Guilt Free

Sounds like a snack food label, doesn’t it?  Sort of like Gluten Free or Fat Free.  I suppose if it’s Gluten Free, Fat Free, Lactose Free and Low Sodium that might qualify as a Guilt Free snack.  But then again it’s probably Taste Free as well.

Speaking of guilt free snack foods and abundant life…the other day I was in Costco with my husband picking up just one thing.  Have you ever tried to go to Costco and get just one thing?  Well, that’s why I try to limit myself to one trip per week so I get everything at once because getting just one thing DOES NOT happen (can I get an amen?).  Last week I managed to forget the one thing I couldn’t get through this week without.

One thing I love about Costco is that they often have interesting products that you can’t find other places, so as I go through the isles I see new things that I would like to try.  The key phrase is that I would like to try them, but I have absolutely no sense of adventure, ESPECIALLY when it comes to food.  I know what I like and I am perfectly willing to eat it every single day of my life.

So there I am on a Monday in Costco with my husband, who is NEVER off work on a week day and NEVER gets to go to Costco with me and whose sense of adventure extends well into the culinary realm.  In other words, he is willing to try just about anything at least once and sometimes two or three times to determine if he does or does not like it.

Well, several weeks ago I spotted a snack that boasted pistachios, pomegranate seeds, dried cherries and black pepper.  I have walked past that bag of snacks every week since and every week I pick it up, read the ingredients, check the weight and then check the price…15-ounces for $10.89.  And every week I think, “That’s ridiculous,” and put it back, secretly dying to try it.

So as my hubby and I were cruising the snack isles I pointed out my fantasy snack and he grabs it and says, “Why don’t you get some and try it?”  My jaw just about hit the floor and I heard myself say, “Do you know how guilty I would feel paying $10.89 for something I’m not sure I would even like?  And it’s such a small bag?”  Sometimes he just gets the craziest ideas in his head.  And then he said, “Well, I’ll get it, we’ll pretend it’s for me and I’ll let you try some.”

And yes after knowing me and my version of crazy for over 26 years now, he knew that somehow that logic would work in my mind.  And it did.

So…why in the world would I feel guilty about buying a snack food? (Just erase food issues from your mind, I wasn’t even going there ladies.  This was all about how much it cost and how little product I felt I was getting for my money.  I’ll get to food-issue-crazy another day.)   Then I started thinking about other things I feel guilty about spending money on and why.  Yes, I did just write a post a couple of weeks ago that included a message about there being no condemnation for those who are in Christ.  I am slow.

What was there to feel guilty about?  Absolutely nothing.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been times in my adult life when $10.89 would have blown my weekly food budget and I remember it well.  Back when my husband ran his own business and we had to pray in every single dollar and every assignment that came in…well, it makes me hyperventilate just to think back on it.  The cost of that bag of snacks would have bought a week’s worth of diapers back then and it was a big deal to indiscriminately spend that much money.  But not now.

Somehow though, in those LEAN years instead of seeing them as temporary struggles to count as joy, knowing that my faith was being tested and perfected to produce endurance (see James 1:2-3), I believed a lie that I didn’t deserve good things.  I equated Christian living as doing without any and all forms of pleasure and fun.  I resigned myself to the idea that doing without somehow made one more holy and God required it.  With that mind-set, even when good things happened I couldn’t enjoy them because the guilt was too overwhelming (think everything from snacks to vacations to Christmas gifts).

Back to snack foods, abundant living and reigning in life, when Jesus said He came that we may have life and have it abundantly, I believe He truly intended for us to enjoy the good things He brings into our lives.  Whether it’s a bag of our favorite snack, a nap, a vacation, our job, our relationships, our ministries, He intends for us to enter fully into each moment with Him free from guilt.  Because as His children that is what we are, FREE FROM GUILT.

And now one more time let’s all say it together, out loud, just for me (the slow kid in the group):

Romans 8:1 (NASB) – “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!”

Led Not Driven

One Wednesday night a couple of summers ago I sat in my church listening to my pastor, McLean Faw, teach on John 10, the passage about The Good Shepherd.  Not one day has passed since that I haven’t thought about that message.  I can’t remember it word for word (I am sure I could find it in one of my MANY notebooks somewhere), but the heart of the message from God to me was, “Sheep are led, not driven.”

