permission not to ...

In this generation of stream-of-consciousness push-button posting without even a second thought, where we tap on screens and share selfies with space, not even imagining what living breathing human being somewhere else might see and think and want to do (or do) as a result, I think it's important to remember that you don't have to.

Whether you're a tween who has just gained access to the world wide web, a teen experimenting with who you are and how others perceive you, a young adult starting her own blog and wanting to make a difference in the world by loving other people and choosing the right-for-you college major and maybe even the right-for-you young man, or if you're a young mom trying not to be too desperate for contact with the world outside your own little growing family, a professional working hard to make all the key contact connections, or a retiree wanting to keep up with family--we all can get sucked into the trap of thinking "I have to..." or "I should..." and wanting to feel like we matter to someone.

I've talked with a number of you, and I'm picking this theme up. You're realizing there are appropriate balances and seasons. There are significant beneficial reasons for participating in social media. But it's not a must for living a godly Christian life, not for most of us. 

We put pressures on ourselves too often, resolving to blog once a month, or twice a week, or Monday through Friday. We're told by experts, this is the way you have to do it if you want to be successful and make it out there in today's world. 

But sometimes there's just not time. God's called you into a season where it isn't practical to expect yourself to manage a blog, a Facebook page in addition to a personal wall, a Linkedin profile, a Twitter account...and the piles of laundry and stacks of dishes and school assignments or exercise or reading with the kids or other significant work...and continue to grow in your personal relationship with God.

And sometimes there's just no way to say it. Sometimes God's called you into a season so dark and so difficult, so deep and private, that you can't get words on a page. If you remember to keep breathing you're doing well. If you can make yourself eat and speak truth to yourself, singing even just one song or hymn or spiritual song in your heart to the Lord, probably something simple like "I know He is able to carry me through," then you say thank you even as you cry yourself to sleep because you survived another day, and God is faithful even though it's hard. 

You don't need my permission, but you have to know this: 

It's okay to not post anything on Facebook for a month. It's okay to totally deactivate your account.
It's okay to take a nap or go on a walk with a friend or soak in the tub and soak in the Word.
It's okay to not write, for a season, while you process. 
It's okay to cling on to hope, to walk by faith. It's more than okay!

"There's a time for everything..." wrote the created human most intellectually gifted ever. Solomon tried it all and sorted it all out and came to this startling conclusion: "Fear God, and keep His commandments." 

Obey and reverence HIM.

Because God is Who He says He is--our faithful Creator, Sustainer, Savior, Shepherd, Counselor, King--if He is orchestrating things in your life in such a way that you cannot write or network or spend hours scrolling through other people's musings and linked articles and witty cartoons and poignant quotations, as long as you are accepting what He's giving you, honoring Him by submitting to His choice for this season, seeking to build your relationship with Him and then with others that He has strategically positioned around you to "do life" with, if you are keeping your gaze on Him and the work He has called you to for this season, then it's okay. You're going to be okay. 

Because He promises to reward obedience. 
He can multiply your efforts, your rest, your effectiveness in ways you could never drum up. 

"Seek first God and His Kingdom, and let Him add every thing else in His time."

"He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that you ask or imagine." 

"He is able, He is able, I know, He is able!" 

Whatever season you're going through, 

you have permission not to do what you do because you feel social pressure from without or because you're tempted to self-impose a regiment that is supposed to work out to your famous success.

Instead, you have permission to do what you do for the glory of God, "whether you're eating, or drinking, or sleeping, or socializing, or exercising, or studying, or reading stories to children and tucking into bed, or lying in a hospital, or holding the hand of someone lying in a hospital, or ...." 

Stay in close communication with the Spirit. "Keep in step with" Him! And you'll be okay. In fact, you'll be more than okay. You'll be who He made you to be. 

"You are His workmanship--His masterpiece, His poem!"

And you have permission not to do anything but what He's created you uniquely to do, and to do that with everything you've got.

Grace and peace multiplied,
with love,

michelle

the very best place to start?

Yesterday I stumbled across an old InTouch devotional from back in 2002 on "Wisdom in Trials." 2002? Wow, really!? 

Well, this July was a sort of reordering-my-private-world kind of month, which I may or may not share all the details regarding. But I didn't have any tutoring scheduled and just got to focus on the kids and the home and a few close relationships. Halfway through, the boys went to spend a few days with Grampa and Gramma while I sorted through two closets, bonded with baby, and searched my heart. I'm happy to report that the end is in sight for the organization of "stuff." I think I'll always be sorting through "soul stuff"--an ongoing "project", for sure. "We're all in process," right!? Well, I'm thankful "He's still working on me" ... very patiently!




Anway, this 2002 InTouch devo guide on "Wisdom in Trials" by Charles Stanley. My first thought was to either throw it away or pass it on (my modus operandi when I'm cleaning out--emphasis on out!). Instead, I decided to take a look. And I'm so glad I did! 

As an author, it always intrigues me to think about a topic and think where I might start the discussion, how I might plot the thirty days or the dozen chapters if I were to take up the task. And it's so interesting to see how different approaches work so effectively at different times. 

Well, this month-long devotional was no different. Day 1 didn't start where I expected with one of your typical passages on suffering. Interestingly, instead, it started in Revelation 20. 

Sometimes I think we think the "best place to start" is "at the very beginning" thanks to a stirring Rodgers-and-Hammerstein tune performed by Julie Andrews and the captain's kids... 

Or we think we need to start in the moment and then kind of work out--backwards and forwards--after we deal with the right now. 

Granted, there's a place for each of these approaches, to be sure. 

But this time, for me, Charles Stanley nailed it: sometimes the best place to start is at the very end ... the future hope that is ours. 

Revelation can be a very challenging book for me. But today, despite initial impression from the beginning of the verse, my heart became focused and I came away with pure encouragement.

Revelation 20:4, "And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."  


As I looked at the part about those who have been beheaded/martyred ... but who will be exalted to reign with Christ, my mind was directed to the two things those saints held firmly to the very end: the testimony of Jesus and the Word of God. 

Those two things are what I, too, must hold onto. 

I can let go of other things. I've been told I need to. And I really am working on that. 

But I cannot ... I must not ... let go of these: the testimony of Jesus and the Word of God. 

The resurrection is coming! "It will be worth it all!!!" 

And I am so thankful for this sure and steadfast hope! 

No matter what you're facing today, I pray this will be an encouragement to you too. 

Hold fast the testimony of Jesus. 

Grip tight the Word of God. 

Never let go. No matter what.

Grace and peace multiplied,
with love, 

michelle