Posts Tagged 'routines'

Now: A Reprieve from Distraction?

Christmas Cactus blooms

Well, I had another week/weekend filled with distraction, but the Christmas stuff is almost put away, and the colonoscopy went well. There is no cancer there.  My oncologist had recommended I get checked sooner than the usual 10 years on account of the endometrial cancer.

And this time, after the screening, my gastroenterologist recommended a recheck in 5 to 7 years, which is actually the period of time he considers the longest anyone should wait between screenings, even if Medicare doesn’t agree…

Anyway, I have an eye appointment next week, as well as a trip across town to pick up a sunglasses clip that was inadvertently not included with my new glasses when I went to get them… and then maybe… just maybe… I’ll be appointment-free for a while and able to get back to some semblance of regular work on this book.

So far it seems to have been a veritable magnet for distraction.

I know. I’ve said that before. But surely at some point I’ll be left alone to get the work done, right? Right?

Please, Lord???

A Place for My Mind

Well, I’ve been on another journey, I think. A thought journey. A life journey. I’m not sure what to call it.

For some time I’ve wrestled with should I have a routine or shouldn’t I? Should I try to force myself to write or just let it come? Set up a schedule and force myself to keep it or not, seeing as I always fail.

Then pendulum has swung back and forth. I look at old notes from the “schedule” stage and am repelled, certain they are all wrong. Whenever I try to do the schedule thing I start into the control mindset and it only ends up in failure and guilt. So I’ll just relax and let God the Holy Spirit guide me. But then my life unravels and I never seem to get to the book. So then the pendulum swings back, I go back to the notes and start over. Is self-control a fruit of the Spirit? Or something I’m supposed to do?  Didn’t God say that he would work in me “both to will and to execute for his good pleasure?”

It seems to me I’ve gone back and forth and back and forth for over a year now. Maybe longer than that. But I think perhaps there’s been a couple of small changes in my thinking that might make a bit of difference.

Last Friday I listened to a message by Pastor Farley delivered last summer on spiritual gifts that shed new light on my confusion.

“When we’re living in our gift, it’s because of the ongoing work of God the Holy Spirit through us. That’s a great comfort. There’s nothing worse than when you get to any point in the spiritual life and think it’s up to you; when I get the idea that yes, at the moment of salvation God the Holy Spirit gave me a gift but now I gotta run with it. I gotta do something with my gift.

NO!

God the Holy Spirit will continue to do things with that gift as you allow him to, as you say yes to Him, as you put yourself in the place of being available (99% of these things is showing up). You say, “I’m available. I know my gift is (writing) and I’m gonna put myself in a place where that gift can function  and I know the rest is up to the Holy Spirit.”

The Bible says you’ll be promoted at the proper time, when God says so, and that whenever it is you’ll be using your gift, God will provide both the will and the power to do it. So it continues to be the Holy Spirit’s operation and ministry all the way throughout our lives.”

That really zinged me. Especially the part about putting myself in a place where I know my gift can function.

That place is my office. It’s my couch. It’s walking laps around the house. It’s a place of the mind more than the body. Not a mind cluttered with all sorts of random thoughts, half-baked ideas, urges, to-do lists, etc.

So clearly the first thing to do is make a space for my mind to be free and uncluttered during the day. Hence my return to the schedule idea.

To be continued…

Waiting Rooms

I started out this last week with a doctor’s appointment at 9am Monday. This was a reschedule, when my appointment the previous week had been cancelled. They warned me then that the wait would be “longer than usual” because they were transferring all their patients’ files over to digital. Well, I figured that with the 9am appointment being among the first of the day the wait wouldn’t be so bad. I figured I’d be home by 9:30, 10 at the latest. So confident of this was I that I didn’t eat breakfast, partly because I didn’t have time and partly because I wasn’t yet hungry.

I was in that office nearly two hours, most of it spent waiting first in the waiting room (an hour) and the exam room (probably another half hour to 45 minutes). I read Everyday Life in Ancient Rome until I got bored with it. Then tried writing in my morning pages journal, but my hand went to sleep. I asked God why He’d set this up. I was just sitting there, doing nothing, my time wasted…

Tonight, in Bible Class I believe He answered. As I think I may have mentioned Pastor Farley has been teaching lately on Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh(body) I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.”

