For the past six years, God has been bringing me through a journey of enlightenment and freedom (that’s fancy talk, for “a bumpy road of obedience and discipline”). First, it started with the scaling back of material things to an almost minimalist lifestyle. I say almost minimalist because our tiny house is bursting with stuff, and I NEED IT ALL! Really I don’t NEED it, but the pieces I do have in my home have sentimental value and allow me to be creative by showing my personal style. My husband calls my style “granny chic” because my collection is filled with lace doilies, knitted blankets, tea cups, milk glass, scented candles, and nothing matches. Six years ago we went from a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home to a cozy 800 square foot home. We moved. I cried. But God was faithful.
Then God set us on a path to get our financial life in order according to the Word of God. The Bible study that helped me through the process is called, The Blessed Life: Unlocking the Rewards of Generous Living by Robert Morris. (You can also watch Pastor Morris’s series here.) Bringing the minimalist thought process from our new dwelling situation into our checkbook was a challenge. New and foreign strategies had to be implemented like, saving ALL the receipts AND if there was a tip, writing that in too. Also, we said NO to frivolous spending. GASP! There were many raised voices in those conversations. I cried. But God was faithful.
Now most recently, the journey is focused on the renewing of my mind. I thought I had it all together spiritually. Nope. How did I know? Because when I was faced with obstacles I lost hope, whined and complained, and often times uncorked a bottle or two. That reaction does not reflect the fruits of the spirit when under pressure:
Galatians 6:22: But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
John 1:12: But to all who believed in Him and accepted Him, he gave the right to become children of God.
I discovered who I am in Christ, I thought I knew but really, (sigh) I didn’t. Not until God repeated it over and over to me in various ways in a two day time span did I really get it. I heard Him in scripture, in songs, in study, through conversation, words written in my own hand, in the car, at work, on Facebook. His words were chasing me and I stopped brushing off the importance of His message. He wanted me to know that I, little ‘ole me, was His girl, His daughter, His friend, His everything. I cried. But God was faithful.
The first step I needed to take in the renewing of my mind was ask God, “What am I filling my mind with you don’t approve of?” Then I took a step back and let Him reveal it to me. Romans 12:2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect! I suddenly had a hyper focus on the movies and shows we were watching. The foul language, unnecessary nudity, blood, guts and gore were shocking. Where those things never bothered me before now, my inner self was feeling assaulted. “Ok God, I’ll start here.”
Unbeknownst to my husband, I drug him along my journey. Remember the part in the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where mamma says, “De man eez de head but de woman is de neck and she can turn de head anyway she wants.” I didn’t spell out my plans to him but from one day to the next our tv watching went from flying dragons, upside down demons, and zombies to BBC series shows, history and documentaries/docudramas, animated movies, basically family friendly shows rated G or PG, PG13 was iffy. It finally became obvious to my husband that our tv time was dramatically different. He said, “babe, I’m not going to watch anymore cartoons!” In my mind I laughed hysterically. I agreed. Now when tv time comes around and he asks, “what do you want to watch?” I let him choose but say, “whatever you want, as long as it’s family friendly (wink).” He grumbles a little bit but, he loves me so much protecting me supersedes anything else.
Taking a step back from tv allowed me to see the differences in myself. My eating habits were better. I had more time to read, write, practice my guitar. I had more mental energy and stamina. I remembered people that needed encouragement. I wrote letters and made phone calls to relatives and friends I hadn’t talked to in a while. I talked to God more. Not reverent prayer but an intimate conversation about nothing and everything. I thanked God more because my eyes were shifted and now fixed on Him. My husband and I grew closer because we were talking more AND because of this, I found opportunities to pray for him.
Friends, there are times, when I want to disconnect from the world and curl up with my pup and a remote and just think about nothing. Especially after a rough and mentally tiresome day. After all, it seems like a less confrontational way to cope with life. But what good will that do? I can’t find God’s truth in my stressors if the tv is blaring in the background. Matthew 6:22 Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. In this case healthy to me means spiritually healthy, with simple, wholehearted devotion to God. How can God speak if I drown him out?
I have realized one of the ways my mind was being overcome. Can I challenge you today to ask the same question? “God what am I filling my mind with that You don’t approve of?” Then take a step back and allow God to reveal it to you in His time. Remember to spiritually arm yourself from self-harming thoughts
Ephesians 6:12: For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
You and I are Heavenly places because God dwells in us! And, when we need some internal house cleaning to make our heavenly place fit for the presence of the Holy Spirit, God will pick us up, dust us off and make us shiny again.
Reducing our environmental footprint, expenses and eliminating credit card debt brought us much freedom. However, the newfound liberation God is bringing me through right now, is more than freedom. I am being transformed and strengthened through Christ. I am victorious! Romans 8:37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
Sit and soak a few minutes with this song:
Never Once – Matt Redman
Precious Heavenly Father, you are so faithful. Never once will we ever walk alone. Amen