Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Are You Living on Purpose?

Looking at your to-do list, have you ever felt an almost
Photo from stockphoto taken from freedigitalphoto.net
uncontrollable urge to chuck it all? Do you feel like your family's activity calendar has taken over your home? When was the last time you went out to coffee with a friend? Spent the entire day in your PJs? Does the very thought cause longing to fill your heart?

I'm a doer by nature. An overly enthusiastic doer, which means, it's easy for me to jam my schedule full of all kinds of wonderful things. Quickly making me a slave to my agenda and crowding out the main things.

Because even good things can keep us from God's best--for us, our ministries, our families... 

So what do we do when we begin to feel as if life has taken control? We determine to take it back. 

Photo by graur razvan ionut taken from freedigitalphotos.net
1. Begin with prayer. 

Pray for clarity and the courage to follow through. Isaiah 30:21 says,"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'"

That voice is God's ever-present, ever-guiding Spirit. Ephesians 2:10 tells us God has a plan for our lives. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us it's a good, hope-filled plan, and 1 Corinthians 2:9 says,"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him." 

In other words, God's plans for you are so much better than anything you could have dreamed up. The only logical course of action, then, is to "Carefully determine what pleases the Lord" (Eph. 5:10), not acting thoughtlessly, but rather, understanding what the Lord wants you to do (Eph. 5:17) and doing it. 

I suspect as many of us prayerfully evaluate our schedules, certain things will jump out at us. Perhaps we've over-extended ourselves and need to cut back on a few activities. Perhaps one activity in particular comes to mind--the one we agreed to out of guilt rather than prayerful intentionality. Or perhaps it's our children's schedule that comes to mind as we realize we've allowed their activities to rob them of much-needed family time. 

When this happens, we must pray for courage to honor Christ above all else, meaning, to put obedience to Christ above our desire to please man.

I love how Paul says it in Galatians 1:10: "Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ" (NLT). 

We can't do both. We can't live our life for Christ and others. Something's going to give and if we're not intentional, that something's going to be our family and faith walk. 

2. Schedule the main things into our day 

 Why is it, when time gets short, it's often my top priorities that seem to slide? Time spent in prayer, cultivating my most important relationship, developing a listening ear and a surrendered heart. Time spent with my husband, cultivating my most important human
photo by David Castillo Dominici
taken from freedigitalphotos.net
relationship. Time spent with our daughter, being intentional in my most important responsibility. 

I suspect this is because I take those relationships for granted, and I allow those things that scream loudest--dirty, smelly socks; the steady bling of my smart phone every time an email comes in; those continual tasks that demand my attention--to distract me from my greatest call: to love God with everything within me and to love others as myself. 

According to Jesus, those two things are the most important commandments. The most urgent instructions He's given us. Therefore, if God Himself says those two things are the main things, shouldn't I give them top priority? To do that, I need to be intentional, adding time with God, family, and friends, into my agenda. Because if I don't schedule them in, chances are, another activity will schedule them out. 

3. Be persistent in prayer 

Some answers take time. When prayerfully evaluating our schedule, some things may be obvious, like cutting that hour and a half we spend every Saturday morning on Facebook. Other things, however, will take time, thought, prayer, and seeking wise counsel to figure out. 

But God is faithful, and He will guide us toward the very best course of action. Sometimes He might want us to persevere through the chaos, reminding us that we're in a season. Other times, He might have a solution on the horizon, one He'll show us, when the time is right. But the only way we'll know for certain whether to push through or pull back is to prayerfully seek His will in everything we do, patiently awaiting His answer.

What about you? How's your schedule this winter? When was the last time you paused to prayerfully evaluate your commitments and how you spend your time? Are you intentional with your day? With your main relationships? What can you do today to take control of your day? 

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  1. Spoke to me today, Jennifer. Thanks!

  2. I'm so glad! I find I must follow these steps often. :)

  3. How did you know? :) A very good post which also spoke to me heart. I've been saying for years that 'busy' is a four letter word :) Hugs and blessings!

  4. Ha! That's so funny, Caryl! Life gets crazy sometimes, doesn't it? I'm so glad God's bigger than the crazy! :)

  5. Love this post! Puts things into perspective. Thank you!

  6. Intentional and persistence (in prayer) -- two words that really jumped out at me in your post. I need to do both and they've been popping up so many times lately, I think I'm beginning to get the message. Thanks for the heartfelt post.

    1. I love when God helps us zero in on specific things to focus on, Betty. :) I'm so glad you found the post encouraging.

  7. It sometimes is a season of chaos that we enter, and other seasons of steadiness. I had a crazy busy season as a single mom of three for over a decade, and now as a recent empty nester, and a career that has me working at home, life has really changed! And it a time to prayerfully consider where God wants me to spend my time and efforts. I think, as you say, it is important to know there are many seasons in life, and God's got you when you keep your focus on Him!