Three things on my to-do list:
1. Love God more.
Because that is the greatest command of all. Until a few years ago, I perceived it a burden to love God. At times it’s as if it doesn’t come naturally. But that’s because in any relationship between two people, there is a mutual participation in talking and listening that requires attention – and that can be pretty hard when we’re in relationship with someone who isn’t physically there and who isn’t always inclined to make themselves obviously known. I guess that’s where the faith bit comes in – a test of where we have placed our hearts.
These past weeks have been a massive learning curve. I’d found myself in a very dark place. Perhaps you can relate to that. This world can be harsh, but only because we cannot understand each other’s struggles – we must fight our own battles and that can be really difficult. But as I looked towards Jesus – and started rejoicing in Him and understanding Him to be a God who really does want the best for us, I felt joy and peace grow inside me. Because here’s the thing: if God is good – and the Bible tells us that He is – then to be in His presence must be the most amazing thing ever. If God is love, then His being must be full of warmth and hope. Most people think that goes against all the harsh laws we find in the Old Testament. But we cannot enter His presence without being holy, and in order to be holy, we must be clean of all sin. God clearly wants us to be in His presence!
2. Become the person God is turning me into.
It’s a strange phenomenon, the way God works. Do you ever wonder whether God is allowing you to experience difficulties to make you stronger, or if He’s allowing you to become stronger because of the difficulties you are experiencing? Either way, He’s found a way of forming beauty from the ashes. We cannot stop the things that come our way, and sometimes we create our own mess by slipping and sinning. But we can allow God to enter our lives (or re-enter as in my case far too often), and make of it what He will. Looking back, I feel like I have been a barrier, standing in God’s way. That’s when bitterness and hurt are greater than His ability to do great things. I always found it difficult to understand why it would be a good thing to humble ourselves and become nothing. But now I’ve come to realise two things: when we see greater value in ourselves than in others, we believe in our ability to achieve great things on our own, and in doing so, we can fail to recognise our downfall – sin. Sin is based on our own responsibility, on our own choices. Denying our own abilities means to allow God work in and through us – His doing, not ours; pure, powerful, and sin-free. As we allow this to happen, there is an obvious change within us. The Bible compares this process to the burning of a clay pot in a clay oven, or the chiselling away of iron – obviously painful, but beneficial, because the end product is something that does not resemble the old product in the slightest. By denying ourselves, we are allowing Someone greater to create something amazingly beautiful – the qualities that He placed within us when He first created us are not lost, but enhanced through this process.
I haven’t a clue what’s happening in my life right now. But I know that He cares enough to be involved in everything I do, and as I allow His love and power into my life, I am excited to see the person He is turning me into.
3. Embrace each moment.
The human brain is incredibly complex. The fact that we are able to perceive the world around us and allow what we see and hear to go deeper than the structure of our neurones into what we might call a conscience or soul, is mind-blowing. And yet we often waste a lot of energy on using our brains to think of the past or the future, completely missing out on the present.
“The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.” – Unknown.
In the Christmas service, Jesus’ life was described as being nothing fantastic, nothing big, but full of meaning. As I listened, I thought about how much I want that – a life full of meaning. Even though it’s important not to hide away issues of the past without dealing with them, a life full of meaning can only mean focusing on the meaningful things in life; the things we can use today to change ours, and others’ situations tomorrow. As such, an appreciation of what we have and the blessings we receive each moment is an important part of this.
I want to reach tomorrow and know that I have spent all my energy on focusing on the right things in life as I strive to draw closer to God and allow Him to change me for His glory.