So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12:1-2 MSG)
Life is full of stressors, right? Some of them are physical, others emotional. It is what we do with them which really matters - not that they exist. I have found when I slow down a little, I really begin to sort out the things which are just adding to the stress and the things which are providing the right kind of stress which will actually help me grow. Now, let me explain. We have good and bad stressors in life. The good ones actually allow just enough tension so as to drive us toward some goal or produce some change. For example, apply a little exertion to a muscle and you will keep it in shape. Apply a little more tension to the muscle and you will begin to stress it. The stress you apply actually serves to "build" the muscle. Now, apply way to much stress and you get a tear, strain or sprain! The difference is in the amount of stress allowed.
Too much stress distracts us. As with the strained or sprained muscle, the stress ends up directing our attention toward the pain and not the thing which caused the stress in the first place. What does a strained muscle make us do? Either we give up, limping around, saying it was too hard and we now quit, or we massage the thing, go right back to what we were doing and continue to put the same amount of strain back into our lives. Do it long enough and you will realize permanent damage from the strain! One of the hardest things to do is to alter our course of action when stress is fully upon us. In fact, we view having to make such alterations as impeding our progress and therefore, a negative thing. One thing I know for sure - success is not in the continual doing of stuff which hurts us, but in realizing the stuff which needs to be eliminated in order to avoid the constant hurt!
Paul was warning the church to beware of the world getting us so wrapped up in its level of "immaturi-tay" by drawing us into the stuff which actually lends more stress to an already stressed life. I call this the "more must be better" philosophy. If you have ever tried something the first time, just a little smidgen of a taste, then find you liked the smidgen, you may have spooned up a heaping helping and sat down to enjoy it. Before you can even get halfway through the heaping helping, you find the "taste" you thought was pretty good actually turns on you when you have way too much of it on your plate! If you continue to take it all in until your plate is empty, you end up rather "sickly" - because you took in an amount you could neither tolerate nor could your body figure out what to do with it all! The same is true in our lives at is applies to the things we commit to do, the projects we take on, the things we think we must fit into our days. Too much of a good thing actually becomes more than we can tolerate and more than we can figure out what to do with!
Our culture tells us more is better. Our heart tells us less was simpler. Our spirit tells us we will always have enough if we keep our focus right. Which one are we going to listen to? The one we listen to the most will be the one we see the outcomes from the quickest. Listen to what the surrounding culture in your workplace, neighborhoods, or society at large tells you is important and a "must have" in your life, and you will be miserable toting around a whole bunch of stuff you never knew you "needed". Things like extra debt, things you don't have the time or talent to maintain, etc. Listen to your hearts and you will yearn for the good old days when life seemed to be simpler. Listen to your spirit and you will hear clearly - enough is all you need.
I will leave you with this quote from Bob Parks:
I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Goodbye.”
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