Monday, May 29, 2017

Looking Up When It's More Natural to Look Down

Four months ago, I started working with a personal trainer. Having health challenges and not purposely exercising for over fourteen years, I’ve discovered muscles I didn’t know I have.

Once a week, I hear things like, “This will be challenging, but you can do it!”

And once a week, my brain talks to those muscles and says, “Val says you can do it. You have to do it!”

“Brain to Leg. . . “

This is the conversation that goes on in my head once a week.

It doesn’t feel natural to purposely use a muscle I don’t have to use very often or to make myself move in ways I don’t move on a regular basis.

It’s more natural to just live life as it comes.

But the more I work those muscles, the more Val pushes me to do the challenging thing, and the more I have these conversations with my brain, the stronger I’m getting. Those muscles are starting to work properly.

The unnatural is becoming more natural.

Life's the same way.

We waste our lives if we just take them as they come.

When we forget what they’re all about.

Or Who they’re all about.

The only way I can make certain muscles move is if my brain tells them to move. If I concentrate and make them do something completely unnatural.

And the only way to look up to God when it’s more natural to look down is by having those same kinds of conversations.

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Col. 3:2))
“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Rom. 12:2)

To exercise those muscles that turn our eyes to the One who rules over all, we have to set our minds on God’s truth and not let life come as it will.

We have to tell ourselves to look up.

Not once a week.

But every time we begin to look down.

This world is distracting. Our busy lives are distracting. It’s more natural to just take life as it comes.

But God gave us a Book—not to give us something to do five minutes every day—but to guide our lives and to renew our minds.

We have to be exercised by it.

We have to let its truth move our lives and turn our eyes upward instead of downward.

It’s the only way looking up will become natural.

It’s the only way our lives will be characterized as unwasted.

“The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters.” (Psalm 93:4)

Next Post (June 12): "What Jeremiah Did When He Couldn’t Stop Crying"

Monday, May 15, 2017

How Not to Waste Your Life

Since it came out in 2003, Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper has been on the top of my list of “Books I Should Read Before I’m Ninety."

From its title, I imagined a challenge to be involved in some charitable institution or to prioritize a neglected spiritual discipline.

While these are good and right and encouraged, I found something quite different.

The book warns that we waste our lives when we forget what life is all about.

Or Who it’s all about.

We avoid wasting our lives when we find satisfaction in God alone, no matter what our lives may include.

Imagine walking through an art gallery while constantly looking at the floor.

If the paintings could speak, they would shout at you to look up.

“Look at me! Look at me. Or you’re wasting your visit.”

Too often our gaze turns downward to the petty things of life. We’re distracted by the path, and like a sheep, we’re content to enjoy the puddles. We’re afraid we’ll lose our footing. We’re afraid we’ll miss something. We don’t want to waste our lives.

But, though our lives are built of paths and puddles and petty things, we waste them when we look only at the flooring.

Our God, Who created beauty, holds the world together, and knows our lives inside and out, says, “Look up!”

“Look at Me.”

“And be satisfied.”

An hour seemingly lost. A hard-earned paycheck quickly budgeted away. These weren’t wasted—our lives weren’t wasted—if behind our hours, our paychecks, our pettiness and puddles, we were looking up and finding our satisfaction in God.

Alistair Begg once said, “Life is a huge appetite that can never be satisfied.”

In other words, our deep down appetites won't be satisfied by life alone.

When we delight in the Lord—keeping our gaze on Him—the life we live won’t be wasted. To not miss Him, we need simply to look up. He will keep us from falling and is able to give us joy in the journey.

Before I’m ninety, I hope I’ll get it.

I hope I’ll grasp the truth that life isn’t measured by what we’ve accomplished, who we’ve been, or who we became.

Life is measured by the inner satisfaction we enjoy in the character and faithfulness of God--the One who holds our lives together while we walk the life we’ve been handed.

A true, unwasted life is one that looks up.

“Your lovingkindess is better than life.” (Psalm 63:3)

Next blog post (May 29): "Looking Up When It's More Natural to Look Down"