I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29.11
Life is meant to be enjoyed. Look around, God has placed us in a world custom-designed with us in mind. He has given us everything we need to enjoy life at its best. We are the ones who have shipwrecked our own enjoyment. Allow me to give you some practical suggestions that will help us return to the good life God has in mind for us…
Be yourself. I don’t know all the formulas for success, but I know one for failure: trying to be someone we’re not. God created us as individuals, giving us different talents, gifts, personalities, and desires. We are not cookie-cut from God’s mold. We are each created by God’s unique design. Jeremiah contends that God knew us before we were formed in the womb, and he set us apart for His use. He is the potter, we are the clay. God has a personality and purpose for each of us; fighting against that personality and purpose leads to a life that is less than it was meant to be, a life of frustration. We must be comfortable in our own skin. Stop trying to be somebody we’re not, be yourself.
Take time alone with God. There are times when we are exhausted; times when life deals us a bad hand; people disappoint and hurt us; times when temptation dogs us; times when we fail. We must learn to deal with such occasions within self. We must learn to use silence and solitude. Jesus is our example. How many times do we find Him going to a solitary place, just He and God. When Jesus heard of John the Baptist’s death, he found a place of silence and solitude. After a long, tiring, day of teaching, healing many and casting out demons, Jesus gets up early and goes to a place of solitude to pray. In the Garden before His arrest Jesus prays alone. In times of stress, disappointment and fear; silence and solitude can be a time of learning, examination, and comfort. David said it well: “Be still and know that I am God.” Allow God to refresh our spirits. He will! Indeed, moments of meditation, reflection, repentance and recommitment give genuine meaning to life.
Don’t take yourself so seriously. Find joy in the small things. Take time to smell the roses. Be ready to laugh. Count your blessings. “A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17.22). Paul admonishes us to “rejoice, and again I say rejoice.” Know that some thoughts have no useful purpose: “So, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Philippians 4.8).
Capture the moment. Every family has them: Photograph albums, boxes filled with pictures that are viewed every so often. Viewing such always brings back memories of good times. Photographs freeze-frame precious moments. Life will take on new meaning if we’ll make time each day to hit the pause button. Mother Mary is our example: Twice Luke tells us that Mary treasured, pondered, the moments; once in the stable visit by the Shepherds, and once after finding lost Jesus in the Temple. In today’s hurried over-scheduled world, our challenge is taking time to thank God for the moment and the people in it: be it time with family, friends, church or working companions. Maybe it’s just an occasion when we stop and smell the roses. Paul admonishes us to “redeem the time, making the most of every moment, every opportunity.”
Never take God and His presence for granted. So easy isn’t it? We get caught up in our day: the alarm, a quick bite between the kitchen and the shower, off to work, a busy day, the kids to soccer, another quick bite at McDonalds; home, exhausted! Where is there room for God? Paul reminds us that it is “in Him we live, move, and have our being.” We sing it, “Without Him I am nothing, without Him I’d surely fail.” I believe the secret here is not taking time for God as much as it is becoming constantly aware of the fact that He is present with us, in us, around us, listening to us, sustaining, protecting, forgiving, saving us in an ever-changing world.
Life is fragile. Life is uncertain. Life is short. May God help us make the most of every moment. Amen? “ know the plans I have for you… Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ENJOY!!
Randall Caselman, Bentonville, Arkansas Via Belle Vista Church of Christ Website