For what is your life? James asked. It is only a vapor for a little time then vanishes away.
Talk about putting things in perspective.
I know you'll find this hard to believe, but I threw a temper tantrum today. I have an average size plate with an average size fork, and I'm sitting in my spot minding my own business. And yet, people (and myself) keep piling things on my plate. They do look good, mind you. Smell good and taste good. But, when the stuff gets stacked two feet high, there is a feeling of overwhelming that pervades my stomach. Ever been there? Don't worry, you will, because we all do it. People have noticed that busy people are the ones that get things done, so that is who they call to get something done. Today, something got plopped on my plate that just splattered everything else on it all over me. I blew up. Have you ever tried to pray when you're angry? Either the prayer hovers somewhere around your ankles or you suddenly find the anger dissapating and peace invades your heart. I'd much rather have the latter happen than the first, wouldn't you?
While I was still seething, I knew I was in no mood to write my column or to study the Sunday School I must teach this week, but I plowed on rummaging through files on my computer hunting a reference for an article I was going to write. I didn't find the reference, but I found something Angela Hunt wrote several years ago.
I love finding those little gems that I've saved over the years. I saved Life fillers and Life drainers by Angela Hunt ages ago. I often wonder how God brings those things to light that we need at just the precise moment we so desparately need to hear them. In her blog posting, she talks about those things that can either fill your life or drain it away. I emailed her and asked if I could use it in my January ladies retreat and she said, "Absolutely! It's yours." As it turned out, I used something else back in 2002, but God has a wonderful way of bringing things to the forefront when we need them the most. Then, He emphasizes what we need to hear when we need it most, then reminds us why we are hearing it.
I didn't save the link to the post, or I'd give it to you to read for yourself. But, since I have permission... I'll share some of her post with you here.
I've discovered in my forty-plus years that life is filled with activities that can suck you in like the Mafia. The evil one would love to distract us from from doing what is best with doing what is harmful, neutral, or merely good. The trick is learning to discern which activities are life-fillers and which are life-drainers. What may be an "LF" for me may be an "LD" for you, and vice versa. But here are some specific examples from my experience.
Life-drainer: accepting a position on my neighborhood's board of directors.
Life-filler: starting a neighborhood book club (where we frequently discuss spiritual themes).
Life-drainer: working seven days a week.
Life-filler: taking a Sabbath and keeping it holy.
Life-drainer: bad books, bad movies, bad TV.
Life-filler: good books, good movies, great TV.
Life-drainer: trying to exercise someone else's spiritual gift.
Life-filler: exercising mine.
Life-drainer: joining a fitness club.
Life-filler: hitting the treadmill every morning while watching good TV.
Life-drainer: trying to be all things to all people.
Life-filler: finding my God-ordained niche and filling it.
Miscellaneous life-drainers: purposeless meetings, trying to maintain fake nails, window shopping, foolish arguments, email chain letters and urban myths.
Miscellaneous life-fillers: any time spent encouraging children, a good hair cut, time spent with my hubby, shopping with a purpose, riveting debates with friends who speak the truth in love, going back to school to keep learning.
In order to fill your creative well, you have to let LIFE drop into it. In order to maintain your spiritual life, you have to feed it daily. God has placed you in a specific place, time, and situation for a reason . . . and you need to examine the elements of your life and make sure you're using your time in the best way possible.
So, why waste any time being upset about anything? I can control what gets put on my plate, thank you. Will whatever has happened make a difference next week, next month, a year from now? If it does, then take Dale Carnegie's advice. Figure out the absolute worst case scenario. Decide the best course of action if that happens. Then forget about it. Someone once said that Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% what we do about it.
I disagree with that. I think most people worry 90% of their life about perhaps only 1% of the things that actually do happen. Life is what we make of it. If we are perpetually unhappy, then we live unhappy and discontented lives. What do we have to be unhappy or discontent about, I ask you? Paul wrote to the Corinthians in his second letter...
2 Corinthians 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as beside myself.) I being beyond them: in labors, more abundantly; in stripes, beyond measure; in prisons, much more; in deaths, many times. 24Five times I received forty stripes minus one from the Jews. 25 I was flogged three times; I was stoned once; I was shipwrecked three times; I have spent a night and a day in the deep. 26 I have been in travels often, in dangers of rivers, in dangers of robbers, in dangers from my race, in dangers from the nations, in dangers in the city, in dangers in a wilderness, in dangers in the sea, in dangers among false brothers, 27 in hardship and toil, often in watchings, in hunger and thirst, often in fastings, in cold and nakedness, 28 besides the things outside conspiring against me day by day, the care of all the assemblies.
So what was I angry about? I cannot remember and it makes no difference now because the perspective has shifted. Be still and know God.
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