Do you think of your age as just a number? Do you act your age? Do you feel your age? Do think that aging is just for cheese and wine? Do you think about these questions at all? What is age anyway? There is a saying that goes, “you are only as old as you feel.”
I guess right about now you are probably wondering why I am bringing up all of these questions about age. Well, because age has been on my mind lately. I turn 43 this year. I am officially middle-aged. All I can think of is “horrors!” When I was in high school there was this TV show called Thirtysomething. I never actually watched the show, but I remember thinking how far away that was for me. Now, I wistfully wish I was thirtysomething again.
If you are around my age and now in that “middle age” era of your life, another age-related thought that might be popping up in your mind is mid-life crisis. I have concluded that the reason most of us have a crisis, is for one of three reasons: 1) we can’t believe that we are in the middle of our lives (or that basically half of our lives are over), 2) we are not where we thought we would or should be at this point in our lives (be it personally or professionally or both), and 3) we don’t FEEL like we are middle aged. I mean, honestly, in my head I feel like I am about 28. It freaks me out to think that not only am I NOT 28, but I am also not even 38 anymore. Le sigh…
I had the realization that I don’t need to worry myself about my physical age. I mean, what’s the point? I can’t do much about it anyway, so, why worry about it? As the old saying goes, “it is what it is.” So, as for me and my physical self, we plan to just grow old gracefully.
Well, all of this thinking I have been doing lately on my physical age has led me to also think about my “spiritual” age. Where am I on the growth chart of God and knowing Him better? At this point in my spiritual development, I figure I am about the age of a toddler. I feel like I know just enough to toddle around and start digging into things and causing trouble! lol
Ok, not really, I am a bit better off than that. (Thank you, Lord, honestly for that.) But, I certainly have a long way to go.
I realized the other day that I need to grow up. I need to grow up in God. I need to be striving for His excellence, His love, His ways. I feel like “grow up” is an appropriate metaphor because if you were to ask me about God and where I think about Him being, my first thought is up in heaven. Above us. Up. So, I need to be like that beanstalk in” Jack and the Beanstalk” and be growing up, towards Him. (Now, since I have moved past the toddler stage of my spiritual development, I have, thankfully realized that not only is God in heaven, but He is here on earth too. He is everywhere if we open our eyes to Him. He is also in each and every one of us who believe in Him.)
The dictionary tells us that to “grow up” means to advance to maturity. I want to be mature in Christ. I want to be like God and have a godly character. Spiritual maturity is being like Christ.
So, how does this happen? Well, to put in bluntly, life happens. I think you know what I am talking about. Things happen in life that we do not like. Things happen in life that do not make sense to us. But, each of the problems we face in life are an opportunity for us to grow spiritually. They help us grow up. But, only IF, we trust God and depend on Him. God can use these experiences to help us grow.
And, most of the time, the way He teaches us about things is by putting us in situations that are in direct opposition to the qualities that we want. I mean, think about it. Have you ever prayed for patience and shortly thereafter you find yourself in a situation where you truly needed patience? This is God’s way of teaching you patience.
However, through all these storms we face in life, we can learn to depend on God for everything. We grow stronger during these storms. When we put our trust and faith in God, we grow up. God wants us to realize that He has and IS everything we need in this life. Think about that for a moment. God IS everything we need in this life. Pretty powerful, isn’t it?
I also need to point out that you can be a believer in the Lord, but never grow up spiritually. As Hebrews 5:12-13 tells us, “You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about the Scriptures. You are like babies who drink only milk and cannot eat solid food. And a person who is living on milk isn’t very far along in the Christian life and doesn’t know much about doing what is right.”
Isn’t this a horrible waste? It truly saddens me to think about how many Christians there are out there who really are just toddlers in their faith. There is so much potential and it is being wasted. God has great plans for you. Why not let Him do great things in your life? You only need to grow up!
I am going to leave you with some Bible verses that drive these points home. I hope you spend some time with these verses, and with your Bible in general, and let these verses marinate in your mind. And, I hope that will join me in growing up in God. It is a life-long process, but it will be well worth it.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." James 1:2-5
“We are not meant to remain as children but to grow up in every way into Christ.” Ephesians 4:14-15
"Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her."
"I will be your God through all your lifetime, yes, even when your hair is white with age. I made you and I will care for you. I will carry you along and be your Savior." Isaiah 46:4
The weather here in the south has been pretty cold as of late. We have actually had real snow twice in the last two months. I think that may be a record. (Honestly.) We usually only get ice here, and ice sucks. I mean, you can’t play in it, and it wreaks havoc on the roads. It is kind of pretty to look at, but not worth it with all the down trees and power lines it causes. Snow—the real stuff—is so much better.