Sitting there that night I was weary.  And I had been weary for a very long time.  I had hit the wall again, yes the one that has made my eye wonky, and not only did I know I didn’t have it in me to pick myself back up, I knew I didn’t even want to.  Those words, “Sheep are led, not driven,” were like cold water to someone who’d been in the desert way too long.

He went on to explain the difference between sheep and cattle.  The shepherd goes ahead of sheep and the shepherd’s own sheep will follow him wherever he goes.  Cattle are driven from behind, poked and prodded and pushed.  They won’t just follow where they are led, they have to be driven.

I was being driven, by the lies of the enemy and desires of my own flesh, toward what I thought was the life God expected of me – living a life of just TRYING HARDER to be perfect, to make myself acceptable.

Right there in John 10, where Jesus is sharing about the relationship between The Shepherd and His sheep, He reveals His purpose for coming.  The whole point behind God putting on an earth suit, submitting Himself to the care of flesh and living apart from His divinity for 30+ years:

John 10:10b (AMP)“… I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”

Abundant life is following the Lord wherever He leads, not running towards a goal, a destination.  It’s focusing on the relationship with Him and others, not striving for a particular result.  It’s being wide open to all the possibilities available to us in Him not hyper-focused on the outcomes we desire.

Lord, give us ears to hear Your voice and help us to follow The Way to abundant Life.  Thank You that Your intentions toward us are always good and through the blood of Jesus we are righteous.

The Apple Store, A Thirteen Year Old Girl, and God’s Amazing Love

Lest anyone think I sit atop a mountain of grace with this whole thing figured out, let me present Exhibit A, and allow it to testify to all the things I still need to learn about God’s great love for me.  I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but apparently every word was required in order to communicate how great God is and how slow I am.

So last week I heard the words that I dread, “Mom, my iPod screen is frozen.  I need to get it fixed.”  Why dread these words?  So many reasons:  1) I am a technology dinosaur; 2) I am not sure my kids, or anyone else’s these days, know what life apart from technology at the touch of a thumb is (therefore, I don’t know what my kids are like apart from technology, just kidding girls :)); and 3) (most importantly) I am afraid of the Apple Store.

When I say I am a technology dinosaur what I really mean is that I am lost in the world of Apple.  Who wouldn’t be overcome with panic when they have so cleverly, and intimidatingly, named the store tech support the ‘Genius Bar’?  Not only that, but in order to get to the Apple Store I actually have to go to the mall.

Malls are a whole separate problem for me.  When someone says, “Let’s go to the mall,” my blood runs cold and I start to sweat.  It’s the mass parking, all the people, all the choices in the stores, and did I mention all the people???  I just don’t like large crowds or spending lots of money or making decisions about spending lots of money and to me those are the things that going to the mall is all about.

So, back to my dilemma with the frozen iPod screen.  My daughter looked me straight in the eye and said, “We need to go to the Apple Store and they will give me a new one.”  When I resisted (because I could not believe such a thing was possible in what could be considered the worst possible customer service period of history!) she repeated it, numerous times.  My daughter is the most persistent person I know and completely uninhibited about asking for things she needs.  I have no idea what gene pool she drew from, but it was not mine.

Since I was horrified at the thought of the mall and the Apple Store (two phobias for the price of one) I told her I would see if I could Google a solution.  I was positive this has happened before and some genius twenty or thirty years younger than me had posted the solution online for me to find.  I jumped online full of faith that God was not going to make me go to the mall or the Apple Store because He loves me that much!

But of course that would be the end of the story and I am convinced God loves a really good story.

When I had to admit that my Google prowess had failed (I am otherwise known as ‘The Google Queen’) I told my daughter that I agreed that we would need to go to the Apple Store.  That was on Thursday.  I told her I thought we could work it in on the following Tuesday.  I figured this was going to be an all-day affair, I’ve heard the horror stories of others, and the following Tuesday was the first spot on my calendar that I had a long, uninterrupted block of time.  I also figured that would give me several days to mentally prepare for the trek.

Yes I know I was acting like this was going to be the equivalent of climbing Everest.  But you see, for me, it was the equivalent of climbing Everest.  And God knew that.  And He didn’t try to make me feel guilty about it.  He just met me right where I was with love and not condemnation.

When I dropped my daughter off at school Friday morning she asked me if we could try to go to the store that afternoon.  So I started to ask myself, “Why can’t I go this afternoon?”  The truth is fear was the only thing keeping me from going.

