Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In Other Words: Regaining Control

Note for participants: Mr. Linky is a funny little guy this week! If you are unable to see where to add your blog, click on the comments section at the end: There are 2 links that say comments...use the first one. At the bottom of the other comments is the form.

What would happen if we stopped lamenting about the fifty things we can't control and focused our attention on the fifty thousand things we can control? What would happen if we stopped whining about things we have the power to change and finally took charge of our lives and changed them? What would happen if we stopped borrowing sorrow from tomorrow? If we got in the habit of asking ourselves, "What's on my plate today?"
~Karen Scalf Linamen
Chocolatherapy: Satisfying the Deepest Cravings of Your Inner Chick

"What if, instead of reaching for chocolate at the end of a long day, women reached for God to satisfy their cravings? This book [Chocolatherapy] helps women gain a deeper understanding of their emotions and what it is they really need. " ~Lifeway Christian Stores

Fear seems to be a dominant characteristic of many lives. We all know women who have been believers for many decades who should by now be considered "dear old saints of God." But fear and worry are so prominent in their lives that it dominates their conversation and robs them of their joy.

The Scripture is very specific about the difference between cares (concerns) and fear (anxiety).

"Fear is right when it is reverence toward God because of His holiness." (The Woman's Study Bible, 1995 Thomas Nelson Publishers)
The Lord of hosts, Him shall you hallow; let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread. ~Isaiah 8:13 [NKJV]
Worry is always wrong because it strangles active faith.

We live in financially precarious times. People are loosing life savings that they expected to see them through their retirement years. This seems like it would be a good excuse to worry.
...focus on the fifty thousand things we can control.
As believers we have a responsibility to face difficult circumstances with faith in Almighty God - Jehovah Jireh: The Lord Who Provides.

What practical ways can we focus on the things we can control?
  1. Shop responsibly - This is a time to make meal plans and shop for sale items. Just shopping for two weeks' worth of meals at a time could save a family of four at least $100 a month (that's $1200 in a year).

  2. Play responsibly - That $5 cup of coffee with the atmosphere of fun and funky music in the background might need to be saved for very special occasions. My husband overheard a manager talking to an employee while he was in the drive-thru at McD's. She told the employee to empty the coffee pot every 10 minutes since each pot only costs 37 cents to make. The sale of one cup of coffee pays for three pots to be made. (P.S. Our 100% Columbian whole bean coffee from 8 O'Clock costs less than 4 cents per cup -- and it beat all the major fru-fru coffees in a national taste test. Since I have lots of great music CDs available, maybe I should focus on making a little atmosphere at home!)
Little deliberate steps go a long way toward helping us regain a sense of control in this fragile economy... Even more so in our fragile spiritual lives.

Caring for our families can lead to us being consumed by fear. So many influences threaten a believer's life of faith. These also can be handled practically.
  1. Worship responsibly - Openly praying to the Lord daily sets a wonderful example for those we love. Praising Him in the midst of our daily comings and goings is more precious to God than us dragging ourselves to church because we feel we have to. Relationships are not built in a group. They are built in one-on-one communication. We talk to God through prayer and praise. He speaks to us first through His inspired Scriptures and then through our ministers and other believers.

  2. Love responsibly - It should be evident to our family and friends that our relationship to God is the most important relationship in our lives. For married believers, our spouses should come next, above children, parents, careers.
I have at least 10 books on organization. The writers are all wonderful Christian women with great ideas. But unless I actually apply the ideas, those books are just useless dust collectors cluttering my bookshelves. The number one thing each of these books teaches is prioritizing. First our spiritual lives, then our earthly lives.
What's on my plate today?
I struggle with this even though my children are nearly all grown. Each door of opportunity that opens for me just adds to the list of things I want to get done. It is helpful to make actual lists of tasks. I got this format from a little book I picked up early in my marriage called Meditations for Messies:

Make a list of no more than 10 tasks you want to accomplish today. Next put the items in order of importance (most important to least important). Now try to do the first three things. After that if you have more time and energy, tackle a couple more.

In the evening after you've done all you are going to do, check off the things you got done. Add what you want to do tomorrow, keeping the list at 10 items. Again prioritize the list. Each time an item is checked off, a victory is won over worry, fear, and complaining.

Hint: The number one item on your list each day should be time alone with God. Even 10 minutes of Bible study and prayer will equip you for what lies ahead. And if you list it as priority one...you will always get it done!

If we have fallen into the trap of lamenting things out of our control to the point we can't take charge of our lives, whining instead of getting busy, all hope is not lost. The worry and fear can disappear.

From The Woman's Study Bible:

Linking worry with unbelief, Scripture gives direction for a return to full faith. The road from worry to faith begins with recognition that worry is sin and confession of lack of faith
Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties. ~Psalm 139:23
continues with deliverance
I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. ~Psalm 34:4
and finally ends with the assurance that absolutely nothing can separate you from the love of God who is the great I AM
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors though Him who loved us.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8: 35, 37-39
In place of anxious thoughts you then freely offer thanksgiving from a heart established with trust in God as all sufficient
[She] will not be afraid of evil tidings; [her] heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. [Her] heart is established; [she will not be afraid. ~Psalm 112:7-8

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:6-7
Dear friends, our lives can never be out of control if we are under His control!


Denise said...

Awesome quote, I love your take on it. Be blessed.

MiPa said...

Interesting quote. I'm blessed by what you have written. Thank you for hosting.

Susan said...

Wow, this was GREAT Patricia. Loved all your scriptures and practical advice. Timely word for the days we live in.

Have a blessed day!!

Laurie Ann said...

This quote really set me back on level ground. I loved it! I also loved your take on it, of course. I love the Scriptures you shared and the advice you gave - just perfect!

Susan said...

Hey Patrica,

I don't see where I can put my post? Please explain?

Karen said...

I'm with Susan I can't put in my name on the list of "you're next"

Debbie said...

I participated this morning but can't add the link to my post.

Shelby said...

Isn't it funny? I keep seeing that phrase "more than conquerors", in context with the verse and without, all over the place. I think maybe the Father is giving me a nudge!

I really loved this post -- the quote and your take on it.