That being said, I am tired of cold weather. Ok, I have never liked cold weather, so even after about a week of it, I am tired of it. Hey, I was born and raised in the south, what can I say? This is also why I will never be able to live anywhere but the south. (Or, at least anywhere that is not warm at least 75 percent of the year.) My body doesn’t do well in the cold. I digress.
Anyway, God blessed us this past weekend. We had beautiful weather. It got to 69 degrees on Sunday. It was a perfect day!
And, the kids in my neighborhood took advantage of it. (As did I.) In the evening, as I gathered Clancey for our walk, I could hear some of the kids playing baseball in the backyard of a neighbor’s house down the street. I could hear the thwack of the ball being caught in a leather mit. I could hear the bonk of the ball being hit off a wooden bat. I could hear the kids all yelling and having a good time. As Clancey and I were headed down the street I was thinking about how much I wanted to be a kid again and be out there with them. It was at that moment that I heard one of the kids say, “keep your eye on the ball.”
As we walked on down the street, I kept repeating that over and over in my head, “keep your eye on the ball, keep your eye on the ball.” I started wondering if I was keeping my eye on the ball. Then, my next thought was, as an adult, what does that even look like or mean? Immediately I realized that, to me, it means keeping my eyes on God. And, try as I might—and I have been trying mighty hard lately—I have not been doing the best job of that.
I try to write at least one blog post a week. I read two devotionals each day. I try to read some of my Bible every day. And, lately I have been reading up on how to pray better. (I really want to work on my prayer life. It is fast becoming a priority in my life.) There are great Christian blogs that I follow and read each week. I listen to a great contemporary Christian radio station going to and from work each day. I participate in a women's reading group where we read books by Christian authors and we meet every other week to discuss said books and pray and just visit with each other. I am honestly working to make God a priority in my life. And, I do truly know that He should be my ONLY priority. (I know that when we make God our top priority, everything else falls into place. God is cool like that. It is like magic!) Even with all this, I still feel my eyes drifting from the ball.
You do this too, I am sure. Why? Because we are humans. We are sinful by nature and often seek the desires of our flesh. And, the devil knows all of this. And, he uses it against us as much as he possibly can. And, sadly, sometimes it doesn’t take much. I know that he easily gets into my head and there are times when I have real trouble getting him out. Sometimes I find myself sinking pretty low and I can feel the devil just punching away at me. And, once you slip into the devil’s pit, it can be awfully hard to climb back up out of it.
I have realized that the devil knows when we are working extra hard to keep our eyes on God and he just jumps at the chance to work overtime on forcing our eyes elsewhere. That is when it becomes up to us to stay calm and keep our eye on the ball. It is just one of those things we need to remember each and every day. It is important in baseball and it is vital in our lives. (Especially our spiritual lives.)
I truly believe that we can get to a point in our lives where looking to God and keeping our eye on the ball can become second nature. I am striving to get there. But, again, because of my sinful nature, I want it right now. I have zero patience. But, I am working on that part of it too.
In the meantime, let’s help each other out. Let’s be kind to each other. Let’s be forgiving of each other. Let’s show each other grace, the way God does for us. In other words, let’s remind each other to keep our eye on the ball.
If I were to ask you what your necessities are, what would you say? This being the 21st century, you might say something along the lines of the internet, your mobile phone, and your tablet. Or maybe you are a little more old school and think about power and indoor plumbing, like me! (I can’t imagine not having heat in the winter or having to go outside to an outhouse to use the bathroom in any kind of weather, but definitely not in the heat of summer, but I digress.)
So, let’s get down to brass tacks here, let’s talk about the basic necessities for life. What is it we all need to live? Food, water, shelter, and clothing. Those are the four basic things that are integral to our survival. I would also like to add in love to this equation as well.
Now, let me twist things up a little here. I have been thinking a lot lately about how maybe the most essential thing in life is God. Would you not agree? I think if you are a Christ-follower, you certainly will agree. In this post, I would like to share with you how God is our food, water, shelter, and clothing.
John 6:35 says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” Bread is considered a basic dietary item. It is a staple food. Bread is such a basic food item that it has become synonymous for food in general. We even use the phrase “breaking bread together” to indicate the sharing of a meal with others.
