*sigh* That's not a sigh of discontentment or frustration. It's a long deserved breath. For the first time in fifteen weeks, I have time to take a breath. Classes are over, papers have been written and exams have been taken. The discernible outcome will be revealed in one to four weeks depending on the grader, but I think I did well. So, here I am with nothing to do but blog and play a game of RISK (The Game of Global Domination) later tonight.
As I think about this past semester (remember, folks, I think about everything!), I remember how much I couldn't wait for this day to arrive. The third week of classes I remember how much I disliked all but one of my classes and couldn't wait until they were over. In fact, this became an obsession. I dreaded going to these classes, and even counted down the number of classes left in the semester as November started (yet another countdown that I had going throughout that month). Instead of enjoying my time, I began focusing on the future. Instead of concentrating on what I could learn in these classes, lectures and readings I looked forward to doing class evaluations and turning in that final exam. I yearned for the day when this trial would be complete.
That day has arrived and I realize what a fool I've been. Document it now, ladies. A guy is admitting what a fool he has been. I have been so focused on the future and the end of now that I didn't really live. I missed countless ministry opportunities. I missed lectures and readings that might of blessed my life because I wanted to work on something else in class or read something else. Instead of living, this semester found me barely surviving. Will I do well grade wise? Yes, but does that matter?
My focus was totally on me instead of God. I needed to throw the shackles of my frustrations and assignments away and crawl toward my Father who calls me with His sweet voice. Yet...I didn't. I was content to survive everything...missing the reality that life was passing me by. I focused on the future instead of living in today. We do that so often, don't we. Life doesn't seem too exciting right now, so we focus on when it'll get exciting forgetting that tomorrow is prepared for and shaped by today. The foundations that are laid today will be what holds tomorrow's buildings steady. School stinks...I cannot wait till I am actually doing what I want to do ________ (you fill in the blank). For me, I cannot wait till I am planting churches, working with young people, pastoring, evangelizing, etc. I get so focused on what will be instead of living what is.
We cannot do that. We make ourselves miserable. By focusing on tomorrow and what may be we are ignoring the commands of Christ. He tells us to not worry about tomorrow for it has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34). Those are timely words for one such as I. I don't need to live in the future but trust in God who created it and is already there just as much as he is in the present (think about that for a while...headache city!).
So I need to live today instead of focusing on tomorrow. Still...that's difficult, right? Today stinks. My classes this semester were so stinkin' boring (except for one) and I felt like I wasted twelve hundred bones. Let's face it...today can stink sometimes. That's why we think about tomorrow. When we're having a blast of a good time do we think about tomorrow? No! Only when the present seems less inviting than what may be do we even think about the future.
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions. --Colossians 1:24
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say it, 'Rejoice!' --Philippians 4:4
Rejoice? Hardly. Paul obviously didn't have to sit through pointless and boring lectures and have to do busy work and have to work two jobs to pay his way through school. All he had to deal with were beatings, stonings, shipwrecks...hmm. Maybe he has something to say to me.
Rejoice? I don't know if I can do that. Life can stink sometimes, remember? How can I rejoice when I have to go through so many...*sigh*...why do I keep making excuses for my sin and disbelief? Focus...that's what it seems to be about.
This semester, during the roughest and worst parts, where has my focus been? On the boringness of class...on my hardships...on me. Have you ever been on a challenging hike through a mountain area? Most of the time, you need to keep your eyes darting back and forth from the trail in the distance to the trail right in front of you. You don't want this to last forever, so you keep a good pace. To do that, safely, you have to keep watch on the ground. If you do otherwise, it's easy to end up with your face in the dirt or your tail in poison ivy. The problem, though, is that if we don't look around we miss the beauty and majesty that is nature. The grandiose mountain scenes, the babbling brook and the trees filled with leaves and wildlife escape our focus and our grasp. The focus on the trail may keep us safe and going at a fast pace, but we miss the beauty of the journey.
The same is true for life. By focusing on problems and circumstances, we may survive and possibly even thrive, but we'll miss the miss the beauty that is the journey. We'll forgo time with friends to work on something else. We'll skip church because of a test the next day. We'll miss a quiet time one day so we can sleep a little longer from the late night studying. The next time we just need to do something else instead of reading and praying. The next time...well, you get the picture. By focusing on the problem and on circumstances instead of on Christ, we survive, but we don't really live.
Holy moly, that's a lot. Live today instead of focusing on tomorrow and it's glamour or problems. Focus on God instead of circumstances. Life life instead of surviving circumstances. We must make our relationship with Christ central to everything else. If that becomes skewed so does everything else. Jesus tells us to "seek first the Kingdom of heaven". To do otherwise is unwise, dangerous and sin.
I survived the semester. Unfortunately I don't think I lived it. That stinks, doesn't it? Christ has saved us for life eternal but also for an abundant life on earth in a relationship with God. He has taught us a new/old way to be human and I settled for throwing that aside and surviving. I'll be honest with y'all: my walk has suffered this semester. I spent time with God on a regular basis, but did I give Him my best? Did I spend as much quality time with Him as I should have/needed to? No. My frustrations with classes and the course work hindered my spiritual life. My time with God suffered. My time with friends was affected. My time with my church family was hurt. I survived...but I didn't live.
until Christ is formed in us...
"All men die. Not all men really live!" --Braveheart