Friday, September 5, 2008

Choosing YOUR Life

The image here is my paternal great-grandparents and some of their children. My grandfather is the young man in the middle. Granny Land lived to be 102 and was fairly healthy until the last couple of years of her life. Both of her daughters seen in this image also lived to be 100 or right up to it. My grandfather and his brother seen in the picture also lived to be in their late 90s. The joke in our family is that the Lands just old and ugly away, and finally have to be put down because we live forever.

I would hope that I could follow in my great-grandmother’s tradition of living a long and varied life, but I don’t think I’ll make it to 100. First, I don’t tend to follow along the genetic lines of my dad’s family. Another reason why I feel many from my generation won’t live to be 100 has to be our 21st century society.

Sure, I lead a very charmed life in comparison to my grandmother. I have instant information at my fingertips. The only information source Granny had was a book….and not many of those. I have three college degrees. Granny barely finished grade school. I have every timesaving device you can think of from a washing machine and a dryer, a phone, a vacuume, and a cell phone. Granny saved time by hitching a plow to a plowhorse, washed her dishes by hand three times a day, and she raised her children instead of having the luxury of allowing others to care for her brood.

I have a book I carry with me to schedule my appointments and to make my life easier. Granny didn’t need one. Her only appointment consisted of a meeting with God and other believers on Sunday morning. I can vote. My great-grandmother could not do for many years. Heck, I have a car that can sense water on the windshield and immediately the wipers begin on their own and end on their own. I mean why do I want to expend my energy to push a button? I don’t think my great-grandmother knew how to drive other than driving a plowhorse or a wagon.

Other than having a loving God, a loving man, and loving children my great-grandmother and I have little in common, yet we like to think we have it so much better than our ancestors. Things are so much better now.

But are we just fooling ourselves?

It just seems to me that for all our efforts to save time and make our lives easier all we have really accomplished is we have produced a very frenzied and wild ride for ourselves. Many of my friends express being tired, being over scheduled, and giving in to a cyle of frustrations, compulsions, and depression all in the name of having a charmed life with timesaving devices and freedom to do what we want, yet, most of us aren’t having the life we want.

This is not the life my great-grandmother would want for me, and it certainly isn’t the life God wants for us either.

The NIV translation for Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us….Be very careful, then, how you live---not as unwise but as wise making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Recently I was fortunate enough to hear a sermon regarding making the best use of our time, and three points to remember were provided. First, we need to get our priorities straight. We have to know what is important, and we have to have a plan.

Proverbs 17:24 teaches….A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth. Being a discerning man also means we need to know when to be quiet and allow God’s plan to come into view. Often we race around on our own at a hurly-burly pace, but our plans are contrary to God’s, and this is the very reason we end up in cycles of being busy... yet there is no growth... only stagnation. Scripture gives us an answer for this problem. In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his stepsProverbs 16:9.

Anxiety is the catalyst and the byproduct of our busy lives. A catalyst because we latch on to certain ideals and mores society promotes such as the superwoman ideal. Recently I was given an opportunity to discuss the need for taking time for ourselves with a group of women at my church. I told them that I believe some of the distress my peers—the girls of the 60s and 70s—feel as grown members in our society today—is we were constantly told we could do anything. We could have it all and be everything—the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect career, the perfect volunteer, the perfect friend, the perfect aunt, the perfect daughter and daughter-in-law. However, no one told us what a toll it would have on our psyches—the constant drive to have it all.
We need to lighten up. By this I mean we need to turn off our own life and turn to God’s light. The Bible clearly explains….Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it downProverbs 12:25, and if I truly want to be like Granny Land and live to 100 or beyond…a relaxed attitude lengthens a man’s life….Proverbs 14:30.

We are meant to enjoy our lives…not endure them.

Look to the example Jesus set for us. He was never in a hurry. He always took time with his Father and held to the promise of Proverbs 14:26 which reminds us… He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge...From God’s perspective our concerns our very small because our ultimate focus should be being about our Father’s business.

I truly believe that we all need to stop and take stock of our lives from time to time to see how we are spending our lives.

Are our actions focused on God and His business?

Are we spending the right kind of time with our Father?

Does our life game plan need to be tweaked a bit?

Do you really trust God? In this life you exchange your soul for something…..What are you willing to exchange?
Here's a hint...He doesn’t want our religion. He wants our relationship.


WD Favour said...

I'm reminded of Mary and Martha! Jesus told Martha, "You are worried and upset about many things...but Mary has chosen that which cannot be taken away from her..." I think every christian ought to have a copy of this post on their desk top to knock us back into shape every now and then.
Most importantly, I believe we also need the help of the Holy Spirit to keep from being infected by the anxious pace of this present world...This is a very timel post and I'm glad to read it. I came across it at the Christian blog carnival...

elementary historyteacher said...

Thank you so very much for your very kind words. Yes, I think of Mary and Martha very often during my busy weeks. However, I have to tell you that a recent unexpected surgery and time of recooperation has really slowed me down of late and made me think. It should take that for everyone to "get it."

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