In Luke 2, verses 19 and 51, we see that in the midst of the many responsibilities of being a wife and mother, Mary took time to contemplate what was happening in her life and to meditate on what God had done.
Being reflective is one of the hardest thing for a woman in the 21st century for one simple reason: it takes time. Life is crazy, and there are demands on us all of the time. When we finally do have a few minutes to ourselves, our default is to play a game on our phones, watch a TV show, or do some other mindless activity just to "de-stress."
But when we don't take the time to reflect on our lives, on what God is doing and how He is working in our lives we can miss out on so much! When we reflect on God's goodness through the blessings in our lives, we find joy. When we meditate on His sovereignty through the stresses of the day (or week, or month), we find peace and comfort. When we remember the ways He's answered our prayers, we find hope and encouragement. And through all of it, we grow.
God is always at work around us. Let's make sure we don't miss it - let's take the time to reflect on what's going on around so that we can be encouraged and strengthened and grow closer to God through the process.
I marvel at this aspect of Mary's life, because I so easily give into the temptation to WHINE instead of WORSHIP. And when I consider what makes me whiny, it’s always something so insignificant, especially when compared with what Mary was facing. For me it could be I overslept my alarm, or maybe I was overcharged and have to call the internet company. Sometimes I’m just tired and I don’t feel being nice to someone, yet God has pushed them right in front of me to interact with. And I whine.
Mary faced incredible difficulties – difficulties with her family, with Joseph, with the culture around them. She faced physical difficulties of carrying a child and the childbirth to come – without medication! And she would face many more than she did not even know yet. And she worshiped.
Instead of focusing on our inconvenience, or on our fear, or on our exhaustion, let’s choose to focus on God – let’s choose gratitude for His wonderful acts, His mercy, and for choosing us to be part of His plan to reach those around us.
What you think about is more important you may realize.
On the surface, we all know this. But it’s what’s lurking below the surface that’s the most dangerous. It’s those thoughts we don’t even realize we’re thinking. The things we don’t know we’re telling ourselves. The initial fears and doubts that run through our minds so fast that we’ve emotionally and physically reacted before we even realized what was happening.
The more I consider the power of fear in my life and in the lives of those I’ve worked with over the years, the more convinced I am that fear is the single most underestimated tool in the Enemy’s arsenal. I believe that’s why, in Revelation 21:8, the first quality noted of those thrown into the Lake of Fire are the fearful (http://biblehub.com/greek/1169.htm).
But there’s one another tool that has been huge in my life — it’s so simple, but so challenging. It’s something I recommend for homework with many of my counselees and students. However, because it’s so simple, and also so challenging, not many follow through long enough to see the benefit. And to be totally honest with you, there are many times when I myself didn’t see the benefit. Times when I stopped for a while. In fact, there was a period of over a year where I failed to do this. And I noticed the effect most profoundly when I found my notebook from 2014 just a few months ago.
I don’t remember a lot of the details, but I do remember that 2014 had a lot of ups and downs, as tends to happen in life. But as I flipped through this notebook, all I saw were the highlights; and all I remembered was the closeness I had with the Lord during that time; the answers to prayer I was receiving; the joy and the peace I felt. It was my gratitude notebook.
2017 was a hard year for me; my hardest yet.
I have had to rely on everything I’ve learned and been taught in my life; things that I have known since I was a child, yet, up until this year, had little opportunity to put in to practice.
Were it not for the grace of God, I would not be writing this.
I would not be at peace.
I would not have joy.
I would not be okay.
But God is gracious.
He gives us so many great gifts to help us in our times of need and struggle in life.
In a word: passionate.