Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Counting One Thousand Gifts: June {& a heart lifted up}

My journal entry from June 28th {during last week's denial and chaos} begins with this verse:

Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighed down with dissipation {self-indulgence} and drunkenness and the worries of life...but keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.
Luke 21:34-36

photo by inside your heart
I wrote it down, because it seemed to apply to my life in an admonishing sort of way. And I didn't go looking for a verse to give me specific instruction.  It just "happened" to be in the next chapter of Luke, which I've been reading through recently.  Now, I know the real context of the passage is the "end times" and the getting-worse-of-things before the getting-better-of-things that Jesus is trying to explain, but I think it applies as a general way-of-life encouragement as well.

Life was feeling suffocating, so I prayed...

Lord, my heart and mind are getting overwhelmed and weighed down with the worries of life ~ {and then I made a long list those worries ☺}.There is so much to do and to be to so many and I want to live it out in your strength and with the right perspective ~ that You are the One Who's given the full life, and so You are also the One Who will carry it.  Help me to breath easy and trust You completely.  May I at all times keep mindful of You and Your sovereign power over all.  Also help me to keep in mind Your purposes, which are high and always about Your glory, and not get bogged down in the details.

I looked up the Greek word for "worry" in this passage.  It means "to be drawn in different directions."  Yep, that described me well ~ drawn in many directions, even good directions, sacrificial directions, loving and serving directions, but they were causing me to rely on me and resent the God Who allowed them. Instead of "being on guard" and "keeping alert" to the reality of His purposes and His ultimate return, I was trapped in a selfish mindset by the overwhelming details of this life.

But what about dissipation and drunkenness?  Those are listed before "the worries of life" in the passage as things that will weigh our hearts down. Well, I certainly did not think for one moment that self-indulgence and drinking too much were heart burdening issues in my life.  What wife and mom has time for that? In fact, I recently had a heart-to-heart with a child who lives at my house☺about this very issue.  I was trying to explain that self-indulgence and pleasure-seeking really will  ~ believe it or not ~ weigh our hearts down.  Maybe not immediately, but in the long run it's a guarantee. I'm not sure the child bought my theological sales pitch against laziness and for work and service unto others, but they are sure to find out eventually.  We are created and designed to find true fulfillment in Christ alone, and because of this truth there will never be any real and lasting satisfaction apart from Him.  It's like gravity, which is also a part of His wise design and creation.  Challenge it for the instantaneous feeling of freedom it gives, and slavery to injury and possible death will be yours. Abundance and freedom are found in heeding the truth principle of gravity.  Both of these truths are among His many grace gifts to us.

Oh, if I think about it for a moment, I can find areas where I also indulge in selfishness that I believe will bring lasting freedom and joy {iced coffee and a magazine by myself at Barnes and Noble? a massage and a manicure? a romantic getaway with my husband?}.  Not that there's anything wrong with indulging in those things! At the very least, I long for certain pleasures {free time? more money? peace and quiet? Mediterranean cruise?}, believing that they will satisfy above and beyond Christ.

God's wrath was satisfied by the payment for sin by Jesus.  My heart is satisfied in the recounting and living in that lavish and undeserved gift of forgiveness. Counting His daily gifts of grace to me on top of the grace already given by the Cross also helps my heart to be lifted up and not weighed down. {Grace upon grace?  It's astonishing!} His command to give thanks and rejoice in Him always gives me strength and a godly perspective in the midst of  a heart-burdening world.

