A new way - a new list

God's presence - my words - his attention - answers given. Isn't that how each of us would like things to work each and every time we need his answer to something we are dealing with? God's personal attention in our lives is the hope of each believer. I have never had a personal trainer at a gym (although I could use one), or a personal financial adviser, but I imagine those who enjoy the influence of these individuals in their lives see real benefit to their advice. But...all they offer is advice - we still choose what to do with the advice we receive. When we come to God, he gives more than advice! He gives answers! I cannot imagine a better personal trainer than the Holy Spirit! I cannot fathom better advice than what we find in the Word of God! I doubt there is anyone's attention more devoted to each of us than God's!

Let my cry come right into your presence, God; provide me with the insight that comes only from your Word. Give my request your personal attention, rescue me on the terms of your promise. (Psalm 119:169-170)

Whenever I have moments of distress, I want to stand assured my cries go directly to the source of all help: God himself! No middle man involved - just direct access, front and center with God. It took me a long time to realize the intention of God's heart is this kind of free access to him at any moment, regardless of how big or small my distress! In fact, I lived like most of us do, believing something was just too trivial to "bother" God with - so, in my misguided belief, I'd "work it out" myself. I'd have to admit to you that these 'self-made' fixes were really not all that beneficial to me! My way of fixing things differs vastly from God's! I want the immediate fix and he almost always wants the more permanent, lasting fix.

Who is your source of light in your darkness? Who is the provider of peace in the midst of chaos? If you cannot answer with ALL assurance that it is God and God ALONE, it is time to take a step back. In stepping back, we often see best where we have been heading! In the pursuit of light or peace, we often get caught up in the void of darkness and the pointlessness of our lack of peace. In taking even one moment to pause, we change our perspective. You probably think this is a little silly, but humor me. Go to the mirror. Look long and hard at the reflection you see - - not at the grey hairs, the wrinkles, or even the little hairs needing to be tweezed! Just look at YOU. Are you the same person today as you were a year ago? In a physical sense, the answer is definitely "no"! None of us lives from one day to the next without some change in our physical bodies. Cells alive yesterday are sloughed today; those here today may be gone tomorrow. It is the course of life.

Now, take a piece of paper. Draw a line down the middle. Put a small title at the top of each column - the one on the left should read "Past", the one on the right "Present". On the left side, begin to write down some of the blessings of God in your life you can remember from even the last three months or so (if you can remember the past six months, go for it). Maybe you were in financial need and you got an unexpected rebate check. Perhaps you were experiencing the loneliness of loss and you received a note which built up your inner man at a low point in your day. The blessings don't have to be "big", just whatever comes to mind. This is a powerful exercise because it focuses us on the many 'treasured' moments when God intervened with the 'fix' just as we needed it in our lives. If I had asked you to make a list of your failures, frustrations, or "unanswered" prayers, you'd have penciled a list in about three minutes flat! Why is this easier than recounting God's blessings? It is a matter of perspective - our focus. We "trouble" our worries, and our worries "trouble" us! Liberty comes in learning to change our perspective - not just in thought life, but in our entire focus. When we transition from believing God is only there for the "big" stuff to trusting him for even the "wee" stuff of life, we begin to treasure the blessings of having the "personal attention" of God! 

Did you think I forgot the other side of the paper? Nope! Here's your challenge: On the right side of the paper, begin to list the things you are trying to manage on your own today - to find the fix for in some manner you can 'manage'. Maybe you are dealing with a negative co-worker and have been continually frustrated with the interactions. Write the name of the individual there. Perhaps it is that "small matter" of being faithful with daily Bible study. Write it down! With each item you add, write a short descriptor of what you have been "trying" as a means of 'fixing' the issue. For example, if you have been "trying" to be faithful to daily study, you might write down "Daily study - reading plan, devotional book, and journal". You have "tried" a reading plan (a set list of what to read each day), going through devotionals written by others, and keeping a journal of what you are reading. None of these has made you any more "faithful". The faithfulness part is only something that comes as God brings the 'fix' into our lives. We don't need more of his love, we need to learn to love him more!

Now, tear or cut your list into two pieces right down the middle of those two columns. Go to the mirror again. Tape up the 'blessings' side. Now, each time you return to the mirror, reflect on what God accomplished in your life already. You may very well become overwhelmed by the fact of God's personal attention on your behalf! When we actually give him the chance to personally affect our lives, he proves himself faithful over and over again! The other side of the list - put it somewhere you don't always see it, but where you can get at it easily. Pick one day from your week (perhaps Sunday) and pull the saved list out. Sit some place quietly long enough to read through the list prayerfully each week. In other words, as you read about that financial need or troubling co-worker, give God some time to speak to you about the person, the circumstances, your response, etc. As you do this throughout the weeks ahead, when the things you have been "troubling" over, or that have been "troubling" you may very well change. As they do, add a date, and a short description of what God has done. You are going to be making a new list of blessings! Just sayin!

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