Even the Little Things

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

One day in the grocery store, I was caught in the fallout of the prevalent “I don’t need a cart” mentality. As I perused the apples, I noticed a man carrying four 2-liter bottles of soda in his arms. Just as he passed me, one of the large bottles slipped from his arms and hit the tile floor. The angle of the impact was just right to be wrong – for me.

The lid popped off and a powerful shower of Coca Cola covered me and my cart. The man glanced at me, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Huh. Who would’ve thought that would happen.” Then he walked away. No apology. No offer to get me a paper towel. When I got home, I not only had to take a shower, I also had to wash all my groceries before I put them away.

Okay, I’ll confess. Many times, I too have gone into the grocery store and decided against getting a cart because I “only need a couple of things.” As I rush down the aisles to get the bread, milk, and bananas I usually end up seeing other things I really need too. Then before you know it my arms are overloaded and I end up leaving a trail of things behind me as I make my way to the checkout line.

Unfortunately, I do the same thing with life’s little problems and stresses. When just one or two small things come along I often fail to turn them over to God. “I can handle that… and I can handle that…” But before I know it I’m weighed down with a myriad of things I really can’t handle on my own.

If you are anything like me you may sometimes find it harder to cope with life’s little things than the major trials. I trust too much in myself and too little in God. In my sinful independence and arrogance I think, “I can do this. I don’t really need to bother God with this one.” But when I fail to give everything to God right away – no matter how seemingly insignificant – all those little things tend to mount up into one giant mess.

Are you weary from trying to carry an armload of life’s troubles all by yourself? Jesus urges us to bring all our burdens to Him:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give your rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

David, the shepherd boy and great king of Israel, intimately knew the great Burden Bearer: Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.  Psalm 55:22 NIV

So did the Apostle Peter: Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 NIV

Don’t wait until you’re buried under a pile of cares before you come to Jesus. Bring the first one and every one to Him.

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The Importance of Remembering to Turn to God Even in The Little Things – wisdom from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: Kathy Howard encourages women to live an unshakable faith for life by standing firm on our rock-solid God no matter life’s circumstances. The author of 8 books and a former “cultural Christian,” Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education. Kathy and her husband have 3 married children and 4 grandsons. Find out more and get free discipleship tools and leader helps at her website: www.kathyhoward.org.

Join the conversation: What do you need to bring to Him today?

 

I Love It When a Plan Comes Apart

by Kaley Rhea @KaleyFaithRhea

The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.  Luke 8:38-39

Tell me if I’m the only one. But sometimes I get an idea in my head about how my day is going to go. I’m not even a to-do list kind of person or a details kind of person or an itinerary kind of person. Yet somehow I’ll have these moments when an unexpected phone call or something else unplanned throws my preconceived idea of today, of right now, off. And all my brain alarms go wild and my insides warn, “Error, error. Please return to regularly scheduled life-having.”

To be clear, this is a ridiculous phenomenon I’m talking about.

“I didn’t realize the trashcan was full, and now I have to take the trash out, and I wasn’t planning on taking the trash out right now. Ugh, worst.”

And “Oh, my friend is calling, and I love talking to her, but wait, we didn’t plan on talking right now; what is she thinking?”

And “Child, why have you vomited on the carpet? We are on our way out the door; I don’t have time for this!”

That moment of internal, irrational push-back I feel when something has intruded into my schedule, into my plans, and worse: requires something of me.

I’m confessing here. Sometimes I live my life with a perspective set about two inches from the end of my nose. I guard my time, my words, my efforts with a sharp eye, unknowingly fixed on only spending them where I see fit. (And I’ve met me. So believe me, I know exactly how hilarious that is.)

Of course, while ruminating on these things, I thought of Jeremiah 29:11. “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘Plans for welfare and not for evil. To give you a future and a hope.’” I feel like we pass this verse out like candy, and I’m glad we do because these words are sweet and so important. Any moment spent remembering that my God knows infinitely more than I do and has made infinitely better plans is a good and essential moment.

But I also couldn’t get the Gerasene demoniac out of my mind. Of all the people in the Bible, he’s where I landed. He had previously been possessed by an entire legion of demons and was living a horrendous, wrecked life. Jesus cast them out of him. Healed him. It was a life-changing miracle.

