I sat in the front row of my 8th grade math class and squinted at the chalkboard. A total blur. I had to face it. I needed glasses.
I’ll never forget the moment I put on my glasses for the first time. WOW! A different perspective entirely! I had no idea the details of life I had missed. They were there all the time, but I literally could not see them.
Glasses and contacts made a huge difference. Trees had leaves. Shapes had sharp edges. Colors were more vibrant. And, oh yeah, I could see in math class.
That worked great for about 35 years. But now I have another problem. As my eyeballs have aged, they have given me 2 choices:
- I can see far away (with my contacts).
- Or I can see up close (without contacts).
It was one perspective or the other—until my optometrist gave me a really weird solution.
You and I have the same challenge spiritually.
After my grandfather died years ago, I planted an oak tree in his memory in our front yard. The skinny stem stood only 8 feet tall (like Granddad did). I planted it on a windy day.
(By Almonroth. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
A few hours later, my neighbor hollered: “Hey, Wayne, your tree was really leaning over in the wind!” I grabbed the trunk and slightly bent the tree over. The whole base moved, because it had no root system yet. So I staked it down.
Two years later when I bent the tree, the base didn’t move. But you know what? The tree looked the same. No visible change. Its goal for its first two years was its roots, not its limbs and leaves.
That little sprig offers a contrast (and a lesson) to you and me.
The strength of a man’s virtue must not be measured by his efforts, but by his ordinary life.
It’s always easier to react to life rather than to shape it. To go with the flow rather than to dig a new trench. Obviously, we want to respond well to what life throws at us. It’s assumed we should do that.
But I believe God gives us help to choose the direction of our lives. To live intentionally for Him. I don’t mean we choose what happens to us, but rather, that God has given us the freedom to make significant choices in spite of our circumstances.
Jesus’ example shows us what choices to make to live intentionally for God.
Two questions can help us do that.
Okay, let’s make a quick list. If you had to write down what you need, what would top your list? Let me take a stab at what you might write.
(Photo: courtesy of ooomf)
If you’re like most folks, your list of what you need may read something like this:
- I need a new iPhone, Android, techie-whatever.
- I need more money and more time.
- I need my spouse to listen to me.
- I need more respect at work.
- I need a friend.
What DO you need? Ask that question to ten different people, you’ll likely get eleven different answers. But your needs aren’t subjective.
God has revealed what you need.
A euphemism is a nice way of saying something unpleasant. We’ll say: “He’s under the weather,” or “She passed away,” or “I misspoke,” when really we mean to say he’s sick, she died, and I lied.
I’ve never found a good euphemism for a lazy person. Maybe slacker. At best we have a few obscure expressions—lounger, laggard, drone—but these work only because we don’t know what they mean. And if we did, we’d wish we didn’t.
A lot of what I’ve learned about what’s best to do in life has come from observing mistakes. Even though a slacker would never have the self-discipline to give a lecture, we can receive a whole course of study simply by observing his or her lazy life.
Here are several key lessons we can learn from Mr. Lazybones that will keep us motivated from becoming lazy.
I forgot the birthday of a good friend. After I looked back at my calendar, I saw the problem. I neglected to set up a reminder for the important day. We overlook significant things in our lives often because of our busyness—not because of our apathy.
It’s no different in our relationship with God.
Whether we use string on a finger, a Post-it Note on the mirror, or an auto-reminder on our smartphones, we all need prompts for what we’d otherwise forget.
Unaware as it happens, we can allow our busy lives to crowd out our devotion to God. We enjoy our families, our homes, our food, our salvation—all of God’s blessings to us. But before we know it, we replace a devotion to the Lord with a devotion to His blessings.
And in a sad, twisted irony, those blessings become our focus instead of the God who gave them.
You’re going to stay busy. I get it. So let me share with you 5 ways you can remember God in your busy life.
I’ve noticed an unsettling habit in my life. Whenever I find myself with a free moment, I feel compelled to fill it with something productive.
Because I hate to waste time, I fill it with activity and justify it as productivity. But I’m learning that constant movement doesn’t represent efficiency.
It could, moreover, represent just the opposite.
As with every other part of the human experience, Jesus remains our model of efficiency. But His life—even before the cross—was no easy walk:
- The demands on Him were constant.
- The needs He faced were overwhelming.
- The expectations He encountered were unrealistic.
No person was ever more qualified to do it all, and yet Jesus took life in the fast lane in stride.
What was His secret?
We start strong. Determination and strength come easily. Faithfulness flows from our hearts.
Then life happens. We didn’t plan to grow cold spiritually. But we did.
Somehow, we can wake up after a number of years and discover that our lack of passion for God has gradually shifted Him away from our hearts. We then find ourselves living in the ruins of once-vibrant spiritual lives.
How does this happen? By forgetting this one thing.
A father walked into the room to see his young son with his hand inside an expensive vase. The boy explained that he had dropped a penny in the vase. Now his hand was stuck.
The dad tried everything to free his son’s hand, but it was no use. It was wedged tight. Finally, the father grabbed a hammer to break the vase.
“Wait, Daddy!” the frightened boy said. “Would it help if I just let go of the penny?”
That story shows more than the mind of a naïve child. It illustrates the baffling priorities we cling to—no matter how old we get.
You know what I mean. We often find ourselves at the breaking point of something valuable because we refuse to release something trivial. We cling to our pennies and break our vases.
And very often, those vases are our relationships.