Should You Stay or Should You Go Now?

move-on-breakupIf anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that house or town. (Matthew 10:14)

When have you had to walk away from a situation, at least for a season?

When have you been able to reconcile a strained relationship or misunderstanding?

When have you been hurt by rejection?

 

We often use today’s verse as justification for moving on, and moving on is important at times. When we are in an unhealthy situation, we need to move on. There are times, we get to go back, when we are healthy enough to deal with the situation with new coping strategies, but that’s not “going back” as much as “moving forward” with new tools.

In this verse, we often focus on the “if anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet,” leaving the rest of the sentence hanging. The word when stands out to me. It indicates that perhaps there is purpose in not leaving immediately at times. If we were always to leave immediately, wouldn’t it finish with “and go immediately from that house or town”?

Only God can help us discern when to stay and when to go. Again, it we’re being hurt or threatened, we need to move on and get to a safe place, but this situation is a little different. It refers to the situations in which we are trying to share Jesus’ story with others. It doesn’t say we try once and give up. It also clearly doesn’t say we stay an unlimited amount of time and keep trying. But when we discern the best time to leave, we shake the dust off our feet, which means we move on without any regrets or hindrances. We focus on the next house or town. Who is to say God won’t have us loop back to that house or town later, but for the season, we need to move on. There is something ahead that needs our focus, and if we live in the guilt and regrets of “what if I had said something differently,” we’ll miss out on our next opportunity. When we follow Him well, we do so with our whole heart, embracing when and for how long He tells us.

 

Set your phone alarm to every hour today. When it goes off, ask if you are where God wants you to be. Adjust as He guides throughout the day.

The Skill of Worry

7vp44vnyvs_fill_in_the_____God doesn’t want us to worry, because He wants us to rely on Him. In Matthew 6, we’re given reasons for why we should worry about food, drink, and clothes; in a nutshell, “God’s got this.” There are a lot of people around the world who are genuinely concerned about food, drink, and clothes; most of us don’t fit into that category. We have plenty. But we still worry about something: family, health, job security, retirement, bills, transportation, and so on.

So, today is a fill-in-the-blank lesson on worry. Perhaps the lesson is more about releasing worry and trusting God to take care of us in His way and timing. I’m including the basic structure of the end of Matthew 6. Think about what you would put in the blanks.

Don’t worry about your life, what you will ___________________; or about your body, what you will _________________. Isn’t life more than __________ and the body more than ___________? … Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? And why do you worry about ___________? … So don’t worry, saying, “______________?” or “_____________?” or “______________?” But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25,27-28a,31,33-34)

The Rest of Sabbath

128983854_8963f7d9fcAbout a month ago, I had a fuller-than-usual Sunday planned.
I try to set aside as much time as possible on Sundays. It’s not about a legalistic practice for me (although there have been some times in my life that was true). It’s about rest, a retreat, a Sabbath, a set aside time to intentionally steep in God’s presence, letting Him recharge me and prepare me for whatever is next.
But sometimes, I have responsibilities that need my attention on a Sunday. This was one of those days. The commitment took a three-hour block out of the middle of the afternoon, but I had peace about serving. It was important, not just to me, but to others. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make.
I still focused on rest as much as I could every minute that wasn’t scheduled. And at the end of the day, I glanced back and realized the vast amount of rest, reading, and journalling that would normally not fit into a day if I had nothing else scheduled, let along fitting it between this and that.
A Sunday overflowing with Sabbath. Even in the midst of some busyness.
Only God.
He meets us in the chaos when we’re willing to still ourselves.

Why Ask Questions?

Few things can be more frustrating than someone asking a question, then spending more time telling his or her own thoughts, or explaining the answer he or she already knows, instead of listening. If the asker is a teacher, it’s okay, even expected. But in everyday life, everyday conversation, everyday relationships, it seems condescending, insensitive, and rude.

A question should be an invitation to share and discover. Listening is difficult. It takes patience. But we learn in the patience of listening. We get to know the person. We better understand his or her perspective, so we’re better able to share what we think, ask follow-up questions, and encourage the person. And we show respect.

When we ask God questions, how patient and attentive are we? How much do we try to talk through the answer? Do we pause or do we fill space?

He certainly wants to hear what’s on our minds, but He also wants to answer our questions…in His timing and wisdom, of course.

Are You Living Up To Your Potential?

Being capable and actually doing something are two different things.

I listened to someone’s plans and wanted to say,

“I know you can. But I don’t know if you will.”

I didn’t actually say it. (I’m usually thankful when I engage my filter.) I was fairly confident it wouldn’t be received in the way I meant it. I had full confidence of the person’s ability. I didn’t want to ebb away what confidence she had. I wanted to build her up. At the same time, I didn’t want to give her false confidence. Just because she’s capable of doing well doesn’t mean she’ll apply herself, approach challenges humbly, learn from disappointments and failures, and persevere. She can but only time will tell if she will.

Isn’t that the truth with all of us?

God equips us with so much. The gifts He gives us are abundantly sufficient to accomplish what He intends for us. But what accomplishments He plans for us might not be our perfect idea of accomplishments. What He knows is sufficient can seem inadequate when we face challenges. His gifts might seem to be misfits for us. We prefer to do things our own way, with our own sense of comfort or adventure, our own definitions of our successes, failures, and progress, and our own timelines.

If we’re going to actually do the thing God purposes for us, we’re going to have to trust that He has made us capable. More accurately, He is in the process of making us capable. We have to take the step of faith beyond believing we are capable into action steps into His purpose and plan. It is only then that we find true, sufficient satisfaction.