Specifically that the old me, the fleshly me, the one that gets angry and discouraged and fearful and is unloving and unkind and impatient, that me has been crucified with Christ. She’s dead, and her problems and limitations have no place in the life that Christ is wanting me to allow Him to live through me.

We live the Christian life the same way we came into it — by faith in the work of another. Belief in the person and work of Christ on the cross is efficacious for salvation,  yes, but also for everything we do afterward.  Because all the things we’re commanded to do as Christians, loving the brethren, loving our enemies, the fruit we’re supposed to have — we can’t do in ourselves.  Only He can.

I’ve known this in part for some time. What I’ve not understood is how it’s actually implemented. I’m still not sure, though I’ve written posts about letting the Lord have control, and letting Him fill in the details of my days, and take care of the book and the deadline and the audience.  The book and the deadline and the audience I understand better than the first half of that sentence. How exactly do I let Him have control, anyway?

Recently, having determined that I was going to relax and not have a routine and just let the Lord direct me,  and then bungling around and not really making the kind of consistent progress I’d hoped, I came upon an article by a prominent Christian stating that it’s clear that if you want to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile you must deny yourself “a thousand unimportant things and a few hundred important things in order to do the one thing that matters most…” She went on to say specifically that this applies to writing. That writing is, in fact, “entirely a matter of self discipline.” You have to sit yourself down. You have to shut yourself up, you must restrict your enthusiasms, you must control your maunderings.

I immediately thought that that made perfect sense and the Lord had sent it along to remind me that I did need to discipline myself, after all. That all that ‘leave it to the Lord’ stuff was just too lax and this only made sense. And so the pendulum swung back again.

The problem is… I don’t seem to have the ability to do it — discipline myself, I mean. Even when I set myself to it, I fail. Repeatedly. For a myriad of reasons. So now, after that brief regression to the old, temporarily more comfortable, allegedly more “sensible” way, I’ve changed my mind about why He brought that piece to my attention: not to follow its advice but so I could see more clearly the contrast. To show me that it’s not that way. Because that way is not a way of faith in another, but of faith in oneself. I’m the one doing the work — disciplining my self, sitting my self down, shutting my self up, denying my self… I’m the one producing the “fruit” by my determination and my effort, not something the Holy Spirit’s doing in me.

Then there’s the “What Would Jesus Do?” approach, where in a situation you ask yourself what He’d do and then you try to make yourself do that. “Throw that out!” said Pastor Farley tonight. Because that’s not really the life of Christ in you, it’s the life of you attempting to imitate Christ.

No, the answer is faith. “I’m giving the matter of my lack of self-discipline and the whole project of writing this book over to you, Lord. You do it. I have proven myself unable to do it time and again, but I know You can. So I’ll quit trying to scheme and schedule and control and force and demand and reprimand and condemn and deny self and instead, wait for You to come through.”

The only catch is that often when He does come through,  it doesn’t necessarily look the way you think it should. The way you have it planned. It may include long boring waits in a doctor’s waiting and exam rooms where all your plans and expectations for the day are dashed and you have the option of sitting there  mindlessly studying the baby pictures on the wall and wondering when the doctor will come (and he used exactly this kind of situation tonight) or…  you can use the time to recall that the main reason we’re left here after salvation has nothing to do with the natural world, and everything to do with the spiritual world. And you can tap into that, use this alone and “powerless” time… to pray!

Whoa. Never thought of that.

And Pastor Farley didn’t mean that we’re to pray for the doctor to come in and stop wasting our time, or the traffic jam to break up, but really pray… for people, for situations you’re aware of, for your pastor, for unbelievers in your life, for missionaries… for whatever He lays on your heart.

It’s not about me and my schedules and my efforts to make everything work out.  Not that having routines is a bad thing — I don’t think it is — just that when those routines get interrupted, there’s no reason to fuss. It’s just a matter of “not my will, but yours be done, Lord.” And maybe to look for some greater purpose in the situation beyond the one you had in mind.


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