Discombobulated: When Your World Goes Awry

by Patti Richter

As a child, I always hoped to draw the “cozy cottage” card when playing The Game of Life. It was not until years later, as I began unpacking boxes in a much smaller home than what we had left behind, that I realized the folly of my game plan.

It may not have been a life-threatening ordeal, but my new challenge sure felt like preparation for the next life. The cross-country move, saying goodbye to family and friends, and down-sizing to that interim home tilted my world a few degrees off its axis.

As I had packed, my mother-in-law warned me, “It’s much easier to move up than down.” Her words proved true as I tossed perfectly good furniture and household items overboard. I commiserated with America’s settlers who abandoned bedsteads and pianofortes alongside wagon trails to lighten their load.

I wasn’t the only one struggling. For weeks, my husband had repeated Luke 12:15 (NIV) like a mantra to console himself: “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  His power tools and lawn equipment didn’t make the keep-list, either.

Just one week into the unpacking, I had thrown everything else aside in the interest of making our new place comfortable and homey. But I soon realized it would take months of undivided attention to accomplish that goal. This was a luxury I did not have, as I believed God had brought us to this place for a better purpose, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV). I knew my time was not my own. I needed to center my priorities on however the Lord led me to serve.

I used to think ill of King Solomon for his priorities. He spent seven years in building God’s temple. But after it was complete, he then spent thirteen years on his own house (1 Kings 6:38 – 7:1). Now, after moving and becoming consumed with me, myself, and dozens of unopened boxes, I realized Solomon actually did have his priorities right: He put God’s house first.

Whenever life takes a turn, whether toward adventure or misadventure, it’s easy to become self-focused and lay aside the things that really matter. While our faith might be fully functional when life is in order, new circumstances can disrupt our “holy habits.” Bible study, devotions, corporate worship, fellowship, outreach, and service to others can get put on hold or completely drop off our radar screen if we’re not careful.

We can too easily fall for the lie: if I can just get this list of things done, I will turn my attention to more spiritual matters.

In one of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia books, The Silver Chair, a girl named Jill is summoned to Aslan’s country on a mission to find a missing Narnian prince. But Jill keeps getting distracted and forgets to look for the signs she’d been told to watch for. Fear of the strange surroundings, along with natural desires for creature comforts—food, warmth, clothing—become stumbling blocks to completing what she had set out to do.

The apostle Paul mentioned losing a co-laborer who abandoned their mission, “because he loved this world” (2 Timothy 4:10 NIV). These words finally nudged me to get unpacked enough to be functional and out the door. Even better? Get out the door and let the boxes wait.

[Christ] died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.   2 Corinthians 5:15 NIV

Discombobulated: When Your World Goes Awry – encouragement from Patti Richter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

Patti is the co-author of Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an

indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: What challenges have made you lose sight of important priorities? How did you rectify the situation?

Connecting the Dots—Or Maybe Chasing Them

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I was watching the cat wildly chase a laser dot the other day, and I thought, Wow, if that red dot was a Butterfinger, that could totally be me.

Those wild moments are the times I think Sammy could be the poster animal for the cat version of ADHD. It’s weird, because that poster cat is the same cat who can also be extremely focused. Any and every new item we bring into the house has to endure a thorough and focused Sammy-sniffing. Personally, I think that’s when he’s trying to determine whether or not his entire body will fit inside whatever it is. And if it’s even close—even if it’s not close—he ignores the fact that he has a BMI that’s got to be pushing 50, and he’s in. Maybe not all in, but in.

While my body mass numbers aren’t as bad as Sammy’s, they’re not so good that I can mock him as much as I’d like. And although I’ll go after most chocolate with laser-dot enthusiasm, any time I start climbing into a bag that looks like it’ll hold about 20% of me, somebody may need to take me to a see a professional. I’m wondering if the toughest part would be trying to decide if it should be a physician, a psychiatrist, or a veterinarian.

I have to say, though, that sometimes Sammy might have the right idea. Distractions can be time-stealing brutes, and they’ve earned their bad rep. But as contradictory as it may sound, I really don’t think distractions always have to result in negative productivity. They don’t always have to be bad. Only sinful distractions are bad.

Have you ever been working so diligently on a project that you thought your head might explode? Following a little distraction for a few minutes can sometimes sort of “reboot” our creative mojo.

I confess, every once in a while, a “mental Butterfinger” can help me get back to a task with renewed enthusiasm. Nothing sinful, mind you. Some music, a walk, a few minutes of reading, maybe. The Lord can even spark new ideas in some of those laser-dot moments. And that gives one pause. (“Pause.” Not “paws.”) The trick is to figure out if we’re procrastinating to avoid something we need to stay focused on, or if we’re instead taking a little respite from it so we can re-energize.

We do need to be careful, though, that we don’t climb into a distraction that’s smaller than we are. Sammy still doesn’t get this. We have big things to accomplish for the Kingdom, through the One who empowers us. Spending time getting refreshed is one thing. Killing time on tiny things is another. Paul tells us to be careful about spending, not killing, our time. “Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise, sensible, intelligent people, making the very most of the time…firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17, AMP).

We spend our time well when we spend it wisely and with His purposes ever in mind—even when we’re chasing a dot.

Endeavoring to live purposefully in His will? I’m in. All in. Me and my entire body mass index.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 NASB

Connecting the Dots—Or Maybe Chasing Them – thoughts from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: How do you prioritize use of your time? Do you have any tips to share?