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It's all a blur.

It's mid-May. Did this happen while I was sleeping? I really for the life of me cannot figure out where this year has gone. Nor can I figure out for the life of me why I sound like an 82 year old woman by writing about time and how it's passing so quickly. Well, at least I'm having fun.

Since I blogged last, we've celebrated Easter...

[We missed Justin at the Easter celebration.]

Celebrated Cash's 4th birthday...

[No, he didn't get cake. Yes, he's still crazy energetic.]

Celebrated Micah's 14th birthday...

[How did that little baby boy in orange grow up to be 14 already? Wasn't it just my freshman year of college when I was getting a page on my pager [stop laughing, you know non-drug dealers had pagers in the late 90's] from mom and dad with the "in labor, headed to hospital" code? [Again, enough with the 82 year old woman talk.]

Celebrated a marriage...

Celebrating Adam and Valerie's wedding was super fun...

Celebrated treasured friendships...

[I do not know why this picture is life size. In fact, I think it's larger than life size. Just focus on Baby E. who is impossibly adorable.]

For more photo evidence of the aforementioned fun, hop on over here.

We also celebrated Mother's Day, and I do love my mama very, very much. She was down with the sickness on Mother's Day though so I expressed my love by throwing a sleeve of saltines and can of Sprite and cold washrags to her from the hallway outside of her bedroom door. Clearly I'm not a mom yet or my nurture gene would have been a little, nurturing.

In other news I also registered for a half-marathon. Yep. I'm committed. If I pay muchos pesos for a registration fee, I'm going to do it. I must have been under the influence of a runner's high when I registered because sitting here at my desk in the cool air-conditioned controlled climate, I am dreading this afternoon's run and totally second guessing that decision. At least I have until December to mentally prepare. Yes, it's in December and I registered for it in April. There's a 96% chance I'll forget that I even registered for it by race day.

Ok, that's all for now. Maybe in another 5 weeks or so I'll be back with completely unsolicited commentary on things like my current favorite songs, summer television shows, or something as equally nonsensical and dullsville.