Before I continue with my thoughts on how God’s Perfect Plan is sometimes very “messy,” it’s the week after Christmas. This time of year I tend to wish there were an extra month at the end just for catching up! If you find yourself after Christmas, as I do occasionally, feeling a little “let down,” discouraged or out of sorts, (usually, in my case, due to the effects of MSG) here are my tried-and-true methods for a quick recovery:
- Get a little extra sleep, or at least, regular sleep
- Eat right (more veggies; less, or no sugar:)
- If you’re feeling a little down or depressed, realize that it may (though not always) be due to over-pushing yourself physically (possibly “abusing” yourself), over the last few weeks–and give yourself some grace by not setting high expectations while you’re recovering and getting back on track
- Be in the Word of God daily (this should be first on the list)
- Clean up your house a little? (If it looks like mine does after Christmas:)!
- Get a little fresh air and exercise
This week is also typically a time of reflection–looking back over the year–and looking forward–making decisions about what the Lord would have us do and be in the coming year. I’ve been thinking lately about how God’s thoughts are not my thoughts and how I need to align my thoughts with His. Reading God’s Word is paramount and essential in this endeavor.
I am reading many chapters of the Bible each day this week, trying to finish my goal of reading through the Bible in a year–knowing I will not reach that goal, though, since I decided to “go for it” some time after January 1 last year, and haven’t followed the schedule perfectly. But I’m still seeking to finish as close to the end of the year as possible. Reading through the Bible in a year isn’t a legalistic goal for me, because my goal in having a “Quiet Time” is to spend time with the Lord, to hear from Him through His Word, and to obey what He tells me, but reading the whole Bible does help me to know better His full will and thoughts and it’s a goal that I recommend, though I caution you not to think you’ve sinned if you don’t reach it.
I use a Bible Reading Plan from Discipleship Journal (NavPress), which I print out and keep in the cover of my Bible. I encourage you, whatever method (or schedule) you use, to plan your reading and set a goal for the year. Having a reading plan has helped me to become more consistent in Bible reading.
Yesterday I spoke about God’s perfect plan sometimes being very “messy”–a term I use to describe circumstances which we would not look at as the most desirable or not having things “go well” or smoothly. How do I respond when things are “not going well” or as I would have them? Often we find ourselves in a position of going through a trial due to “no fault of our own,” but because of someone else’s choices or actions. I’ve been thinking about how God has made our lives so interrelated, and just how much we affect one another. This is His perfect plan.
When we open ourselves up, as Jesus has commanded, to love one another, we make ourselves vulnerable. Our lives will be affected by the actions of others. Their, and our, beliefs, choices, decisions and actions have a ripple effect. This is a sobering thought as I think about how I’m affecting others’ faith and lives by my choices and actions.
In terms of life being “messy” sometimes, yet in God’s perfect plan, I can’t help but think of Joseph, who we read of in Genesis. Though the actions of others had a profound, and very “messy,” effect on his life, he was given grace to say in the end, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good.” (Genesis 50:20)
As a believer in Jesus Christ, how I respond to others’ words and actions and the “messes” they make in my life must be dictated by the Word of God. What do I do with my anger? How do I deal with bitterness?* Did God go to sleep? Is this a “mess,” or His purpose, or both? What are His thoughts? His ways are not my ways, and His thoughts are not my thoughts. I ask for His grace to respond in agreement with Him about the “messes” He allows others to cause in my life.
- Are there any trials I’m going through because of others’ choices and actions, which I need to respond to with His thoughts?
- Are there areas in my life that I need to change so that I’m not “messing” up others’ lives?
- Am I practicing “loving one another” and remaining open, or have I closed myself off because I don’t want to be vulnerable?
- How do I need to change my thinking and acting to bring it into alignment with His thoughts and ways?