Fall is here and I love seeing all the posts on social media about the beauty of the season and the crispness of the air. God really does display His artistic creativity in the hue of the autumn leaves, the seemingly unlimited shapes of the gourds, and the delicious variety of apples to choose at the local farm.
But, honestly, I’m so over it.
You heard me, I’m totally done with fall.
You see, while most people are enjoying the cooler temperatures and the beautiful array of colours on our Canadian trees, my eyes are already on the horizon and I’m looking ahead to Christmas. I’m thinking about decorations, colour schemes, promotional campaigns, advertising cards, and posters. And just when normal people like you are getting into the Christmas spirit, I am bah-humbugging it all the way to New Year’s Eve.
One of the dangers of ministry, particularly in communication, is that I constantly have one foot in the present and another in the future. I can recite all the dates of all the Sundays for the next two months. My calendar already tells me when I need to put up Christmas décor and when to take it down. I’m already scoping out banners for the Easter service and thinking about movie nights for next summer. While it might seem good that I’m an overly-ambitious (obsessive) planner, the reality is that I can get so far ahead of myself that I neglect the needs of the present.
Sadly, this also translates to my spiritual life. I tell myself that I will have more time for personal devotions later, I will have more time to talk with my friends about Jesus later, and later I will give more, serve more, and do more for Jesus, later. So many plans for the things I am going to do later, but what about today?
What is the solution for people like me (and maybe people like you) who live so far into the then that they forget to enjoy the now. Who are so consumed with the notion of later that they skip over the today. Here are three thoughts from God's Word.
1. Let God Lead.
Psalm 90:10–12 says, “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
God has set a specific number of days for us to live on this earth, and when God calls us home we cease to have bodily, physical impact on this earth. I will not be able to make plans, and you will not be there to ensure everything gets done. Instead of considering my formidable list of to-dos for the days ahead, I need to consider what God wants me to accomplish today. Our days are finite, so let us use our time in pursuit of God's plans and not our own.
God, teach me not to plan every step, instead teach me what it means to walk in step with you. Soften my heart so that I let you lead. Teach me to number my days so that I am acutely aware of the urgency of the Gospel message.
2. Be the Right Kind of Wise
Proverbs 3:7-8 tells us, “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”
Notice that God doesn’t say, “Don’t be wise,” but he says, “Don’t be wise in your own eyes.” When I am wise in my own eyes I run ahead of God and plan away all of my tomorrows. But the right kind of wise means fearing God, having an awe-filled reverence for Him and Holiness. It means casting aside my tendency to plan every single detail. It means trusting God and His plan. It means having faith in God’s faithfulness. And instead of being exhausted with all of my worry-planning I can be refreshed for the journey ahead.
God, draw our eyes to you and your holiness. Remind me of the many times you have shown Yourself to be faithful so that I might be faith-filled. Heal my flesh and refresh my bones as I rest in you.
3. Seek Peace
John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give you.”
In this passage, Jesus is telling His disciples that soon it will be time for Him to leave and fulfill the plan that the Father had from the beginning. But when Jesus leaves the Holy Spirit will come and dwell with them. The Spirit will teach them and remind them of all that Jesus had told them while on earth, and the Spirit will bring them (and us!) peace. The world tells you that you’ll have peace when you have planned everything to a 'T', and only then can you sit down and rest. But the Spirit assures you that you will have peace when you are living in right relationship with God. Does the Holy Spirit indwell every single Christ-follower? Absolutely! Am I always seeking the Spirit’s peace? Absolutely…not. I fight against His timing. I make myself so busy that I forget to seek peace. I forget that living in right-relationship means acknowledging God as the ultimate plan-maker in this life.
Jesus, thank You for your Spirit. When I am tempted to fill my days with busy-work, slow me down. Draw me to the true peace that only You can give, and lead me far away from the false peace that the world promises me.
Maybe you’re not like me. Maybe you can look at the colours of fall and feel a deep sense of satisfaction at this time and place in your life. But if you are already ten steps ahead and thinking about Christmas shopping and holiday dinners and snow shovelling and ice storms and New Year’s Eve plans and Spring Break and…
Let God take the lead. He has a better plan than you could ever come up with. Be the right kind of wise, not wise in your own eyes until you are exhausted, but wise in your relationship with God so you can be refreshed. And seek peace. Don’t try to plan everything until it’s perfect, instead hide yourself in the presence of the Lord.
In the meantime if you need me I’ll be sitting outside with a cup of coffee and my Bible, completely ignoring the call of the Christmas flyers.