The Thief is often after the Spirit's fruit in our lives, trying to pluck peace right off the branches. He's sneaky too, as I well know. As soon as this baker turns her back, he, like a conniving child, deftly approaches the window to swipe the cooling pie. Before I realize what is happening, my peace is gone and I am left rather twisted up inside.
Breathing in and out only seems to go so far as I prepare to face the day with this contorted pretzel of a heart. When it is 7 am, and I am already asking 'How fast can I get through the day so I can start all over tomorrow?', something has gone seriously awry.
An Imitator knows what to do though. An Imitator hears the whispers of the Spirit, "Be anxious for nothing" and her frantic fingers frolic to Philippians 4 so she can see the words she has read a million times. An imitator reads about the "guarding" nature of the peace of God. The kind of militant guarding that protects the heart and the mind from enemy attacks as well as keeps her from wanting to flee from what should keep her safe--i.e. the peace of her God. She begins to understand that His peace is about remaining in close connection with her Protector.
Ah, the List. Yet another familiar verse boldly leaping off the page telling her that the way to rid herself of "pretzel heart" is to think on the Far Better, the Greater Eternal things. How many are there? Eight...the number of hours in a typical work day. It doesn't escape her that she knows she needs Him every hour. What if each hour of this Everest-sized work day was spent thinking on each of those different things?
What is true? God is good, sovereign, holy, righteous, loving, gracious and true. He never fails or forsakes. His Word is The Truth in a world of falsehood. He whispers those truths.
What is honorable? Prayer for those saints that need it. Noble actions I can take even this hour that put another above myself.
What is right? The Biblical calls to justice. Fighting for the weak, encouraging the fainthearted, Valiant ways of upholding God's standard. The zeal of the Lord to protect the innocent.
What is pure? Void of lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride in possessions. Conversations free from gossip, slander, malice, coarse joking, complaining. Filled with holiness and clean motives.
What is lovely? All the lovable things God has made from nature to laughter.
What is commendable? Gracious thoughts towards others which can start by dwelling on the gracious nature of God Himself. Forgiveness. Favorable thoughts toward God, others, and even self.
What is excellent? Ethics, virtues, morals. The power of God.
What is worthy of praise? Why, none other than God Himself and His deeply diverse character.
There isn't much room for empty calories when her thoughts can feed on such valuable nutrition. When she takes all of "these things" into account, how can every passing hour not be fully satisfied in His rich peace? If this is what brings the "peace that surpasses understanding," then oh! may she willingly choose to set her mind on things that are above and not on things that are on earth.
For that will make any Imitator a better copy of the Original.
Whoa. The last time I launched my thoughts in such an exposed format was Xanga. Unless, of course, you count Facebook statuses, which I do not. For this will be likely more revealing and hopefully downright humbling. Even if no one reads it.
Yeah, I know. I'm late in the game to the whole blogging thing. That fact nearly caused me to reconsider adding this little tab to my website at all. I mean, once you've read one blog or one person's thoughts, haven't you read them all? What HASN'T been done? Each one straining to offer something completely original. The right side of our brains began to be stretched even further with the birth of Pinterest as we "oohed and aahed" over clever solutions to problems and were amazed by the resourcefulness of others. It seems that now the "race to the top" is not simply about getting there first, but about having something "never been seen before." Yes, it is the Time of the Artist and Age of the Innovator. As someone who falls into those categories, I say, FINALLY.
But HOW do we possibly stand out in the Ingenious Sea where so many are exceptional visionaries? In nearly all creative fields, the adage "It's all about who you know" is certainly the driving force for propelling someone forward. And of course, social media and our increased access and availability to people all over the world makes marketing one's personal portfolio practically child's play. (Apparently failure can only come from sheer ignorance or laziness.) But even with all these outlets, I think it has less to do with OUR efforts and OUR promotion and more to do with God's OMNIPOTENCE, SOVEREIGNTY and CHOREOGRAPHY. If it had MORE to do with us, wouldn't that mean somehow we were greater than Him? If He must increase and I must decrease (John 3:30), then that should even be the motivating factor in my getting noticed. More and more of HIM should be somehow displayed. I mean, even JESUS promoted His Father first. "'Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. '" (John 5:19)
And maybe deeper still, WHY is it so important that people know me? To make getting noticed a true art form, it boils down to MOTIVE. In my current situation, it would be so easy to say I'm putting myself out there so I can get a job and pay my bills so I can have the safety and security that a good ol' independent American needs. It's a good thing that's NOT my goal. I'd be miserably failing. But if my goal is "doing everything to the glory of God" (Col. 3:17), and for HIS NAME'S SAKE, then God sees a humble heart, and we know that's just the kind of heart He can work with (Psalm 18:27). And then I don't have to worry about whether all my promotional efforts come to anything because now His interests and mine are ALIGNED (i.e. for HIS glory), and so He does the work to bring the fruit: the job that will best keep me humble so that His Name can continue to be advertised.
O Lord, please keep us ever humble that it may never be about us and ever, only all about You. For there is none like you O Lord who is worthy to be praised and honored and magnified. We praise you for all the ways you have made Yourself known in our own lives; Your power is infinitely mighty and strong. Thank you for being such a magnificent Jehovah Jireh, providing for one need after another.
What do YOU think is pivotal to getting noticed?
Brittany Van Ryn
Working out thoughts with HIM.