I have about a million other things I should be doing right now, but for this moment, it is good for me to stop and write instead of simply completing my daily tasks. Dishes are piling up, laundry is still sitting on the living room floor from yesterday (folded, just not put away), I need to run to the grocery store and I wanted to try to squeeze in a workout before heading to work in two hours. I've decided to accept the fact that my house will not always be clean. When I spend the majority of my time at work cleaning (especially when I have to close the store), I don't feel much like cleaning when I get home. And sometimes other things are just more important. I've tried to be that person that can't go to bed without making sure everything is in order, but it's time to admit I am not that person. The other night I lamented to Sam, "I have no problem going to bed when the house is a mess," to which he replied, with a grin, "Yes, I know." Guess I wasn't fooling him.
So here I sit happily, like a pig in mud, and type away while I sip some coffee. It's hard to be in a bad mood when I start the morning reading a little Valley of Vision, Jesus Calling, and a few chapters of Philippians, not to mention a kitty and some knitting in my lap.
It's Philippians that made me want to stop and reflect. I love this book of the Bible, and particularly love chapter four. It is pretty special to my in-laws, as their favorite verses are in this chapter, as well as Sara's life verse. Throughout her journey with cancer, Sara constantly claimed the truth of Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."
This morning I decided to read the Message version, which puts the Bible into language that's a bit more modern and poetic. There are debates as to whether or not it's "spiritual" enough to read since it's more of a commentary, but I happen to get a lot out of it when I read it, so I keep on, regardless of the critics. Here are some favorite parts of Philippians four. In parenthesis I've included my thoughts on each passage.
"Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in Him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!" (Celebrating God all day? That sounds awesome. Even when I'm working, even when I'm stuck in traffic, even when I'm sitting in my dirty house. And how can I make it clear to every person I meet today that I'm on their side, working with them and not against them?)
"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." (What on earth will I do with my time if I don't spend it all worrying? Oh yes, that's the time I can spend celebrating God. And the knowledge of God's wholeness, and His ability to bring peace never fails to eliminate the worrying, especially when I focus on Him and not whatever it is that worries me.
"Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do your best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies." (Why wouldn't I want to focus on things true, noble, gracious, beautiful? Why would I rather think about the ugly things to curse? Seems like that would make for a pretty miserable life.)
"I've learned now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am." (So focusing on God, meditating on His goodness, and on things that are good and true and beautiful, not on the things that might happen - that aren't true - or the things that disappoint me, can bring contentment whatever my circumstances. Obviously focusing on the bad in life will only result in discontentment, and choosing to praise God for the good will result in gratefulness, fulfillment, and serenity. Amazing how that works out.)
Sorry for the long, drawn-out post, but I was greatly encouraged by this today, motivated to slow down and simply celebrate God, to stop worrying and start celebrating. I just wanted to pass this along, in case it might offer encouragement to anyone else that might need it.
Receive and experience the amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, deep, deep within yourselves.