I heard a sweet whisper in my spirit to hit Google one more time.  Through a series of what appeared to be random mouse clicks (but you and I both know differently) I found that I could make an appointment that afternoon at 4:30, so I did.

My daughter got home and was ELATED when I told her we were going.  I, however, felt like I was preparing to enter a medieval torture chamber.  I couldn’t imagine any scenario where this went well.  I thought we were going to be there for hours and at the end of the day my daughter was still going to have a broken iPod, which translates to a broken heart for a teenager.

We arrived at the mall at 4:10 and headed in through one of the department stores.  I told my daughter I didn’t know where the store was and she said, “Why don’t you ask that lady?”  Duh.  I think I wrote something about self-sufficiency LAST WEEK!!!  Probably the day the iPod broke.  The lady at the make-up counter gladly pointed us in the right direction and off we went.

As we turned the corner into the store I almost had a full-blown panic attack (as if everything else I have recorded in this post hasn’t proven I need to be on meds).  The store was wall-to-wall people.  My heart started to race and I think I stopped breathing for a few seconds…I hold my breath when I am stressed, like I am waiting for a punch in the stomach.

God showed up.

My daughter led me to a friendly young man with an iPad.  We told him we had an appointment.  He said, “Great!” and asked us to wait over by the wall.  Before heading there I said something like, “You should serve alcohol.”  He laughed.  I think he must hear that a lot.

Within five minutes a kind, older woman walked up to us, introduced herself and started looking at the iPod.  After no more than two minutes she looked up and said, “I’ll be right back with your new iPod.”  Since we all know my hearing is not great, I looked at my daughter and asked, “What did she say?”  She replied, “She said, ‘I’ll be right back with your new iPod.’  I told you mom!”

The truth is, until we were walking out of that store and got into our car with a new iPod (a mere 20 minutes after our arrival at the mall), I still didn’t believe it.  How could this have been that easy?  It didn’t cost me a dime.  It barely cost me an hour on a Friday afternoon and it was 100%, completely taken care of.  I didn’t have to ask her to do anything.  She assessed the problem and solved it for us.

It was ridiculously easy.  I still can hardly believe it.  I can also hardly believe the unnecessary stress I put myself through.  By the time I pulled out of my parking spot my stomach was hurting from having been in a knot all day.  On the drive home my daughter was so happy and kept saying, “I knew it.  I knew they were going to give me a new one.”  And it’s true, she never doubted for a minute she was going to leave with anything less than a working iPod.

So I asked the Lord, why didn’t I know it?  Why didn’t I expect something good to happen?  Then He showed me all the ways He had been good to me through the whole process – leading me to make an appointment, giving me the perfect parking spot, the lady at the make-up counter who gave us directions, my daughter who confidently led me through the entire process, the kind check-in guy with the iPad, the sweet Genius Bar lady who gave us the new iPod.

My point, in relationship to reigning in life and abundant living?  When our tiaras are on straight, we live in expectancy; expectancy of God’s goodness towards us and His love for us, not necessarily of perfect outcomes.  We can walk through the most challenging situations (even if they are only in our minds) knowing that God has good things in store for us regardless of the results.

Even if we had not walked out of that store with a new iPod, God was amazing to us every step of the way.

Thank You Father that Your love never fails.  You are faithful even when we are faithless.  Thank You for mercies that are new EVERY SINGLE DAY even when we struggle to receive them!

It’s Not Without Risk

The last post contained three VERY key messages from our Father, straight to our hearts.  They are so important (and I am so slow and forgetful) that I just want to recap: 1) There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus; 2) your flesh patterns (another word for coping mechanisms) are not who you are; and 3) your flesh (and mine) was never designed to work in the first place.

Now that I’ve covered lots of things that definitely aren’t found in abundant living (TRYING HARDER, fear, and self-sufficiency), it’s time to look at some things that are (I heard the collective sigh of relief from your side of the screen :)).  The first one I want to talk about is honesty.  I know it seems obvious, but is it really?

This week in our Bible study group we got to an interesting place in Jeremiah chapter 26.  In that chapter God tells Jeremiah to stand in the court of the Lord’s house, the temple in Jerusalem, and speak to ALL those who come to worship ALL the words He commands.  And then just for emphasis God says, “Do not omit a word!”  And yes, the NASB includes the exclamation point (verse 2).

