Sometimes life is funny. Have you ever had one recurring message that just keeps “showing up” in your life? One that seems to be everywhere? On the radio, on your Facebook feed, in articles posted on Linkedin, in a random blog post that you come across, in your daily devotionals, in conversations you have with your friends. And, notice I wrote friends plural—as in more than one.
It's like God is trying to send you a message. Well, God, I want you to know that I hear you. I get it.
For the last week and half or so, I have been hearing “slow down” in various forms and incarnations—both in how I am receiving the message and in how I should slow down.
Apparently, I need to slow down my life, my thoughts, my actions, and my words. I just need to slow down everywhere, in all areas, or so it seems.
And, I must say, this is great advice. The older I get the more I realize this. Wouldn’t you agree? In the Bible, James 4:14 reminds us, “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”
We are a mist that appears for a little time. A. Little. Time. – and then vanishes.
If that verse doesn’t make you stop in your tracks, you might need to seek help.
As a kid, I remember it feeling like FOREVER for Christmas or summer break to roll around. Now, I feel like Christmas was about a month ago. Another funny thing about life is the older we get; the faster time goes by. We as humans get slower. Our bodies age and don’t work as well as they once did. It can take us longer to do things. Or, we get to a point where we can’t do things at all anymore. All the while that clock spins faster and faster and faster. And, we all rush around trying to get this thing done and that thing done. Rush, rush, rush. You know it’s true.
So, with all of this in mind, I urge you to slow down. Stop and smell the roses. Take your time. Enjoy the little things. Heck, enjoy everything! Be mindful and thankful. Psalm 90:12 tells us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. This means we need to use our time wisely, because we don’t get very much of it.
Isn’t it better to just slow down? I mean, really?
When we get in a hurry, things slip through the cracks. Jobs are done shoddily. Mistakes are made. We end up having to go back and re-do stuff. Isn’t it a much better use of our time, if we just slow down and make sure that everything is done correctly to begin with? I think so. And, I think you would agree with me.
So, I don’t know about you, but I am going to focus on taking a step back, taking things down a notch. I am going to be more mindful of my time, of my thoughts, of my words, of my actions. I think God is telling me that this is what I need to do. So, that is my plan. And, I have a feeling that I will be glad I did it. I hear you, Lord. Thank you for all the reminders!
When I hear “do the right thing’, the first thing that comes to my mind is the Spike Lee movie, or joint as he likes to call it. I guess that is because I am a child of the 80’s. But, as a Christian, this should pop into my head each time I have a decision to make. This is the mantra that we should all live our lives by. Why? The simple answer is because that is how Jesus lived. And, as Christians we should want to be more like Jesus; to love and serve others as He did.
Jesus always did the right thing.
But, we are not Jesus. And, I don’t know about you, but doing the right thing can sometimes be very, very hard. Heck, I would venture to say that most the time, doing the right thing is hard. At least, I know it is for me. Why is that??
My first gut instinct is to answer because we are human and we are sinful by nature. While our spirit may want to do what is right, our humanly selves often chose what feels good—not what is right.
This has been at the forefront of my mind a lot lately. Unfortunately, it is because I find myself in a situation where I am struggling to “do the right thing”. In this case, I am not even sure if I know what the right thing is. I have been praying about it. I have talked it over with my husband, who is very grounded and always gives thoughtful and sage advice. I have done research and reading online. I guess I want this situation to magically fix itself. And, maybe with God's help, it can.
(Although, as a side bar, I did come across this fabulous blog post on SheWorksHISWay by Katie McCoy called “Are You a Woman of Kindness…Or Just a Nice Woman?”. And, holy cow—what an insightful, interesting read. Please do yourself a favor and read it after you finish reading this! Being kind and being nice are two VERY different things. Being kind can sometimes mean being tough and strong, something we don’t often think of as going together. And, in my humble opinion, it goes right along with this topic of doing the right thing.)
I want to do what is right. I want to take the high road. I truly believe that we reap what we sow, or in karma, as some people refer to it. I believe in the golden rule and do my best to live it. The problem is that other people don't seem to think the same way I do.
I can't be the only one who feels this way.
In-the-meantime, I will focus on this Bible verse from Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
I don’t know about you, but I want to reap. I want to reap good. So, I must plant good. Even when I don’t want to. This way my conscience will allow me sleep at night. Plus, God will remember it and He will reward me for it one day.
In the Bible, God tells us to “love our enemies” and to do good to everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:15 “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” This is extremely hard to do, especially when it comes to your enemies or people you don’t like. But, do it we must, as we are told to by God. I have to remind myself of this often.
Actually, this is exactly why I have 1 Timothy 6:12 tattooed on my wrist, so I remember to fight the good fight. And, there is no doubt about it, this is a fight. But I will rise above it. This is one fight I intend to win!
I have been wanting to start a prayer journal for a long time now. I know that it would be a great thing for me to do. It would help me remember who and what I am praying for. It is something that is on my “to do” list that I just haven’t taken the time to do yet.
Also for a long time, I have wanted to join a Bible book study group. And, I am so grateful to say that I have finally done that! I had been praying about it, telling God I wanted to join a group of people somewhere close-by who study the Bible and/or Christian books. I asked Him to lead me to a place and to help me find that group of people. Well, He did! About a month ago, I found my group.
Just about every evening I take my dog, Clancey, for a walk around our neighborhood. One evening we were walking down the block and one of neighbors was outside with her little girl. We waved to each other and her little girl wanted to meet Clancey. So, Clancey and I stopped and we all introduced ourselves and chit-chatted for a while. The mom is Leigh and her daughter is Bailey Grace. We hit it off right away. It was so nice. Making friends in your neighborhood is always a good thing!
From that point on, we would often see other in passing and stop and talk for a bit. One evening Leigh was driving by with Bailey Grace and they stopped to say hello. I could hear the Joy FM playing in their car. I told them how much I loved that station. They obviously liked it too. Bailey Grace piped up and asked me if I knew God and if I was a Christian. I told her that, yes, I did know God and that I was a Christian. I loved how she asked straight out. (It is an important question and all of us Christians could take a cue from her!)
A short while later, I decided to ask Leigh what church her family went to. I was pleasantly surprised when she told me that her husband was the pastor of a small church in our area. (But, after spending some time with her and Bailey Grace, it made perfect sense. They are such good, down-to-earth people.) Then, she told me about the book club that she hosts at their church. She told me that I was welcome to join them and that most of the ladies who are a part of it are actually members of other churches. Here was God, answering my prayer! I told her that I would love to be a part of it!
I have now been to two meetings, and already I am growing spiritually. It has been such a blessing! Our little group meets every other Saturday and we take time to eat a little and have fellowship before we talk about the book we are reading.
Now, I know what you are thinking; what does any of this have to do with a prayer journal? I am finally circling back around to just that point. Well, we also take prayer requests at each book club meeting. So, I started writing down those prayers requests. And, I have already witnessed God answering those prayers! It is such an amazing and uplifting thing to see. I have known for a long time now that prayer really is powerful, but by keeping a prayer journal and writing stuff down, you can see it more clearly.
So, today I am starting my official prayer journal. I bought a notebook at the store a few weeks ago, and now I have a good use for it! I hope that maybe this will inspire you to start one too! This will be such a great way to see God working in our lives and in the lives of everyone that we pray for. And, in my book, that is a win-win!
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.