While food is important, we all know that man cannot live on bread alone. Water is vital to our existence—even more imperative than food. In the above verse from John, Jesus says that we shall not hunger or thirst. In John 7:38 he drives the point home, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” Also, in the book of John, Jesus cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” As a Christian, Jesus should be the well we drink from daily. He is our living water.
Let’s move on to shelter. The dictionary tells us that there are many words that are a synonym for shelter. Well, in the Bible you will find many instances where learn that the Lord is our “shelter”. Psalm 46:1 tells us, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Then, Deuteronomy 33:27 tells us, “The eternal God is a dwelling place…”. And, Isaiah 25:4 tells us, “For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat, for the breath of the ruthless is like a rain storm against a wall.” In this case, “You” is referring to God. So, as you can see from just these three verses, the Lord is our shelter.
Finally, let’s look at clothing. If you are a Christian you are “clothed in Chris”. The clothing imagery used in the Bible reflects the transformation that takes place within us when we form a true relationship with Jesus Christ. In our union with God, we “put on Christ”, like we put on our clothing. The apostle Paul tells us that “in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Therefore, Christ is our clothing.
Now, I want to circle back around to something I mentioned above—love. While looking at love in the “essential” sense, it doesn’t actually fit the requirements. However, I believe that if you truly want to not only live your life, but grow strong and bloom, you need love. And, there is no one who loves us more than God. God loved us so much He sent His son to die on the cross for our sins. (See John 3:16) And, not only does God love us, but God is love. Love is the fundamental essence of His nature and character—it is simply what He is.
I pray that you will allow God to be the food, water, shelter and clothing in your life. He really is all you need.
I would like to share something very special with all of you—at least it is something very special to me. If you have been following along with my blog, you may remember me talking about “moving towards something” in one of my posts from September. Well, I am so excited to share with you exactly what that is. (Drum roll, please!)
I am opening my own online company called CAPtiv8 Gear. It is a Christian-themed company that specializes in baseball caps, t-shirts, tote bags, and iPhone cases. (Or as I call them, “Thinking Caps”, “Shirt Tells”, “Tote Allies”, and “Makur Case”.) I created this little company with the intention of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in a fun way. The mission is to get people to think about God. Our goal is for people to learn more about God, form a true relationship with Him, and ultimately be saved. We want people to become captivated with God; hence, “CAPtiv8”. And, as a by-product, we would like a portion of our profits to go to local charities to help those in need.
The idea for CAPtiv8 Gear came upon me in April 2017. One Friday night as I was in bed trying to sleep, the idea of starting a company called CAPtiv8 popped into my head. I got up the next morning, took a notebook and pencil outside to our front porch and started writing down my ideas. Initially, I just wanted it to be a cap and t-shirt line with cutesy images and text. Over the course of a week or so, I realized that I wanted the focus of the caps and t-shirts to be God-centered. That is when I decided to take verses from the Bible and use those as the inspiration for my cute images and text.
From there, I spent a good amount of time designing my logo and brand. Next, I searched out Bible verses that spoke to me and got to work creating designs. (These two aspects were the really fun parts! I am a graphic designer by day and coming up with all the graphic aspects was exciting.) From there, I figured out how to create a website via WordPress and found a company to partner with that allows me to sell my items online. (This was by far the hardest part for me. Trying to figure out the best company to use to host the website and how to setup the online store was especially tough for me, as my brain in not wired to understand this kind of thing!) But, finally, after many months, and lots of trial and error, here we are. I hope these designs and products speak to your heart and encourage you in your spiritual journey.
Having a relationship with God is the most important thing you can do for yourself. You are His child and He loves you and wants to be a part of your life each and every day. I hope that CAPtiv8 Gear can play a small role in your relationship with God. Remember to always Keep God in Your Heart!
I am having my “Grand Opening” this coming Sunday, January 7. It would mean a great deal to me if you would visit the site, look around, and let me know your thoughts. And, if you like what you see, please share it out with your friends and family.
I don’t want you to think that this blog will now be a sounding board for everything CAPtiv8 Gear. It won’t. This will be the one and only time where the focus of a post will be on my new company. If you would like to get news and updates on CAPtiv8 Gear, you can sign up for that newsletter on the CAPtiv8 Gear website. But, as a way of saying thank you for following me here, I would like to give you, my FOGG7 followers, a discount for your first purchase. If you enter FOGG715 into the coupon section at the checkout, that will give you 15 percent off. Thank you again and remember, Keep God in Your Heart.
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.