Here is what God has Jeremiah say:

Jeremiah 26:4-6 (NASB) “And you will say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, “If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law which I have set before you,  to listen to the words of My servants the prophets, whom I have been sending to you again and again, but you have not listened; then I will make this house like Shiloh, and this city I will make a curse to all the nations of the earth.”’”

And here is the response of all who heard the words from God:

Jeremiah 26:8 (NASB) “When Jeremiah finished speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak to all the people, the priests and the prophets and all the people seized him, saying, “You must die!”

Let’s just camp here for a minute.  Jeremiah faithfully gave the word of the Lord and the immediate response of the people was a call to kill him.   Can you imagine the look on Jeremiah’s face as they turned to grab him?  I am sure he was confident of what the Lord called him to say, but don’t you think that at that moment he must have quaked in his sandals just a little bit?

If this were a game of chess then in a natural sense we’d have to question Jeremiah’s next move.  He restated God’s first message to them (vv. 12-13) and then added:

Jeremiah 26:14-15 (NASB) “But as for me, behold, I am in your hands; do with me as is good and right in your sight.  Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood on yourselves, and on this city and on its inhabitants; for truly the Lord has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing.”

In a very difficult, stressful, life and death situation, Jeremiah fully placed his trust in the Lord (he said he was in their hands, but we know who he really trusted in, right?) and he spoke the truth.  He didn’t back down.  He didn’t soften the message.  He didn’t run.  He didn’t even burst into tears.  Even when his life was on the line he spoke the truth.

I can’t say that I’ve ever found myself in a life and death situation that depended on what I did or did not say, but I have been in plenty of VERY UNCOMFORTABLE situations where I was so worried about what was going to happen next (e.g. someone yell at me, someone get angry with me, someone not like me, etc.), that I either didn’t say what I was thinking at all or I didn’t say exactly what I was thinking in order to soften the message.

Let me bottom line it for you, I was not being truthful.  I was trying to protect myself and trying to control outcomes so that everything and everyone remained civil and polite.  But there was a war raging inside of me.

Not being honest about how you feel or what you really think (even if it is super ugly), is not abundant living.  It’s painful living.  When we do things to protect ourselves and control outcomes instead of trusting God, we are erecting walls around our hearts that keep Father God and those we love out.  Eventually there’s a price to be paid for it too – a cold heart.

Since I said we were going to start discussing what abundant living and reigning in life DO look like, let me turn my example around to say, honesty and transparency are hallmarks of abundant living and reigning in life.  But there’s risk involved, it can be dangerous to wear a tiara (or a crown in Jeremiah’s case).  It gives people the opportunity to do you harm, just like the people who wanted to kill Jeremiah.  But my trust isn’t in them, it’s in the Lord.  Every time I choose to be honest and transparent it demonstrates that trust and draws me closer to Him.  It opens my heart for intimacy with Him and others.

Could Someone Help Me Straighten My Tiara?

I laughed to myself after my last post because I started thinking about how this series really could have been positioned as letters of apology to my family.  I didn’t live Trying Hard and Fearful somewhere alone in a cave.  I did it right up front and center in my own home.

I really would like to say thank you to my poor husband who is my polar opposite, but has loved me and endured all my attempts to figure this walk out for over 26 years.  When I talked about ‘mothering’ fearfully, I did use that word specifically because parenting is a two-person process (really five if you are wise enough to include the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit).  When our girls were little my husband was definitely a ‘let-them-touch-the-hot-stove-so-they-never-do-it-again’ kind of guy, while I was a ‘let’s-cordon-off-the-entire-kitchen-so-they-never-even-know-there-is-a-stove’ kind of girl.  It never occurred to me that God had put the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden in the first place AND had actually pointed it out to Adam and Eve.  I am a slow learner.

Somehow God knew that if He paired us together our kids just might make it.  And they have more than made it.  They are all three beautiful miracles who love God and all have their unique expression of Him.  It is a testimony to God’s goodness and not to any formula I managed to concoct and adhere to.

So back to ways not to reign in life…I always think of tiaras when I think of reigning (Princess Diana and Princess Grace rocked the tiaras!).

My mom likes to say that I was born 40 years old.  She was referring to the fact that I seemed so mature and responsible for my age, almost adult-like.

Well, on the outside it made me a ‘good’ child, but on the inside it was a crushing weight.  Somewhere along the way I believed a lie that I was responsible for EVERYTHING.  How I got there is complicated, but let me just say that all the approval I got for being mature, responsible and good, launched me on a life of independence and self-sufficiency.

