Recently a young woman admitted to me that she was often “mean” to herself. That morning her internal bully–the one in charge of exercise and diet–berated her for sleeping in and missing a workout: You Jerk! Can’t you do anything right?
This was supposed to motivate her. It didn’t. Perhaps you, too, have noticed that such rigid expectations and unkind inner conversations are actually self-defeating. Trying too hard to make it all just right, all the time, turns us into candidates for burnout.
And in case you think this dried-up condition occurs only when one overworks at a job, reflect on the definition from Myron Rush’s book, Burnout: “The type of stress and emotional fatigue, frustration, and exhaustion that occurs when a series (or combination) of events in a relationship, mission, way of life, or job fail to produce an expected result.” Burnout can happen in any life role or area when we cling to unreasonable expectations and ignore this truth: Only God is perfect!
We gain relief from naggingly consistent disappointment when we “toss out” this misconception that people (including bodies, minds, and emotions) have the ability to be flawless 24/7. It’s just not possible here on this earth.
If you’re like me, you appreciate any reminder of this relief-producing reality, whether it’s through a friend’s story, Bible verse, funny irony you witness, bigger-than-life blunder you face, or speaker/book message. The book, It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life gives you 163 two-three minute devotionals to help you relax and enjoy your humanness. Check it out. http://tinyurl.com/DevoBook
By the way, if you missed your workout today, give yourself a break and “go for it” tomorrow.
What to Do When the Lights Go Out
by Cec Murphey
When God Turned Off the Lights is a book for those of us who ask, “What’s wrong with me? Why are others living in the sunlight while nothing but dark clouds and darkness envelop me?”
If you sincerely desire to follow Jesus Christ, life won’t always be easy. Many times the Bible promises victory, and you may need to remind yourself that there can be no victory without struggling and overcoming obstacles.
In my book, I used the image of God turning out the lights because that was how I perceived the situation. I felt as if I walked in darkness for 18 months. We all interact differently with God, and my experience won’t be the same as yours. Even so, most serious Christians have times when God seems to turn away or stops listening. And we feel alone.
Perhaps it’s like the time the Israelites cried out to God for many years because of the Egyptian oppression. ”God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise…and knew it was time to act” (Exodus 2:24 NLT ). God hadn’t forgotten, of course, but from their perspective, that’s how it must have seemed. It may seem like that to you if you’re going through your own form of darkness.
Here are a few suggestions to help you:
1. Ask God this simple question: “Have I knocked out the lights by my failures? Have I sinned against you? After you ask the question, listen. Give God the opportunity to speak to you.
2. Don’t see this as divine punishment (unless God shows you it is), but consider the silence an act of divine love to move you forward. This is God’s method to teach you and stretch you.
3. Avoid asking why. You don’t need reasons and explanations–and you probably won’t get them anyway. Instead, remind yourself that this temporary darkness is to prepare you for greater light.
4. Say as little as possible to your friends. Most friends will want to “fix” you or heal you and they can’t. They may offer advice (often not helpful) or make you feel worse (“Are you sure everything is right between you and God?”).
5. Stay with the “means of grace.” That is, don’t neglect worship with other believers even if you feel empty. Read your Bible even if you can’t find anything meaningful.
I chose to read Lamentations and Psalms (several times, especially Lamentations) because they expressed some of the pain and despair I felt.
6. If you don’t have a daily prayer time, start one. Perhaps something as short as three minutes–and do it daily. Talk honestly to God. It’s all right to get angry. (Read the Psalms if you’re hesitant.)
7. Remind yourself, “I am in God’s hands. This is where I belong and I’ll stay in the blackout until I’m ready to move forward.”
8. Pray these words daily: “But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults” (Psalm 19:12 T NIV ). Some versions say “secret sins.” These are failures and sins of which you may not yet be aware. One of the purposes of your darkness may be to bring those hidden problems to light.
9. Ask God, “What do you want me to learn from this experience?” You may not get an answer, but it’s still a good question. Continue to ask–even after the lights go back on again. If you’re open, you will learn more about yourself and also about God.
10. As you receive “light” about yourself while walking in darkness, remind yourself, God has always known and still loves me.
About the Author: Award-winning writer Cecil Murphey is the author or co-author of more than 100 books, including the “New York Times” bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (withDon Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson). He’s also the author of When Someone You Love Has Cancer and Christmas Miracles, both 2009 releases. Murphey’s books have sold millions and have brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world.
Lord, what do you want me to do? is a valid question, but sometimes we emphasize this query more than the essential one: Lord, who do you want me to be? When concentrating primarily on doing without allowing time to consider who I’m becoming, I can get over-tired and agitated. It’s a vicious cycle. I do, but it doesn’t always produce the peace I crave, so I conclude I should do more.
According to the Excellence vs. Perfectionism Chart in The Relief of Imperfection[i], when you and I chase for perfection (striving too hard to make it just right) our lives are shaped on the pursuit of doing. Yet, when we partner with God for excellence—enjoying quality in balance—our lives focus on the pursuit of being.
This reminds me of when Jesus’ followers asked, “What does God want us to do?” Jesus replied, “The work God wants you to do is believe.”* Jesus offers you and me relief from the performance merry-go-round. He assures us that God wants us to be—to be a believing person. We believe that He sent Jesus to show us his love. It doesn’t mean we neglect action. Doing flows naturally out of being. We can learn to be first and thendo.
Lord, today I’ll hit the pause button on my over-doing so I can get quiet enough inside to acknowledge the growing faith within me.
Making It Personal: Who are you becoming?
* John 6:28-29: What are the things God wants us to do? Jesus answered, “The work God wants you to do is this: to believe in the One that God sent.” (NCV)
This post is devotion #3 in my recently-released book, It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life.http://tinyurl.com/DevoBook
[i]Joan C. Webb, The Relief of Imperfection (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2007)
Good morning, Friends!
Today I’ve invited a guest blogger to share with you. Pastor Gayelee Reynolds of Carlsbad Christian Assembly wrote a poem titled “The Intentional Woman” for her church’s recent women’s retreat. As many of you know, the Women’s Ministries of the Assemblies of God chose The Intentional Woman as their 2009 theme. Check out their great website athttp://womensministriesunlimited.ag.org.
ead, reflect on and enjoy Gayelee’s message!
The Intentional Woman
By: Gayelee Reynolds
God’s Intentional Woman–
Running to and fro
Looking over every detail
Wondering where to go
Making plans and keeping journals
Trying to be her best
Wondering if it’s really worth it
As she’s put through every test.
She makes her goals and has her dreams
And shares them with her sister
Then thoughts and doubts come crashing in
As her hands begin to blister.
See this Intentional Woman
Started with great and exciting goals
Then the test of greatness began to press her
and she slowly began to fold.
The days go by and the goals seem dimmer
As guilt rises in her gut,
“What was I thinking to dream such dreams?
I must have been going nuts.”
She stops and looks and surveys her life
As depression settles in,
“Where have my dreams and desires gone?
They’ve slowly grown so dim.”
She takes a deep breath
And cries to her Master,
“Forgive me for I have sinned;
I’ve forgotten the dreams and desires you gave me
And traded them in for a friend.”
“I am your Intentional Woman
You’ve made me with such great care
To dream. To aspire. To reach for my goals
And to live my life–should I dare.”
© 2009 Gayelee Reynolds
Pastor Gayelee serves as our Youth Pastor and ministers to our young people in grades 6-12. More affectionately known as, “Momma G” to our youth, she brings a unique and refreshing energy and perspective to the youth ministry. Anyone who knows Pastor Gayelee, knows that she loves to laugh. Her passion is for the youth of today to become totally sold out for Christ in every area of their lives, impacting others by the life they live. She and her husband, Bill, have two daughters: Angela and Morgan.
Check out our Intentional Woman website at http://www.intentionalwoman.org
In our over-scheduled, over-worried, over-whatevered lives, it’s difficult to practice the patience required to process personal and spiritual change.
Yesterday a coaching partner moaned, “I should be ‘fixed’ by now. Yet I still struggle. A mentor told me that God usually heals instantly. Not happening here. I’m confused.”
Together, we brainstormed examples of how God approves of process: A seed grows over time into a healthy tree or bush that produces flowers, fruit or vegetables. Creation took several swoops of God’s hand. Jesus navigated childhood and adolescence to finally fulfill His purpose at age 33. Prospective mommies wait nine months for their babies to arrive. Those babies learn to walk, talk, reason, and work after months and years of trial and error–it’s never instantaneous. Indeed, God sanctions and smiles at the process of growth and transformation. Isn’t that a relief?
What kind of process are you in at the moment?
Joan C. Webb
Writing, teaching, coaching to empower and set free.