I had several great conversations this week with several different women.  The conversations all had a similar thread that ran throughout them.  .  . frustration.  Why are we women so easily frustrated?  No matter what the situation is, we women are pretty good about finding something in it that frustrates us.  I will confess that something last night frustrated me to the CORE!!!  I looked at my sweet, low key husband and just could not fathom why he was not as ‘worked up’ about the situation as I was….SURELY he was not understanding the situation as I was explaining it to him because all he had to say was, “hmmm.  That is pretty unbelievable.”  And then he managed to return to whatever it was he was doing without another thought about the matter.  Meanwhile, I was replaying the occurrence over and over in my head trying to figure out why in the world someone would do the thing that had caused my frustration.

 As I was listening to my pastor’s sermon yesterday, my mind wandered (yep that’s right…I have battled the ‘wandering mind syndrome’ almost every Sunday morning of my life!) back to my past.  He mentioned the little offering envelopes that we used to fill out in the Baptist churches.  Some of you know these envelopes.  The ones where on the outside you had to check boxes to ‘grade’ your Christian walk for the previous week.  Every week along with the money in the envelope, you turned in a list of checked or unchecked boxes.  On the list were things that ‘every good Christian’ should do each week.  Things like ‘read my Bible everyday’, ‘memorized scripture’, ‘brought friend to church’…honestly I don’t even remember all the things on the list.  All I knew was that each week when I got to church, I would think to myself… ‘is any of this anyone else’s business besides mine and God’s?”  But still I was an obedient Sunday School child, so I did what the teacher asked and gave myself a grade for that week by checking or not checking the boxes.

 As I sat there in church, it occurred to me that many people have never moved beyond those envelopes.  They are still living their lives as if there is a list to fill out at the end of the week.   I sat there wondering how many frustrated Christians were sitting in churches at that very moment.  Believers whose hearts were anxious because they could not ‘check all the boxes’ that Sunday morning. I’ll bet the number would be in the seven figures.  I have been there too many times myself.  Trying to pretend to have it all together, but on the inside wanting to scream out, “I DON’T…I DON’T HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER THIS WEEK.  I CAN’T ‘CHECK ALL THE BOXES’ THIS WEEK!  I REALLY JUST FEEL LIKE THROWING IN THE TOWEL IN THIS RAT RACE WE CALL THE CHRISTAIN LIFE!” 

 Lest you think I need an intervention, let me tell you this.  I would NEVER throw the towel in because I can’t imagine my life without Christ.  However, I have found great freedom in knowing that Jesus is not looking at my list of checked and unchecked boxes each week.  My salvation was completed on the cross.  At a very young age I realized that and began trying to live in that freedom. . . the freedom of not trying to fit in the “Christian life mold” that has been created by human minds.  In high school, college, and beyond, I often would find myself feeling all alone even amongst a group of people I would consider ‘strong believers,’ because I did not want to join the rat race of working for my salvation.  You know, doing for Jesus instead of BEING for Jesus.   My salvation was already decided.  Yet, still I would often fall into the trap of living my life to check off some human made list of what a ‘good Christian’ should do instead of living in the freedom that comes from living in grace.

 So this week, as I continue my 40 day challenge.  I am going to take a walk down memory lane.    To understand better who I was when Joe fell in love with me over ten years ago, I am going to revisit some of the events in my life that molded me into the twenty something year old ponytail princess that Joe said his marriage vows to 10 years ago.

 You see, it was frustration that drew my sweet husband and me together.  Frustration with the list of boxes to check each week.  Frustration with doing instead of being. 

 I am so glad I am a princess in a kingdom that is not of this world (a kingdom that allows me to wear a ponytail instead of a tiara!!!).  John 18:36 says, “My kingdom is not of this world.”  I love what Dr. Oz has to say about this verse…nope not the Dr. Oz of TV fame (though I really like watching his show sometimes!!).  I jokingly call Oswald Chambers my “Dr. Oz”….if you have never read his classic “My Utmost For His Highest” then that little devotional book should be at the top of your Christmas list this year!

 Dr. Oz writes. . . “The great enemy of the Lord Jesus Christ today is the idea of practical work that has no basis in the New Testament but comes from the systems of this world.  This work insists upon endless energy and activities, but no private life with God. . . An active Christian worker too often lives to be seen by others, while it is the innermost, personal area that reveals the power of a person’s life.  We must get rid of the plague of the spirit of this religious age in which we live.  In our Lord’s life there was none of the pressure and the rushing of tremendous activity that we regard so highly today, and a disciple is to be like his Master.  The central point of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship with Him, not public usefulness to others.” 

 Can I get an “Amen?”

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