I learned very early on that if I didn’t do it, no one else would.  Sadly, I even believed this about God.  I lived thinking (not necessarily consciously) He wasn’t very good at His job so if anything good was going to happen in my life I would have to make it happen.  There are a 1000 ways this played out like killing myself to get straight A’s in school, working full-time in high school, going to the right college, and above all else NEVER asking for help.

It’s a very lonely existence being Superwoman.  No one ever asks if you need anything because you’ve trained them not to.  And when you do raise your hand (think of a drowning person weakly lifting their hand above the surface of the water), often there is no response because you have so distanced yourself from others.  True community and relationships are forged in a mutual dependency on one another and God.  I knew absolutely nothing about that.

There’s a reason the Bible tells us to ‘bear one another’s burdens.’  We can’t walk this journey alone.  We either won’t get very far or we will be crushed under the weight of it.

The funny thing is I did have relationships, but they were based on need.  Other people needing me.  I forged fast friendships based on some way I could help others.  But when it came to my needs I felt as if there were something wrong with either having them or sharing them.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 (NASB)“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

I thought that verse was just in there for the weak people.  I had no idea Jesus was talking to me and that in fact He had become my Sabbath rest.  I could actually cease striving for my own success because it was really all wrapped up in Him.

I didn’t get it until my good flesh stopped working for me.  I hit the wall.  Actually I hit the wall a bunch of times (maybe that explains my wonky eye???), but when I finally hit it and then could no longer pick myself back up it made me ask, “Why?”  Asking why and honestly being open to the answer was the beginning of a paradigm shift.

Bottom line:  Self-sufficiency is definitely another tiara-tilter and abundance-drainer!

And Then There Is Fear

Since this turned into something of a series on abundant life and reigning in life (see The Day After and Abundant Life?), it probably would have been helpful to title them consistently and add numbers.  I guess hindsight really is 20/20.  Thank you for your patience, I am learning as I go and really enjoying the process.

The process, I use that term loosely, but what I mean by that is sitting down and talking to the Lord about the things He is doing and has done in my life and asking Him to help me articulate them…as much for me as for anyone else.  So if it ever seems as if I am thinking out loud on the computer screen, I probably am.

My thoughts turned to abundant life and reigning in life as I reflected on the importance not only on the celebration of Resurrection Sunday, but celebration of the Resurrected life.  The truth is, as believers the cross represents the crucifixion of our old self (our human spirit that was dead to God), our burial, and our resurrection (us made alive together with Christ).  Shouldn’t our lives be different?  If ‘Christ in us, the hope of glory’ is true, well…that’s a total game changer, if we let it be.

Thinking about this it seemed the obvious place to start was with what abundant life is not, since that really is the part I am most familiar with :).  I think I made a good case in my last post for the idea that TRYING HARDER IS NOT ABUNDANT LIVING (is it true that when you use all caps it’s like raising your voice to your reader?  Please let me know because I want to scream that from the mountain tops)!  My life is an honest example of the truth in that statement.

Another honest example from my own life is that FEAR is not reigning in life.  The fact that I had so many of these to choose from (fear examples) made this post hard to write.  Fear based living could become a series within a series…or a book.  The easiest one to see is in how I mothered my girls.

Every decision I agonized over was based on the fear that if I made the wrong one their lives would be forever off-track, the perfect track, God’s track.  School was a big one for me.  I knew early on that homeschooling was not for us, but I didn’t feel public school was ‘safe’, so at great financial cost I insisted my kids go to Christian school for several years.  That way they would be in the right environment, with the right friends, learning the right Christian things to keep their lives on the right track.

It finally became financially obvious that we could no longer continue in Christian school, so we enrolled them in public school.  You know what?  In the beginning I felt very defeated by this, like I had failed and because of that the enemy had really gotten a victory.  However, it turned out to be the best thing we could have done for them (one more instance of lacking perspective).  Has it been perfect? No, but honestly the things we’ve faced in public school were not really any different from Christian school.  People are people wherever you go.

I am not advocating thoughtless, careless parenting, but at some point don’t you just have to trust that God is bigger than your mistakes?  I can’t protect them from every possible danger that can potentially come their way, but I can place my trust in the One who can.

