S-t-r-e-t-c-h!

If I haven’t done the work, I won’t be ready.

Don’t worry, I don’t think my salvation depends on the things I do. It absolutely does not. But, since I am in a relationship with God, communication is important. Stepping out in faith is a part of the package and sometimes it is a s-t-r-e-t-c-h!

Stretching helps me be ready for what is next.

Recently, I tried to do something I have done many times before. This time, however, it took a lot more effort than I care to admit. What happened in the time between when I last did this activity and now? Plenty of nothing.

And just like that, I wasn’t ready for what I wanted to do.

It was discouraging and maddening. And a not-so-gentle reminder of how abilities can disintegrate when not used on a regular basis. It feels like I am starting over.

Of course, life is about starting over — a lot!

And it seems like faith works the same way. I have my core faith. My baptism promise. My confidence in God’s ongoing work in my heart and life. And when I abide in Him, my roots stretch and grow. When I don’t, I can’t expect to have a rich relationship. God always meets me where I am and patiently waits for me. But life will always put demands on me. I would much rather be stretched and molded into God’s perspective so I can choose to respond in a Godly way to the circumstances around me. I want to be sensitive to His guidance and leading and ready to do the next thing. If I always have to stop and start from square one, I won’t be in spiritual shape for what is next.

Naturally, God is there, ready for me. It doesn’t matter if I am two steps forward or ten steps behind. My story is His-story so He uses all of it and redeems it all.

His love brings about my response. Allowing Him to grow my faith and trust is a part of the process!

Even though Paul wrote this to the Thessalonians, it reminds us that growing in faith increases or capacity for other things.

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. 2 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV

God’s blessings on your week!
Liz

Reaction vs. Response

For some reason, those two words feel very differently to me. So I checked in with Merriam Webster to see what the distinction might be. I guess the difference is mainly that a response, as an action, is neutral but a reaction can be positive or negative. I don’t know. What do you think?

Definition of reaction

1athe act or process or an instance of reacting

bresistance or opposition to a force, influence, or movement especially tendency toward a former and usually outmoded political or social order or policy

2a response to some treatment, situation, or stimulus her stunned reaction to the news alsosuch a response expressed verbally critical reaction to the play

Definition of response

1an act of responding 

2something constituting a reply or a reaction: such as

aa verse, phrase, or word sung or said by the people or choir after or in reply to the officiant in a liturgical service

bthe activity or inhibition of previous activity of an organism or any of its parts resulting from stimulation

cthe output of a transducer or detecting device resulting from a given input

How do you respond to situations? What is your tendency? Do you rush to judgment? Collect the facts first? Are you willing to hear everyone out? Are you a “reactor” or a “responder”?

Of course, it all depends on the situation. Some do call for quick action. But for normal, everyday things that happen, do you have a tendency to be negative about whatever you are facing?

And are you happy with it?

Training ourselves to respond calmly to situations is important. Paying attention to the words that come out of our mouths is important. Along with that, habits like eye-rolling, heavy sighing, foot stomping, door slamming, needing to have the last word, and low-register grumbling are just as important to gain control of.

Here is a challenge for both you and me:

Let’s spend the next 24 hours without uttering a complaint. Will life be all rosy and full of tulips and puppy kisses? I doubt it. But we can still spend 24 hours not verbally complaining. If you really need to “complain”, write it down in a notebook and in 24 hours decide if you still need to present the complaint.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] [Philippians 2: 14-15, NIV]

Blessings to you as you consider reactions and responses!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: BOXES