Friday, July 22, 2011

In Retrospect

     Maybe it's because I am growing older that I often sit and reflect on life.  I see things now in a much
different light than when I was in my twenties and thirties busy with our children trying to go in ten directions all at once.  Those days were filled with stress, tension, and at times, exhaustion.  However, much of it was my own doing.
     Solomon had a similar problem.  He was endowed by God with great wisdom, wealth and peace.  Yet, he chose to squander much of his blessing by marrying many wives who were not believers but pagans.  They led him into foreign worship which greatly displeased the Lord.  At a later time in his life, Solomon reflected on the emptiness of "self" gratification in the Book of Ecclesiastes.  He says in Ecclesiastes 1:12-14: " I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem.  And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven.  It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.  I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind."  For Solomon, life has been empty when it comes to the pursuit of pleasure or even of wealth.  He had it all.  However, in it, he found no deep satisfaction.
     As this book winds down to a conclusion, King Solomon says these two important statements:  "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, 'I have no pleasure in them;.....Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil" (Eccles. 12:1; 13b-14).  Having reviewed his life and all that he has observed, Solomon now reminds the young to remember the fear of the Lord and to keep His commandments.  What wonderful wisdom he imparted, and he learned it the hard way through actions that separated him from God at times.
     While I have endeavored to walk in the light of the Gospel all my life, I have missed the boat at times like Solomon.  However, God grants us the grace in later years to pass on what we have learned to help our children, grandchildren, and fellow believers so they do not run into the same "walls" we have.  With this being said, here is some practical advice to help you on your walk.
     1)  Learn to say "NO".  At the time you are up to your ears in diapers, college, or work, someone will come along and tell you about a GREAT ministry opportunity that you would be perfect for.  You already are stressed beyond belief, but you don't want to let God down, now do you?  Somehow you will find a way to make it happen.  Sadly, all you do is cheat yourself and those around you.  Our most important ministry is in our home to our spouse and our children if we are married.  If you are a single person but still trying to find your niche in the job world or with college, do not overburden yourself with a million obligations.  Believe me, I know what I am saying.  I was the Queen of the overloaded Titanic schedule quickly sunk by exhaustion in college.  I carried this into our home, and now, I wish I had spent more time enjoying what God had given to me in our children instead of always looking out to do more beyond the home.  If you learn to say "NO", there will be other opportunities for you when life is not so hectic.
    2)  Remember that you are a human being - not a human doing.  Your worth as a person is in Christ not in all your accomplishments and activities.  I had a wise college professor that told me it was great to win lots of trophies, but one day, I would have to dust them all off and the thrill would be gone.  Reaching the pinnacle of achievement is wonderful at the moment, but it doesn't fulfill your heart the way a relationship with Christ does.  In addition, the blessing of a family and time invested in serving them reaps rewards that no amount of recognition in this world can ever equal.  I have a lot of dusty trophies today that cannot compare to the four wonderful children we raised and the five precious grandsons God has blessed us with.  There is no comparison.  My advice is to invest yourself in serving God by serving your family, your friends and in your work place.  Accolades are wonderful but the crowds move on in this world.  As Solomon said, "All is vanity".  The only thing that will last forever is your relationship with Jesus Christ.  Develop that and you will find true wholeness in your life.
    3)  Invest yourselves in others.  Instead of worrying about all the things you do not have or why someone else has them rather than you, start thanking God for what you do have.  Then, go out and invest yourself in the lives of others.  Rejoice when they rejoice.  Weep when they weep.  As we do things to help others, we find such blessing.  It cures depression, envy, and self-pity quicker than any other remedy I know.  Lets face it. We are a selfish, self-centered, sinful people.  Our hearts always tend to look out for number one.  However, if we are in Christ, we are supposed to be a different person...a new man or woman.  The old man has passed away - remember?  Therefore, lets be serious about putting on the new man.  When others pass by some one who needs help, we need to be the ones to reach out our hand.  We can be a good Samaritan in another person's life or we can remain detached and miss the blessing.  I once had a psychologist tell me that the best way to defeat  depression was to go out and help others.  I took that advice and found such a joy through service.  This glorifies the Lord when it is done with a heart to please Him rather than for our own glory.
     4) Cherish each day as though it is your last.  Life is short.  This past week a young 18 year old went home to be with the Lord after losing his bout with cancer.  We do not know the hour when the Lord will call us home.  Therefore, make every effort to use your time as a good steward.  Devote yourself to prayer and Bible study each day so that you may grow in grace and knowledge.  Share your faith with family and friends that they may hear the Good News.  Kiss and hug family members whenever you have the opportunity and tell them you love them.  It does no good to say this after they are gone.  While we are here, we are to shine as lights on a hill in this world of darkness so that others will see Christ in us.  If we make the most of our time, we will not live with regrets later in life.  We will also bring glory to God by living each day as the gift that it is.
     These are just a few of the lessons I have learned over the years.  Certainly, as long as I am here, God is not finished with me.  He will continue to refine, remind, and realign my thinking so I reflect His dear Son our Lord.  Along with Solomon, though, I pray that we all will "fear God and keep His commandments."  May these insights encourage you and keep your feet from stumbling as we see the time drawing near for our Lord's return.  Selah!

What has the Lord been teaching you?  I welcome your thoughts and insights here as words of encouragement for each other.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this thoughtful post. I am still trying to find a good balance between doing too little and doing too much... I say no to things because Im in school and dont have time, and then later I realize I could have done them after all. Or I end up with too much to do. Thanks for the advice!

Penned Pebbles said...

What has the Lord been teaching me? To cherish Him above ALL things and to quit trying to make my goodness or merit count, either to impress others or to impress God. The only thing that counts is Christ and Christ in me. The only thing that impresses God is Christ, His finished work on the cross, and His Spirit's work in our lives. Blessings to you and your thoughtful and thought-provoking post.

Barbara Thayer said...

Harma Mae...I know that you are at a stage where you are trying to find a good balance for your life. I pray that what I shared will encourage you as you establish your goals in life. Blessings my friend!

Barbara Thayer said...

Isn't it wonderful how God speaks to each of us Petra. He teaches us from His Word and as we walk with Him day by day. How gracious He is as we stumble a long some days. Thanks for your insights. Many blessings.