While mothering has been a very pronounced example of how I’ve lived in fear, the truth is I’ve lived afraid of a lot of things.  Afraid that if I didn’t pray and read my Bible every day that I wouldn’t have God’s favor.  Afraid that if I made a mistake God wouldn’t love me, bless me, use me (fill in the blank).  Afraid that as a Christian I wasn’t representing God very well if my life wasn’t perfect (talk about carrying a huge weight – it’s a miracle I can even stand up straight any more).  Afraid that if I wasn’t doing enough for the Lord He might get angry.

What was I afraid would happen?  The absolute worst, whatever that was.

The apostle John had this to say about fear:

1 John 4:18 (NASB) – “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”

John was exactly right.  I had met Perfect Love, but I didn’t really trust Him to be Lord.  I walked around waiting for the other shoe to drop, expecting the punishment I was sure I deserved for all the mistakes I was sure I was making.

But you know how the Lord handles our mistakes?  He confronts them with His love, not His wrath.  Two of the biggest mistake makers in the New Testament, Paul and Peter, prove this.  Paul was actually murdering followers of Christ and was on his way to kill even more when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and you know what Jesus said to him?

Acts 9:4-6 (NASB) – “… and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”  And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am
Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the
city, and it will be told you what you must do.”

Paul wasn’t even a believer at that point, but Jesus simply confronted him with a question.  A question that immediately revealed to Paul (then Saul) what was in his own heart and who Jesus was.  And then He told Paul what to do.

Then there is Peter.  The disciple who swore his willingness to die for Jesus (John 13) and then turned around and denied even knowing Him that same night (John 18).  Talk about a mistake!  How did Jesus handle it?

John 21:15-17 (NASB)“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

Jesus dealt with his mistake by asking him questions that caused Peter to think and then He gave him instructions.  Just like He did with Paul.  Their mistakes were confronted by Perfect Love, not punishment.

So, all that to say, living in fear is NOT reigning in life, but apparently living loved IS.

The Simple Truth

I have been thinking a lot lately about God’s Big Plan for my life.  I even wrote some of my thoughts in Surrendering ‘The Plan’.  The more I think about it the more convinced I am that ‘The Plan’ has less to do with outcomes and accomplishments FOR Him and more to do with being in intimate relationship WITH Him.  Simply knowing Him, believing Him, abiding in Him.

So I woke up this morning with this verse on my heart:

Genesis 5:24 (NASB) “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”

Enoch lived 365 years (which was a short life by pre-Flood standards) and this is how the Bible records his life.  A simple sentence about the life of a man whom God took Home.  The only other Biblical reference to Enoch is in the book of Jude (Jesus’ own earthly brother) verses 14 – 15:

Jude 1:14-15 (NASB) “14 It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.'”

How did Enoch know what to say?  Enoch walked with God, he communicated with Him, he spent time with Him, and from that relationship he spoke for God.

The book of Micah describes ‘The Plan’ this way:

Micah 6:8 (NASB)  “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?”

There are some ‘to do’s’ in this verse that God requires, but they seem pretty simple and straightforward – do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God.  Three bullet points on ‘The Plan’.  Seems simple, I can really get onboard with those.

When the crowd followed Jesus after the feeding of the five thousand and asked Him what they were to do in order that they may ‘work the works of God’ (see John 6), Jesus replies:

John 6:29b (NASB) “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

Wow!  That sounds really simple too.  It also sounds a lot like Abraham in Genesis:

Genesis 15:6 (NASB) “Then he (Abram) believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”

Abraham was made right with God by simply believing Him. Amazing!

Then there is Jesus again, with Mary and Martha:

Luke 10:38-42 (NASB) “38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’ 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.'”

According to Jesus, only one thing is necessary, spending time with Him, enjoying fellowship with Him, being with Him.

My point is simply this, I have exhausted myself with all of my ‘doings’ for God.  It seems to me, I am the one who has made serving God so difficult and so complicated.

‘The Plan’ God has for me (and dare I say all of us), from a Biblical perspective, appears to be a lot more simple and a lot less exhausting than I have made it out to be.  According to Jesus only one thing (not 500 things) is necessary and out of that the eternal fruit Jesus describes in John 15 will come.  The fruit of simply abiding in Him.

If it’s enough for God, why isn’t it enough for me?

Father, thank You for the simple truth that You desire relationship with me and out of that relationship You will accomplish Your purposes in my life.  Thank You for the freedom to let go of trying to figure it all out.  Thank You for rest.