Christianity 201

October 7, 2015

The Wisdom of Margin

Today’s devotional thoughts by Alicia Bruxvoort are actually the second half of a longer piece which appeared at the devotional page of Proverbs 31 Ministries. This was a new website for us, and some of you might want to spend some time there, in which case click the title below to read the full post and then look around.

Those of you who are presently parenting children or have children in your care will especially appreciate this and may wish to read the longer version, and those of you who are past the parenting phase or never had kids will no doubt still understand the analogy.

 clock spiral
“Teach us to number our days so that we may truly live and achieve wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
(The Voice)

…In an attempt to give my kids opportunities to learn and grow, I’d packed our days with good things — art classes and swimming lessons, church programs and playgroups. But lately, even those good things had lost their glimmer. Our schedule was full, but my heart ached with emptiness.

When we arrived at the aquatic center, I settled on the edge of the pool to watch. The instructor stood in the water and beckoned Lizzy to swim to his side.

My daughter took a deep breath, dunked her head and kicked with all her might. At first she moved toward her teacher with impressive speed, but then she began to flail. Her torso sank and she yelped in fear.

The teacher lifted my trembling girl out of the water and held her steady. “Slow down,” he chided as Lizzy gulped for air. “You were moving so fast you forgot to breathe!”

The image of a fuzzy orange caterpillar flashed through my mind, and my stomach lurched with conviction. Though a haze of unsolicited tears blurred my vision, suddenly I could see clearly.

In the midst of all our hurry, I’d forgotten to leave time for our souls to breathe. We had no time for lingering on sidewalks or pausing to help a friend in need. We had no time for delighting in God’s Word or savoring a sunset. And in the words of a frenzied mom, we had no time for miracles!

Today’s key verse reminds us that life is a gift to use wisely. We’ve been created for more than just counting our days. We’ve been created to make our days count.

To merely tally time doesn’t require much forethought, but to truly live requires Spirit-inspired wisdom. Maybe that’s why the psalmist approaches God with a humble heart and implores, “Teach us to number our days …”

While the Bible doesn’t contain a template for perfect time management, this simple prayer reminds us that God alone knows the best rhythm for our lives. He knows how to direct our time without draining our souls. He knows how to establish our pace without hurting our hearts.

If we want to truly live, we must seek His vision as we set our schedules.

As we learn to number our days, we’ll have a margin for miracles … because you never know when you might stumble upon a fuzzy orange caterpillar just waiting to turn into a butterfly!

Dear Lord, teach me how to use my time so I can truly live! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 52:12, “Go in confidence and grace — no rushing, no frantic escape. There’s no need to be anxious — the Eternal One goes before and behind you. The God of Israel paves the way with assurance and strength. He watches your back.” (The Voice)

Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you too.” (The Voice)

RELATED RESOURCES:
If your schedule leaves no room for lingering over caterpillars, you might enjoy Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day. In it, author Glynnis Whitwer helps you manage an overloaded schedule, so you have time for what matters most.

Visit Alicia Bruxvoort’s blog for more encouragement.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Identify someone whose heart is hurting from hurry. Do something this week to lighten her load.

Have an honest conversation with the Lord about your schedule. Ask Him to help you align your agenda with His heart.

March 17, 2011

Extreme Makeover — Soul Edition

No specific text today, but you’ve already taken care of that already, right?  I wanted to use this anyway because I really liked what it said.  This is by Murray Wittke who blogs at All The Days of my Life, where it appeared earlier this month under the title Soul Surgery.

They call it medical tourism or vacation makeovers.  This unique sector of the travel industry involves flabby, saggy, and droopy adults being pampered in exotic and sunny destinations while they recover from tummy tucks and surgery to lift and tighten the neck, face, brow, and breasts.  Just imagine with me, a Mediterranean Villa nestled on a hillside with a spectacular view of the ocean and overlooking groves of Orange trees.  There’s a warm breeze blowing and there in your own private garden, on a deck chair beside a pool, you’re relaxing in the sunshine.  Hidden from view no one sees the surgical tape, the black eyes, the puffy face, or the bruises. You simply return from vacation to a chorus of compliments from friends and family about  How good you’re looking!

Recently I’ve had a similar experience, my own vacation makeover, but in a lot colder location.  This winter I’ve spent a total of five weeks away in Fort Saint John at a counseling course undergoing what I can only refer to as Soul Surgery.  I’ve returned looking much the same on the outside but very different on the inside.  I admit there’s still some puffiness around my eyes and my heart feels a bit tender but the surgery went well and I’m healing fast.  I now have a much healthier heart.  From now on my friends and family are going to be seeing a brand new me!

It’s hard to get a man to go to the doctor and I’ll confess I’m one of those men.  In November I went to the first module of a counseling course for my initial two week checkup.  I was aware of a few signs in my life that suggested there might be problems somewhere below the surface, but like many men I did a good job of minimizing their significance.  I’m sure you’ve heard it before or maybe even said it yourself  “Hey don’t worry about me, it doesn’t hurt that much, I’m fine… really!” You know the routine, stiff upper lip, be a man, just suck it up and soldier on, and then get busy helping people with real difficulties.

My visit revealed I was not as healthy as I thought I was.  I actually needed some serious work done in my heart.  I discovered there was painful infection lodged throughout my past.  Through the five weeks of the course I came to clearly see how my reaction to the pain in my heart was negatively affecting my current behavior and relationships.  I was not only living with pain but I was also guilty of unconsciously hurting others.

My surgery began with writing out and then talking about the difficult and painful stories from throughout my life.  I discovered some deep wounds that I’ve carried for many years.  Then with my friends helping me I set to work examining my style of relating to other people.  What I found out was not pleasant.  I had to acknowledge and accept some difficult truths about myself.  I had to honestly face the truth of how in my pain, my negative behavior had hurt others, especially those I love.  I then began the hard work of forgiving others for what was done to me, and the even harder work of forgiving myself.

Shame and sorrow are very real emotions but I came to realize that I could not stay there forever.  In hope I kept moving forward, but I’ve been surprised at how difficult dislodging longstanding infection of the heart can be.  Lastly I committed myself to the task of asking forgiveness from those I have hurt or negatively affected over the years.  This will take some time but it must be done.

I’m thankful for the loving support and encouragement of my fellow travelers, teachers, and counselors.  I’m grateful I have not had to go through Soul Surgery alone.  He who is called Wonderful Counselor has been with me and guided this whole process, and I realize He is not finished with me yet.

If you’ve noticed a bruise on your soul that refuses to heal, or a pain in your heart that won’t go away, or even a pattern of behavior that keeps causing you problems don’t ignore it and don’t keep putting it off, ask for help.  Life can be much better, trust me I know first hand.  I went and had my pain looked at, had the surgery,  and now that I’m feeling much better I’m looking forward to helping others find relief from the pain in their heart.  I like the sound of that, Murray Wittke Soul Surgeon.  Here’s to Healthy Hearts!

~Murray Wittke