A Full-Time Job

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For the past few weeks, I have renewed my effort to keep my house clutter under control. No more mail piling up on the dining room table. No more dishes sitting in the sink for hours. No more pulling clean clothes out of the laundry baskets because they’ve yet to be folded or hung up. Nope! I’ve been vigilant, and let me tell you, it’s like having another full-time job.

When we’re home, we’re HOME, and the house takes on a very “lived in” look. When we’re away, it’s typically for a longer trip involving luggage and coolers and other items that end up piled up in the entryway for a few days while I work up the energy to unpack and put everything back in its proper place. This being the case, every day consists of straightening, unloading and reloading the dishwasher, doing a load of laundry (from start to finish), wiping down the kitchen counters, etc. And some of these chores I do multiple times a day.  

Just last night, I was wiping down the counters for what felt like the fifteenth time that day, and all I could do was sigh. On the one hand, it’s been nice living in less clutter. It’s refreshing to walk out to the kitchen in the morning and not be greeted by a sink full of dishes and sticky counters. And, yes, it’s a joy not to have to sort through three baskets of clean laundry to find one pair of matching socks. I assure you I’m not a slob, and I love things orderly, but with health and time constraints, housekeeping takes a backseat around here. At least, it did, but no more. . .Lord willing.

The whole process reminds me of the effort it takes to keep my spiritual house in order. “One and done” doesn’t apply in caring for my spirit. Nope, it’s a lot of work. Before I go on, let me clarify I am not talking about salvation. We do not and cannot work for that. It is a free gift. I’m referring to what the apostle Paul was talking about in the book of Philippians.

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
— Philippians 2:12

Work out your own salvation.  In other words, you have it within you; now it’s time to let others see it. Bear some fruit. Share some love. Become more like Christ to the point where others want what you have. That’s a tall order and takes constant effort and awareness. Just as my housework requires daily attention, so does my spirit. It needs quiet time in prayer and the reading of God’s Word. It needs me to guard my mind and heart against that attacks of the enemy. My spirit requires me to wipe clean the worry and anxiety, sometimes multiple times per day. It’s a lot of work, but just like maintaining a clean home, it’s worth it.

Yes, there’s peace in a spirit that isn’t weighed down by fear and anxiety. There’s joy in a life that isn’t cluttered by guilt and ingratitude. It’s refreshing to walk through the storms of life and find you can still sing a song. And the only way that would be possible is by putting forth the time and effort day after day, week after week until that behavior becomes “the norm.” And even then, we can never grow complacent. Remember, our enemy is seeking whom he may devour. He loves it when we grow weary in trying to live right. He knows we’re easy prey at that point.

The best way to keep that from happening is to keep the end goal in mind. When I’m tempted to leave the dishes for later, I recall how good it feels to have a clean kitchen, and that prompts me to do what I know to do. The same works in our spiritual life. When we’re tempted to skip out on our daily time alone with God, if we’ll remember how refreshing it is to be filled with His spirit as we began our day, we won’t want to miss out on that.  In other words, don’t think about the work; think about the reward!

The Right Way to Respond to Weariness - A Repost

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Yesterday, I shared with you an older post discussing the wrong way to respond to weariness. Today, I’d like to share with you the follow-up to that devotion: The Right Way to Respond to Weariness. I want to talk with you about the right way to handle the overwhelm and disappointments of life.  Let's begin with John 4:1-42.

“When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. And many more believed because of his own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”

— John 1:1-42

I know that's a long passage, but I wanted you to see the entire story.  It helps to understand precisely how far Jesus went to step outside of his discomfort and reach out to others.  Verse six tells us plainly that Jesus was wearied with his journey.  He was tired and, no doubt, discouraged.  He had come to earth to minister to others, but it seems He made as many enemies as He did friends.  Many clung to His teachings while others cast Him out, claiming Him to be blasphemous and an imposter.  Day after day, He journeyed, fulfilling His mission to draw others to Him, and He was fatigued.

It's easy for us to overlook the fact that Jesus--though 100% God--was in a human body and therefore subject to all the same physical distress to which we are subject.  He got hungry, thirsty, tired, weary and so much more.  At this point in John 4, we see where He needed a rest.  He had been busy about His Father's business, and the effort had taken its toll on His physical body.  So, He stopped by the well in Samaria and rested while the disciples ran off to find some food.

At this point, the Samaritan woman enters the scene.  I could teach several lessons about her, but that will have to wait until another time.  For now, let me point out that she was coming to draw water in the middle of the day because she was a laughing stock among her people, particularly the other women.  To put it nicely, she wasn't of the utmost moral standing.  But that didn't hinder Jesus from reaching out to her and offering her what He had to give--Himself.

He could have ignored her.  After all, Jews didn't talk to Samaritans.  They didn't even like each other because of various disagreements between their peoples.  No one would have thought it odd for Jesus to dismiss her and focus on what He really needed, which was rest.  But Jesus knew the secret to dealing with weariness in the right way.  You don't lash out at others; you reach out to others.  And that's exactly what He did.

After a somewhat lengthy and personal dialogue, the woman comes to understand that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah.  Upon her realization, she drops her bucket and runs off to town to spread the news.  Interestingly enough, the disciples had just returned from town with some lunch, but there's no indication they spoke to anyone about Jesus.  They were busy meeting their own needs and dealing with their weariness.  In short, they were self-focused, much like the children of Israel were in our previous devotion.

Upon their return, they offered food to Jesus, but He calmly told them He had food of which they weren't aware.  In response to their confusion, He declared, "My meat is to do my Father's will."  In other words, "There's something much more important here than filling my stomach."  Jesus understood His body was weary, but He looked beyond Himself to see an entire village who was spiritually weary and discouraged.  