Here is my gift list for June ~ a bit late, but now you know why. {Oh well!}

1. My neighbors' blossoming tree (orange)
2. Fresh  peppers to dip and crunch (orange)
3. Coconut Curry Chicken (orange)
4. A toddler's voice (funny)
5. Old photos (funny)
6. Facebook interactions (funny)
7. Elizabeth ~ a visitor/church alumni (in today's conversations)
8. Emilia ~ coffee dates, a note to Robert (in today's conversations)
9. Robert ~ theology conversations (in today's conversations)
10. Sabbath rest (in Christ)
11. Loving acceptance (in Christ)
12. Abundance (in Christ)
13. Guilt-free assurance and rest (of peace)
14. Seeing transformation in myself and others (of hope)
15. A sermon-loaded iPod by Robert (of love)
16. Hard talks with my dad (ugly-beautiful)
17. Reluctant repentant tears (ugly-beautiful)
18. Hurried hospitality (ugly-beautiful)
19. "So that the Word of God will not be dishonored..." Titus 2 (in what I'm reading)
20. "So that the opponent will be put to shame..." Titus 2 (in what I'm reading)
21. "So that they will adorn the doctrine of our God and Savior..." Titus 2 (in what I'm reading)
22. The dishwasher by a child (emptied)
23. A drink offering of service poured out (emptied)
24. My house...on a rare occasion (empty)
25. Game of Things responses (that really made me smile)
26.  Kory and Coop impersonating NBA hot-shots (that really made me smile)
27. Kayla's description of inappropriate Father's Days cards @ Wal-Mart (that really made me smile)
28. Call from Karla to share grief (gift at 8am)
29. New friends for Sunday lunch (gift at 12pm)
30. Laughing over Kory's van/garage/side-view mirror incident (gift at 2pm)
31. My fingers and toes today (painted)
32. A beautiful picture of Jesus with words (painted)
33. Kayla's Eiffel Tower picture (painted)
34. My Challenge 1 class for fall! (full)
35. A heart of/with thanks for my dad, my bro, and my husband (full)
36. Big jar of homemade granola (full)
37. Lemon poppy seed cake in oven (smelled)
38. Rain (smelled)
39. Coffee (smelled)
40. A note and a gift card from Tallie (unexpected)
41. Opportunity to forgive and love (unwanted)
42. Compliment from a church member (unlikely)
43. "When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said, "Woman, you are freed from your sickness" Luke 13 (in His Word)
44. "And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for 18 years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?" Luke 13 (in His Word)
45. "Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today, and tomorrow and the third day I reach my goal." Luke 13 (in His Word)
46. Laundry ~ dirty to clean (moving)
47. 14 mile bike ride (moving)
48. My heart toward His (moving)
49. Provision (in my dad)
50. Love of travel and activity (in my dad)
51. Humor and fun (in my dad)
52. His clear and tender voice (from my Heavenly Father)
53. His intimate care (from my Heavenly Father)
54. His involvement in the details of my life (from my Heavenly Father)
55. Privilege (in serving)
56. Practice (in serving)
57. An instrument of blessing in my life (in serving)
58. Women in prayer (bent)
59. Hannah's eyes, life, and redemption story (beautiful)
60. My kids (loved)
61. New morning mercies (in light)
62. Removal of fear (in light)
63. Summer warmth and beauty (in light)
64. Ministry (difficult ~ at times)
65. Sanctification (difficult)
66. An abundance of relationships (difficult ~ at times)
67. Books at Gospel Coalition Conference (around a table)
68. Women eating at the resort pool grill in the downpour (around a table)
69. Real conversations while waiting for airplane (around a table)
70. Swim laps in a  beautiful resort pool in the rain (in water ~ DOUBLE water!)
71. Paige Benton Brown's Temple sermon (in words)
72. A new book on biblical femininity (in white)
73. A loving 50+ year marriage (in someone older)
74. Continued passion and service to Christ (in someone older)
75. Wisdom and acceptance (in someone older)
76. $12 summer blouse at TJ Maxx (in fabric)
77. A heavy handmade quilt on a basement futon (in fabric)
78. Tablecloth on the picnic table for summer family dining (in fabric)
79. Photo of Robert, Martin, Greg, and Josh (framed by a frame)
80. Pencil portraits by Laura (framed by a frame)
81. Movie on the laptop in bed (framed by a frame)
82. Homemade granola (eaten)
83. FroYo at a new downtown store (eaten)
84. 17th Birthday fajitas with friends (eaten)
85. Two notes of encouragement in my mailbox (small)
86. Visit from Karla from Oklahoma (big)
87. Girls night out and Mama Iguana's Mexican food (just right)
88. Help to a new friend (I gave)
89. Understanding and encouragement to a child (I gave)
90. Care packages for traveling (I gave)

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