The Fence of Pride, Arrogance, and Ignorance

You might be the one to…step into the role, accept the position, complete the task. Yet you might not be the one.

Why do you say yes or no to something?

We build fences that keep us from walking the very ground God intends us to cover, because we’re too proud, arrogant, or ignorant to consider, acknowledge, and accept where God wants us to go. We tear down fences that are intended to keep us from walking the ground God doesn’t intend for us to cover, because we’re too proud, arrogant, or ignorant to consider, acknowledge, and accept where God wants us to remain.

It’s God’s job to build and tear down fences, not ours. Anytime we do the building or tearing down, we should be cautioned to attend to where we are and where we should be.

wood-slip-boardWe think we should be able to decide where God wants or doesn’t want us to be. We even try to convince others we know where they should or shouldn’t be. If there’s a gap in what needs to get done, we think we know who should step up, because (1) someone has to step up or else it won’t get done, or (2) we see how the person and the task would perfectly fit together. Even if what we assume is consistent with God’s direction, we need to ask for his instruction first. Jumping in to provide a quick fix might seem to fix the problem, but if it’s not the way God wanted it to be fixed, another problem will soon follow. What seems to fit to us isn’t always God’s best fit. We can have God’s confirmation in less than a blink-of-an-eye…and when it doesn’t come that quickly, we’re wise to patiently wait.

On the other hand, we can excuse ourselves from responding by saying we’re waiting on God’s instruction when we’re not fully committed to hearing God’s instruction. We’re fairly certain we’re not supposed to respond, but we’ll wait it out in case God says differently. But are we actively waiting or passively waiting? There’s a difference. We always need to be active in our relationship with God, no matter where and at what pace he has us.

What fences are you building or tearing down on your own, apart from God’s instruction?

Whether you think you’re too good or not good enough to do something or whether you simply don’t recognize something that’s supposed to be on your radar, be cautious. Be sensitive to God’s leading. He wants you to walk every step of the territory he has purposed for you. Don’t explore where you shouldn’t be or place limits on where you should go.

After Lot left, the Lord said to Abram, “Look all around you—to the north and south and east and west. All this land that you see I will give to you and your descendants forever.I will make your descendants as many as the dust of the earth. If anyone could count the dust on the earth, he could count your people. Get up! Walk through all this land because I am now giving it to you.” (Genesis 13:14-17)

A Slower Pace

©2015 PurePurpose.org
©2015 PurePurpose.org

As we hiked, I couldn’t keep up the pace I could have managed years before. I wasn’t used to the altitude, combined with the slippery upward slope. I toted my camera and paused often, either to take a break or take a photo. Instead of focusing on the pace I couldn’t manage, I focused on the one I could manage. And that pace invited me to see, hear, and experience the hike in a way I would have missed with a quicker pace.

I paused to allow my heart rate to slow. As my heart rate became steady, I savored the quiet that comes along with a snowy day on a lightly-traveled trail high in the mountains. More than my heart rate became steady. It was as if my soul took a deep breath and reset with tranquility. More than the air was crisp, clean, and clear. So was my mind and my heart.

Instead of getting discouraged that I couldn’t do what I once had and might not have again, I took a step back and enjoyed what I had in front of me. As I did, I realized how important being present in the present truly is in the pursuit of God’s peace and provision.

After all, I need to accept what He provides today, or I’ll miss out.

Search, Don’t Sulk

We planted a new tree this Spring.

toesWell, actually, someone else planted it for us. To let them know exactly where we wanted it, we painted an “X” with a large circle around it, so they’d know where to dig. We got a jumpstart on teaching our dog, Della, the tree would be off limits by pointing to the painted circle and firmly saying, “No!”

She was curious, but she listened. She walked around the circle, sniffing at the outer edge of the paint. Then she laid down to take a rest…placing the very tips of her front paws just outside the circle. She had a whole yard to play and rest in, and the area of the tree had never been one of her preferential areas. That day, it was.

Don’t we often do the same? We have an entire area where we can roam, run, enjoy, and rest, yet we go to “that one area.” (We’re not the first humans to do it. Remember Adam and Eve?) “No” seems to make us curious. Sure, we easily and willingly avoid some  “no’s,” but we all have some that seem to draw us near.

What are you getting dangerously close to? How are you rationalizing–perhaps asking yourself, “What could really be wrong with it?”

Instead of focusing on the “no” and thinking you’re missing out on something, open your eyes and look around. You are missing out on something. God doesn’t give you boundaries without giving you a lot of land to roam. Boundaries aren’t just to keep you out of some areas but to define the areas intended for you…areas that give you plenty of space, provision, and enjoyment.

Go ahead. Stand up. Look around. Enjoy what God has given you today!

What Time Is It?

time-in-your-handsThere is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

God’s Word declares there’s a time for birth, death, laughter, tears, silence, speaking, construction, destruction, and much more. You’ve experienced all these, and in many cases, you’ve experienced them time after time…but not necessarily at the time you preferred.

God chooses the time. We choose our response.

God created time. He knows how it all works together as it passes one moment at a time. We live within the constraints of time. Once a moment is gone, it’s gone. As we stress about the passing moment, more moments pass. God, on the other hand, is outside time, not limited by time. He lives in the right now as well as the near and distant past and the near and distant future.

God knows the timing of our lives and invites us to choose our response. We can be stubborn and self-focused, believing and behaving as if we can grasp onto time and do with it what we want. We can create our own schedules and to-do lists with the assumption we’re managing our own time. In reality, we’re only managing the time God gives us. We stand with open palms as God places each moment into our hands.

Don’t hold the moment too tightly; it will ooze out, and you will lose what God intended. Don’t hold it too loosely, or it will slip between your fingers, lost forever. God chooses time. Choose your response well with an outstretched palm.

Ask God to help you trust Him with the moments He’s giving you.

Time to Move

you-are-stuck-141When Jesus saw the man and knew that he had been sick for such a long time, Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be well?”

The sick man answered, “Sir, there is no one to help me get into the pool when the water starts moving. While I am coming to the water, someone else always gets in before me.”

Then Jesus said, “Stand up. Pick up your mat and walk.” And immediately the man was well; he picked up his mat and began to walk. John 5:6-9

We can sit right beside the source of our healing or growth and not access it. We might think we can’t. We focus on the limits instead of the possibilities. The man beside the water had an excellent location for healing but was still sick. He didn’t know how to access healing. He thought his limitations would stop him from accessing the water and healing. Then he encountered Jesus, who has no limits.

God doesn’t exist within our limits. To him, all things are possible, but all things aren’t probable. He is not limited, but he has limits because he sets them himself. He will not do everything even though he can because he knows the best choice and timing for every situation and person. Our unlimited God responds within the limits of what is pure, true and noble. He will never do anything outside of his character. Of that we can be certain.

When have you let perceived limits stop you or hold you back?

When has God shown you a limit that led to growth?

We don’t always get our way. It’s a good thing, because we’d be spoiled brats. God sometimes allows us to get a taste or glimpse of what we think we want. We can do this his way or choose our own way…and eventually get back to his way because we (hopefully) realize our way was inferior from the beginning. His way is best. He knows the best limits to set although the possibilities for him are limitless.

Live It. Jot a list of every area in which you currently feel limited. Cross off anything on the list over which you believe God has no control. Circle everything else, and spend time in prayer, intentionally giving each one to God, trusting him to set the best limits for you in each area. Step out in faith, trusting his timing and provision.

Fit Faith: Health: Open Air Therapy

Several years ago, my husband and I started walking together. We had tried many times before that, but I wasn’t a very good walking partner. I liked to power walk, and I didn’t have much patience for anyone who wanted to stroll. I was on a mission, and my focus was on a good workout, which I defined as pushing myself physically. Walking didn’t have anything to do with anyone else but myself.

Then I made a concession. I would go for my walk and push my limits. When I was done, I’d go for another, shorter walk with Tim. It was a compromise we could both live with. The focus began to shift from the walk to the time we got to spend together. We talked about our days. We talked about our daughters. We talked about anything that was on our minds.

As we grew accustomed to walking together, we adjusted again. Instead of waiting until I got home from a walk, Tim would text me when I’d been gone for a while to find out if I was ready for a walking buddy. I rarely said no, even if I hadn’t been walking long, because I looked forward to walking with him. It wasn’t so much about me as it was about the time I got to spend with my husband.

Being able to walk and talk occasionally invited topics that spurred disagreements. That’s going to happen between two married people! Disagreements when walking, however, had a different tone. We were walking side-by-side, and as we’d work through the conflict toward a resolution, we avoided much antagonism, because we were headed in the same direction. We walked and talked it out.

The occasional disagreement and more frequent sharing took on a therapeutic effect. We were spending time together. It didn’t matter if we were talking about our relationship or things that impacted each of us as individuals, we were growing together. We still are.

We’re not in a regular routine of walking together, but we miss it when we go very long without it. We know we can spend time together in many other ways, but there’s something special about our walks – so much so that many times I don’t insist on a walk before our walk. He walks a bit faster, I walk a bit slower, and that’s okay with me. I’m just glad to be by his side, listening to his heart.

Health isn’t just about the physical. That’s often the focus, and it was certainly my main focus when determined to walk fast and far. However, there’s an emotional and relational health benefit I was missing and have been able to infuse into my walks as Tim has joined me. The physical benefits become secondary.

How do you compartmentalize your health?

How and when do you sacrifice one aspect of your health for another?

My child, pay attention to my words; listen closely to what I say. Don’t ever forget my words; keep them always in mind. They are the key to life for those who find them; they bring health to the whole body. (Proverbs 4:20-22)

Surround yourself with healthy relationships. Let them infuse health into many other areas of your life. Let God’s perspective invade your perspective. Let his words nourish you so that you know where he wants you to be when and with whom. He will help correct your focus if it’s misguided, and he’ll impact everything in your life when you develop a healthy relationship with him.

“No” Your Limits

I suppose I could have kept my eyes open a little longer. But I was sleepy, and the sun was so warm, and everything on my list of things to do could honestly wait. So I relinquished…and took a short nap. How refreshing!

Sometimes I push myself too hard, ignoring limits. Yet there are also times my limits are marked with a huge red flag. When I see the flag looming ahead, I stop.

According to http://www.merriam-webster.com/, a limit is “something that bounds, restrains, or confines.” What limits you? Create a list.

  • When does fear limit you?
  • What types of emotions limit you?
  • How does money, location, transportation limit you?
  • What relationships limit you?
  • How does “baggage” limit you?

There are situations in which a limit is placed in our path as a warning to take another route, proceed with caution, or cease pursuing that direction altogether. But sometimes we use limits as an excuse to stop, pause, or retreat. Sometimes, limits are a test of our perseverance.

I try to be too self-sufficient sometimes. Okay, a lot of times. The fact is my limits aren’t limits at all, because I know God, who has no limits. Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” (Mark 10: 27) I’m only limited by my stubbornness to rely on my own strength, courage, and perseverance. I get worn out and can easily give up!

Take a look at your list of limits. Circle the items beyond God’s limits. You can keep those things on your list of definite “no-can-do” limits. Cross off the items that are not beyond God’s limits. My guess is, you’ll be drawing a few lines on your paper!

Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. – John 3:33-35