Okay, so that title was a bit misleading. This is a deep post. Very deep. * nod nod *
Well maybe not that deep. But it was life-changing for me, and I wanted to share it with you.
See, I am a collector. I don’t collect Hotwheels or stamps though, I collect principles. Life principles are best. I love it when I find a new concept, insight, proverb, or rule that will alter my life in a beneficial way. And once I examine and test and refine it I will do my best to integrate it into my habits and motivations and standards and life in general. Keeps me growing and improving all the time, and that is powerful.
But anyway, I recently came upon a desperate need for a new life principle, and went in search for one to fill the gap.
All my saved life, I have been in extremes of circumstances. I am either up on a mountain, or down in a valley. All the time. The more level ground in-between went by so quickly I never really noticed them. I definitely didn’t learn how to live in them.
Yes, my life is more crazy than it ever has before, but I am having periods in between the valleys and mountains where I have to survive in a new war field… the plains. Yeah so they are only a week long in general, but hey, it’s long for me!
I had learned how to glorify, praise, and thank God on the mountain tops without succombing to pride and arrogancy every time (still a struggle, but victory is here). I had learned how to seek God’s strength and mercy in the valleys, drawing closer to Him without despairing and losing sight of that blessed hope that belongs to those who trust in Him. But I hadn’t learned yet how to go on doing the same thing day after day without being driven to God forcefully by either one of those extremes.
As soon as things got easier, they got harder.
I’m not the kind of guy who takes to monotony easily. In fact I hate it as much as a Karnian Great Mountain Wyvern hates baths (and for your information, that is so little as to make a scale come up negative). I always delegate such jobs to you strange but wonderful folks who actually like doing the same thing over and over and over and over and… * gags * over. And so in the plain… things are so… plain. Boring. Bland. Tedious. Insipid. Bleacgh.
And of course I end up lagging.
And things get worse, because then I end up not being as close to God as I need to be, and when you aren’t close to God… life loses meaning. Which means I get even less interest out of life. And the vicious spiral continues.
I was talking about this to one of my dear friends, and she pointed out that all of life, even the plains, are made up of a bunch of little bumps. A simple thought, but profound. Quite profound. And I saw the makings of the very life principle I had been needing so badly. And I promptly named it Be-Bumpy (right along with Be-Creative and Be-Grateful and all those other ones). And I can say with perfect honesty that it is has changed my life.
Life always brings us one of two things in predominance, every moment. It brings them to us large and small, and in various measure, but it always brings them to us with an inequality, whether slight or great. At any moment you can look at where you are and ask yourself this question with assurance of a helpful answer: “Am I facing a challenge that I can do in God’s strength for His glory, or am I being blessed with a respite of happiness for which I can thank and praise Him?”
Sometimes you can pick either one or the other – in fact you can almost always do that, unless there is a hugely challenging valley or a hugely high mountain. In which case it is best to just stick with the obvious one, in my experience.
This question is still helpful to ask even if it is obvious which end of a hill you are on, though. It serves as a brilliant reminder of what your reaction should be to it.
Otherwise, it serves its regular purpose admirably: it gives you something to be excited and passionate about in the daily grind.
In other words, it brings an eternal perspective into your moment by moment life.
See, some people will say that all you need to do is discipline yourself to be diligent in those kinds of times. But what does that mean? How do you discipline yourself, and what in the world is discipline?
I would define discipline as a measure of the kind of maturity in which we make choices about our immediate actions based upon long range motivations. (Yes, another one of Jay’s extremely compact lexicology definitions, haha.) Christian discipline would mean that those long range motivations include a heavenly, eternal perspective
See, we always do what we want. Period. Every time. No exception. This is good, this is a law of life, and it is not part of our carnal nature. It is as true of angels and God as of us.
When I choose one choice out of several options, I am basing that choice off of my own preferences. If I choose one, it is because I want it more than the others: that is the definition of me choosing it. Innumerable factors go into why I want it more than others, but that doesn’t change the fact that I want that one most.
If someone walks up to me and asks for a hundred euros, I probably will not want to give it to him. I would rather keep it. I have no reason to think that giving him the money would bring me any value now or in any time in the future (including heaven).
If, on the other hand, he asks with a drawn and loaded gun, now he has added in another consideration that I must factor into my decision. I now want to give him the money because that is tied to me keeping my life. I want my life, and so I want to give him the money. I may not like having to make that decision, but I didn’t have a choice about that one.
Discipline is basically taking into account future results. If I choose to watch TV all day instead of working towards something productive, I am not displaying maturity. A mature person would look into the future, figure out what he wants there, and then based on those desires, figure out what needs to be done now. Then, he wants to work rather than watch TV, because he sees the value it will give him. Our fleshly nature is to avoid this kind of maturity and live in the now without regard for consequences. That is why an eternal perspective is so, so important.
When we sacrifice ourselves for God, we are doing it because we want to please Him more than we want to please our flesh. If we didn’t want to please Him, we wouldn’t do it. If we didn’t care about heaven, we wouldn’t do it. Etcetera.
This maturity can be gained in many ways of course… through study of the Scriptures, learning more about God and worshiping Him, experiencing consequences brought about by previous actions, motivation seminars, etc. But the more we learn to apply the widest and highest perspective possible to our immediate, current, day to day choices, the more this maturity will grow, the more our discipline will grow, the more our diligence will grow.
This powerful question brings all this together for you, tying your prime motive into your immediate task. Because your prime motive should be God.
So remember it. And if you have improvements on it, let me know in the comments. Or if you have other life principles, or if you have used this kind of idea yourself in your life, or if you just want to say welcome back to posting! (Haha, yeah, I know, it’s been way too long, and I am sorry.)
“Are you facing a challenge that you can do in God’s strength for His glory, or are you being blessed with a respite of happiness for which you can thank and praise Him?”