Choose the right stuff

My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life. I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths. When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble. Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life. (Proverbs 4:10-15)

We begin a lot of things, but how many of them do we actually finish? In terms of finishing, we don't do as well as we do with the beginning part! To finish well, we need to have not only tenacity, but we need to have set out on an endeavor we find worthwhile and rewarding. If the thing we set out to do is so overbearing and adds burden instead of delight, we get bogged down and often lay it aside because it is "too hard". It is like when we say we will read the Bible in a year. We find ourselves reading for the sake of reading - not really taking time to savor the truth contained within. We plug on through the "boring" chapters, get excited about checking off the finished portions, and then look at how much still lays ahead. The issue is not so much in the starting, it is in the finishing. How we finish is as important as that we actually finish! Consider what you have committed to in life. If you are to fulfill your commitments, you need to be aware of how your choices will affect what it is you choose to remember and what it is you will let go of as you journey through life. You and I also need to figure out who or what it is we will allow to reign in our lives. If that isn't enough, we need to keep in mind that there are things that will need to be released - relinquished completely because they have no part in the "ending" even though we might have been holding onto them in the beginning or picked them up along the way.

All choices we make result in some form of action. These actions produce memory - good or bad, pleasing or disagreeable, fruitful or wasteful. The choices we make impact the memories we will have of the journey. Most of us focus on the "stuff" in the journey - not the memories we are forming along the way. These very memories may present us with problems or provision in the future. We might observe Job in scripture, having gone through a lot - losing home, family, livestock, land. He was covered in some kind of disgusting skin disorder which left him sitting on a pile of poop, scraping the disgusting skin lesions with a shard of pottery. What memories do you think he may have been able to make in those moments? He could choose to hold onto the memories of how much misery he went through, the pain of the losses, or the agony of the disease. Yet, as we view the end of his life, we see he chose not to hold onto any of those awful memories. He chose to hold onto the memories of God walking him through each of those agonizingly tough areas! Nothing is more powerful than our memory during times of stress, uncomfortable ordeal, and hardship. What we choose to hold onto in the recesses of our brain may actually be the determining factor between just finishing the tough times and finishing those times quite well.

If you have ever gone through stuff maybe more than a little challenging, you probably have struggled with the tendency to want to "talk about" the stuff a lot. In other words, you choose to focus on the issues at hand by "rehearsing" the issues over and over. There is so much power in our words - what we choose to rehearse in our words often becomes the thing we believe in our hearts! Maybe this is why God instructs us to hide his Word in our hearts and to recall it in times of testing and trial. When we rehearse the right stuff, we often don't get into the misery of the moment so much. We elevate our perspective through the words we choose to speak! All of us have "history" and sometimes we tend to be a little histrionic. We get all wigged out by the things which have happened to us and what we have had to go through in life. Sometimes we just need to let go of this stuff if we are ever to move on. Some of our history isn't helping us finish - it is holding us back! To move on, we have to let go! Actions move us - just like the wind moves the leaves on the tree. You may not "see" the wind, but you see the evidence of the action of the wind. The same is true of some of the things which we choose to hold onto in life - we don't always see them, but we see the results in the actions which are produced. Therefore, learning to maintain the right perspective in the midst of the "stuff" we journey through and taking control of what it is we will choose to remember is important to producing the right actions (the right movement) in our lives. Just sayin!

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