Ironically, the woman also looked beyond her own needs and risked the ridicule of the entire town by rushing off to tell her tale.  She didn't have to.  She could have kept the information to herself.  After all, with the way everyone treated her, they didn't really deserve an opportunity to meet the Messiah personally, did they?  Evidently, she never even considered such a thing.  She told everyone she could find and convinced them to travel with her back to the well to meet the Messiah for themselves.  Because of her faith and her decision to reach beyond her weariness, many in the city believed in Christ.  What a tremendous impact she had on the town that day!  I'd like to think people saw her in a different light after that.

Both Jesus and the woman displayed selflessness even in their moments of weariness.  They chose to look beyond themselves and their own needs and to reach out to help others.  And what each of them discovered was that their response was healing and restorative.  While they may have each still been physically tired, there was a new light in their eyes and spring in their step.  Their hearts were lightened when they chose to reach out instead of lash out.

What about you?  How will you respond the next time weariness and discouragement strike?  Will you complain, blame, exaggerate and express ingratitude as the children of Israel did, or will you reach out to others who may be weary as well?  The first will leave you miserable while the second will completely shift your perspective and give you a new reason for making the most of every situation.  Lash out or reach out?  The choice is yours!

The Wrong Way to Respond to Weariness - A Repost

I desperately wanted to write a devotional this morning, but for some reason, my mind wouldn’t cooperate. I had ideas, but none of them seemed like the right one for today. Typically, when I go through this writer’s block, it helps me to go back and read some of my older devotionals. Sometimes, it sparks an idea or confirms something I was already working on. And sometimes, I discover one or more of the devotions I read were not only written by me but also for me. Today was no exception. I had only read of couple of older posts when I came upon this one, and boy, did it resonate with me this morning! I hope it will be a blessing to you as well.


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And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
— Numbers 21:4-5

The children of Israel were weary and discouraged.  I get that.  They'd been wandering around for forty years.  Recently, they had become prey to some of the meanest inhabitants of the very land they had been promised.  They were tired, frustrated and ready to be done.  It's certainly understandable.  Unfortunately, they took their frustration too far and reacted poorly to their emotional turmoil.

  • They complained.

"Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?" It wasn't enough for them to be unhappy.  They had to make sure everyone else knew it too.  They griped to Moses.  They whined to God.  If Aaron had still been alive, I'm sure he would have gotten an earful as well.  Gripe, whine, complain. Can you relate?  I'm ashamed to admit that I'm apt to complain when I'm tired, and things aren't going my way.  I gripe to my husband, a friend, God, the dog, or even myself if no one else is around.  But the problem is, complaining doesn't fix the problem; it only causes us to focus on it all the more.

  • They blamed.

"Why have you brought us here?  This is all your fault, Moses. . . and you too, God." Nice, huh?  All I can say is that both God and Moses had a lot more patience than I do.  If I had been either of them, I would have walked away from those ungrateful people a long time ago.  But fortunately for us, God is patient and merciful.  We, too, like to play the blame game.  After all, it was "his" fault that I got angry.  "She" started it.  I wouldn't be so frustrated if "somebody" would do what they're supposed to do.  Yes, we live in a day and age that thrives on excusing poor behavior by passing the buck on to someone else.  The teenager who carried a gun into school and shot seventeen people shouldn't be held accountable because it's obvious he didn't get enough hugs when he was growing up.  Seriously?  Again, blaming doesn't solve the problem.  It merely helps us feel better about ourselves and justified in our actions.

  • They exaggerated.

"There's nothing to eat or drink around here."  Ironically enough, they contradict themselves in the last phrase of their complaint:  "and we loathe this light bread."  First, they say there isn't any bread; then they say they loathe the "light bread."  So, which is it?  The fact is what they said and what they meant obviously weren't the same thing.  It wasn't that there wasn't any food.  It was the fact that there wasn't any food that they wanted.  We tend to do the same thing by using words like all, everything, none, and nothing.  We say, "Everything is going wrong today" when, in fact, only a few things went wrong.  We say, "Nobody does anything to help around here," but what we mean is that others don't help out enough or in the ways we expect.  We overlook the truth and fly off the handle with exaggerations, which makes the initial problem seem much bigger than it actually is.

  • They were ungrateful.

"Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die?"  "We hate this manna!"  Well, there's gratitude for you.  How about, "Thank you, Lord, for delivering us from a life of slavery"?  Or maybe, "How nice it has been not to have to worry about food for this entire journey"?  They didn't thank God for His constant guidance and protection.  They didn't praise Him for the victory over their enemies He had just given them.  Instead of being thankful for their daily supply of manna, they threw it in God's face and told Him how much they despised it.  Again, I see God's patience because I would have told the ungrateful bunch, "Fine! You don't like it; don't eat it!"  Sorry, but unthankfulness pushes my buttons, which is amazing to me because I can be quite ungrateful myself.  Instead of thanking God for His goodness to me, I find myself complaining or asking for more.  And that attitude causes me to sink that much further into my discouragement.

As you can see, the children of Israel responded poorly to their weariness.  Not only did they display bad attitudes and poor behavior, but they failed to help themselves.  In fact, they only made things worse.  Complaining, blaming, exaggerating and being ungrateful will never result in a better attitude or a better journey.  They will only keep us trapped in a negative mindset.

Fortunately, the Bible gives us a beautiful picture of the right way to respond to weariness, and Lord willing, we'll discuss that in tomorrow's post.  I hope you'll join me!

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
— Ephesians 4:31