My husband has many way-of-life habits and practices that help him to stay focused, organized and productive. I have very few of those habits. But I do have some way-of-life practices that keep me following close and hard after Jesus.
I would love to tell you these practices have been easy for me, but I’m a slow learner. It has taken quite a few incidents and iterations for these to become fairly consistent in my life. May you be a faster learner than I have been.
My three most transformational way-of-life practices are: Live in awe, live in the Spirit, live in gratitude.
Live In Awe
We live in a time of such technological wonder and awe-inspiring special effects that nothing inspires or amazes us anymore. Yet we who are in Christ know personally the creator of the universe. The one who made the beauty that surrounds us and the intricacies of our bodies, actually lives in us.
I am in shock and awe that God himself made me, loves me, pursued me, redeemed me, and invited me to be on his Kingdom-building team. He wants a relationship with me and he desires to do amazing good works through me. I am bowed down in reverence, on my face, in awe of the Most High God who calls me his beloved, his treasure.
I never get over it. How can I respond? With complete humility and total surrender.
Live In The Spirit
More awe and amazement are called for here: God chooses to make his home in us. In me. He has sent his Spirit to live in me. He moved from a magnificent temple to dwell in me! That would be enough, but then that Holy Spirit goes to work:
He meets my needs: comfort, encouragement, courage, peace, wisdom….
He gives me gifts: talents and abilities for the work God has prepared for me. Armor for the spiritual battles that are sure to come. Reminders of all Jesus said and did. Power for all that God asks me to do.
He changes me: transformation of my mind, giving me the ability to think as he thinks—for the very thoughts of God to flow through me. A new heart that desires what God desires—for me, for family and friends, for our needy world.
He does the impossible: he declared it clearly—on my own I can do nothing, meaning NOTHING. But with God nothing, meaning NOTHING, is impossible. He is at work for me, in me, through me.
Live In Gratitude
The Word of God makes many preposterous statements, but one of the most challenging admonitions to us is to give thanks in everything.
Yes, all things, everything. How is that possible? See point above.
What happens when I do this?
When I say, “Thank you, Lord,” almost immediately my focus changes. Instead of centering on the pain caused by my circumstances, I center on God. Sometimes it is barely perceptible, but it’s there. A small shift from fear toward faith.
When I say, “Thank you, Lord,” I say, “I believe you are God and I believe you are good. It doesn’t feel like it right now, but your Word assures me it is true, I have known it to be true, and I choose to believe it now.”
When I say, “Thank you, Lord,”
I express trust in God and his trustworthiness. That step of faith and obedience does a couple of wonderful things. My mind and my emotions quiet, settle, perhaps even relax. I begin to experience peace in the midst of turmoil, hope when there seems to be none.
And in ways I don’t fully understand, saying “Thank you” begins to open doors. It’s as if those words said in hesitant trust give God a key to my heart and mind. With that key he unlocks doors shut by my pain, my anger, my fear, my resistance. I begin to get glimpses of answers to my prayers, of more steps forward than backward, of new attitudes. And occasionally of outright transformation. Want to try it for yourself?
Take time at least once a day to look in awe, to be amazed, to fall on your knees or even your face at what God has done for you. You may never get over it.
When you have a need, are confused or uncertain, are overcome by fear or pain or loss, or have an impossible situation, remember that you have the very Spirit of God living in you. Ask him for whatever you need—even the impossible. You may be surprised.
Practice saying, “Thank you, Lord.” When you find what you lost, when he gives wisdom in a tough conversation, when a dream comes true, remember to give thanks. And when the diagnosis is scary, or a child makes bad choices, or someone wrongs you, remember to give thanks. You may have new eyes to see the good God is doing.
So my prayer for myself and for you is that we will each day, more and more, as a way-of-life, live in awe, in the Spirit and in gratitude.
What about you? Which of these might you make a practice?