So the man made this plan to go with Jesus. It seems like a perfectly legitimate reaction to what had happened. A good, appropriate response. So he asked, but Jesus told him to stay. To proclaim the name of Jesus where he was. And the man…did.

It’s a convicting thought for me. Jesus has done a miracle in my life, too: rescued me from my sin. And I think sometimes I have this attitude like, “No, no, Jesus, I’m going to serve you this way and in this place and on this timetable or on this grand scale.” And I miss out on the opportunity that He is laying right in front of me to serve Him and glorify His name. In ways that are simple. In ways that walk right up to me.

But instead of thanking Him for these opportunities, in my heart I’m thinking, “Could you please step aside, opportunity? I’m already on my way to my scheduled God-glorifying, and you are a bit off my route.”

Lord Jesus, snap Your fingers in front of my heart, get it to pay attention. Help me see the things I miss when I focus on my own plans and my own understanding. Holy Spirit, give me kindness. Help me see people the way You see them. Defeat the selfishness inside of me and replace it with Your love. Help me hold my plans loosely and always ask You to shape them into whatever You will. I trust You with my time and my desires; so help me to hear Your voice over the screeching of my internal tires every time You call me to an unscheduled turn or stop. Let the love I have for You overflow into trust, then into obedience, and finally joy. Amen.

TWEETABLE
I Love It When a Plan Comes Apart – @KaleyFaithRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kaley RheaAbout the author: Kaley Rhea is the St. Louis-area co-author of Christian romantic comedy Turtles in the Road (along with mom, bud, and writing partner Rhonda Rhea) and this year’s non-fiction release Messy to Meaningful: Lessons From the Junk Drawer (co-written with Rhonda Rhea and Monica Schmelter).

Join the conversation: What has God put in your path that felt more like an interruption than an opportunity?

Expectations vs. Expectancy

by Ava Pennington

Have you recently experienced frustration? Something or someone irritated you?  Plans didn’t go your way?

That seems to be happening to me more as of late. I get annoyed at the increased seasonal traffic in south Florida. I’m frustrated by people who don’t follow through on what they said they would do. I’m irritated by circumstances that cause me to make two separate trips to purchase the same item.

But what if the cause of the irritation is not external at all? What if I’m the cause of my own frustration? Someone once said “the level of your frustration is directly related to the level of your expectations.”

Ouch.

So the real cause of my own grief is most likely…me.

Knowing we live in a broken world, why do I go through life expecting people to respond perfectly? Especially when I know I don’t!

Understanding that our little town experiences a population surge during the winter season, why do I get annoyed at the increased traffic?

Failing to take the time to plan properly, why am I surprised that one task requires multiple trips to the store?

Unrealistic expectations. Expectations grounded in reality as I want it to be, rather than the way it is.

Ancient Israel had a similar problem. Their expectations of the coming Messiah were based on cherry-picked prophecies. The sad result was that they didn’t recognize Him when He did come. They were so busy looking for a victorious military leader that they missed the Suffering Servant who came to redeem humanity.

So what’s the answer?

I believe the answer for a Christian is to live expectantly.

To live expectantly is to live in without setting specific expectations or demands on what that will look like. Living expectantly allows us to recognize where the Holy Spirit might be moving in areas we would not normally look for Him. And it communicates that we are satisfied with whatever the Lord does, allows, or gives—without comparing it to our own agenda or shopping list.

Those who live expectantly have the privilege of living out a truth understood by martyred missionary Jim Elliot: “God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with him.”

Will you join me? Together, let’s put aside our expectations and live in daily expectancy for how God will show Himself active in our life. And as He does, share your experiences with others to increase their own sense of expectancy.

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3 ESV).

© 2010 Martin Alan Grivjack Photography Martin Alan Grivjack Photography

About the authorAva Pennington is an author, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) teacher, and speaker. Her most recent book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God, is endorsed by Kay Arthur of Precepts Ministries.

Ava has also published stories in 30+ anthologies, including 25 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse.

She is a passionate speaker and delights in encouraging groups with relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit www.AvaWrites.com.

Join the conversation: What expectations do you need to give up in order to live expectantly?

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash