Monday Morning Devotion-October 25, 2021
Commit thy works unto the Lord and thy thoughts will be established. Proverbs 16:3
*updated from July 1, 2012
I don't know who first said, "Time flies," but, how prophetic was that? Along the way the statement has been changed to "time flies when you are having fun." That is often said with a touch of irony, when we are not having fun. In fact, it's kind of a Murphy's Law, "Whatever can go wrong will" type of statement. Still the fact is, in good times as well as bad ones time still flies.
To realize that truth we have only to pause and realize that almost 10 months of 2021 are already gone. Halloween has come, after that we will be in the express lane zipping toward the holidays. Hey half of our football season is gone already.
Soon it will be Thanksgiving and before you know it Christmas will come and go. As those treasured holidays pass us by, then we will be saying where did this year go? Seems like only yesterday we were ringing in a New Year, and now it's gone and another one is ready to take its place.
Kinda depressing to think about it that way, isn't it? Well, thankfully the days don't go by that fast but sometimes it seems like it. Sometimes it seems like we are wishing our life away. "Aw man I wish I had done that. Why didn't I think about it before now? I've got to plan better°you know the old saying, 'you've got to plan your work and work your plan.'
See how quickly the rest of this year passed in just writing about it. Well, it won't go that fast, but on January 1, 2022, when we stop to reflect on the year it will seem like it flew by in a jet.
One thing that will happen to us each year, ready or not, is that we will have a birthday. That's a good thing, but if you are like me you'll have to take a real deep breath to blow out all the candles on the birthday cake. Birthdays are a time when I also take a deep breath and think about where I've been in relation to where I am at that particular time in my life.
I can't say I've always been really satisfied when I performed that little exercise. It seems there is always something out of sync. Something I could have done better. Maybe, even an action I'd like to forget, but is an unfortunate reality. Sometimes it's a matter of just not having enough faith. Often, not enough patience. As one of my favorite speakers, John Riley, the country boy from Alabama says, "When you shuck it right down to the cob here's what we have left." It all starts in our head. Are we exercising right thinking or wrong thinking?
Pause and examine these statements. You might have said them or something similar. "It's just my nature to worry." Ever said that? That's like saying it's beyond your control. It's just built into you. You have always been a worrier. Nothing you can do about it. Really?
How about this one? "I'm usually pessimistic." Maybe you don't say it, but you act it out. Why is that? Is it because bad things keep happening to good people, so you simply plan for the worst?
Here's another. "I can't help it that's just the way I am." Okay, I guess there is no hope for you. By golly, that's the way you are and that's the way you're gonna be.
Here's a good one. "I just have a bad temper." Well, who controls that temper? Certainly not you. Someone else must be in control of your temper if that is the excuse you use when things go wrong.
The good news is this. No matter which one of those fits your current situation or even if there is another controlling attitude at work that is holding you back, God loves you just the way you are and He loves you too much to let you stay that way.
God's plan for you is nothing short of a change of heart. As Max Lucado says, "If you were a car God would want to control your engine. If you were a computer, God would claim the software and the hard drive. But, since you are a person, God wants to change your heart!
God changes our hearts by changing the way we look at life. When we get up and go to work and are hit with a problem, the way we react, i.e., how we think about that problem can set the tone for the entire day. If it happens at the end of the day, it can change the way you view the whole day.
Jack Canfield, of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame has a formula for right thinking he uses in his talks. That formula is: E+R=O. Broken down it stands for the "event" plus our "reaction" to the event determines the "outcome." We might not have any control over the event. It could be an order cancellation; computer malfunction; car problem; unpleasant encounter with an unreasonable person; traffic problem; family situation; or any of an endless variety of possibilities.
How we respond to that problem is going to determine just what the outcome will be. Will it ruin our day and carry over into everything else we do? Will this event color our thinking, our activities, our mood, or are we going to resolve it as best we can and move on past it to accomplish other things and have a great day?
God doesn't promise to resolve all our struggles. But He will help us change the way we look at them. The apostle Paul tells us we should welcome tests because those "trials and tribulations" make us stronger. I can't say I've arrived at the point where I welcome adversity, but I do admit, I'm a stronger person for having gone through some unpleasant things in my life. As the old cliché goes, "we live and learn."
Many times, it is just a matter of changing our focus. In that little book, "Live, Learn and Pass it On," there are quotes from people in all different age groups---all anonymous---concerning some of the things they have learned in life. One 71-year-old came up with this one: "I've learned that if you stay focused on yourself, you are guaranteed to be miserable."
Somewhere else I read that same thought stated as..."He who is all wrapped up in himself, makes a mighty small package." Haven't you known people like that? All they could talk about is themselves or their family or what they think or what they are doing. There comes a point in the conversation when you just want to say, "Get over it, buddy."
But we are all somewhat guilty of that. It's just when we focus almost exclusively on ourselves that we will be miserable and so will those who must listen to us.
So, it all starts with right thinking. Jesus is our example. He could see good in the bad. Or as Lucado says, He could see "gold in the garbage." When Judas betrayed Him with a kiss on the cheek, He said..."Friend, do what you have to do." Could we do that?" Could we call someone who came to kill us, friend?
Fortunately, we don't have to. Jesus shows us that there is "purpose in pain." Even though He prayed to be delivered from the crucifixion, His prayer was unanswered. Can you imagine saying that in the same breath...Jesus and unanswered prayer? It is like Henry Ford not giving his son a car or Bill Gates depriving his son of a computer. There was something greater at stake here. Jesus could see a purpose in the pain. He exercised right thinking when He chose to see the immediate struggle as a necessary part of a greater plan.
There is necessary turbulence in the plan of God. Dealing with the turbulence and not letting it take over starts with right thinking. As the scripture says, if we commit what we do to God, He will establish our thoughts. Then, we will practice right thinking.
Monday Prayer: Father, guide our thinking. Help us to understand your plan and not be pushed into wrong reactions to the events in our life. By practicing right thinking our outcomes will be pleasing to you. Amen!