Saturday, May 21, 2011

Peace and Perfectionism

Some of us are trying too hard to do too much. We are weary and don't find the peace we are seeking. If you are an over-achiever, you may need to slow down to find peace. You may need to say "no" to some less essential things so that you can embrace the simple joys of living.

God knows you better than you know yourself. He wants you to be happy. He wants to enfold you in the arms of His love. To experience that bliss, we need to tune out the world with its worries and fears and tune into the comfort of God's infinite compassion for each one of us.

When God asked us to become "perfect," as the Bible suggests, the Greek origin of that word is "whole" and "complete". God wants us to develop our talents and gifts in a joyful manner. He wants us to learn to love and forgive completely and without reservation. He wants heal us with His grace and unimaginable power, but He does not want us to wear ourselves out chasing unrealistic goals.

Yesterday I attended my brother-in-law Ray's funeral. During the past year, two brothers and two of my dearest friends have died. Most of my extended family have passed away, and I've grieved at the loss of many of my closest friends. These dear people have taught me many lessons about finding peace. Here are a few:

Don't sweat the small stuff. People who are dying treasure time with loved ones. They don't care about the material possessions they have accumulated but value precious moments spent with close friends and family members. People who don't sweat the small stuff experience greater peace than those who do.

Live in the moment. The past is gone. Don't fret about it. The future is ahead. Don't worry about events that may never occur. Plan wisely and then enjoy the beauties of life. Listen to the birds chirping outside your window. Notice the leaves blooming on the trees. Watch the sparkle in the eyes of your loved ones. Breathe deeply and reflect on the blessings which God has given you.

Celebrate life. My dear brother-in-law Terry has buried two wives, two sons, and his beloved granddaughter is currently fighting brain cancer.His life has been very difficult, yet his trials have taught him that God lives and loves Him. Terry shares God's love with others by sending them an inspirational text each morning that he has composed. He reaches out to those who are grieving and invites family members to lunch each week. He loves life and has become a hero to those of us who are fortunate to know and love him.

Remember that ideals are not sticks to beat ourselves with but stars to steer by. Only one man ever walked the earth, and Jesus was and is God incarnate. As we learn from His example, we realize that God Himself took times to go into the mountains and commune with His Father. He took time to meditate and rest. Our Sabbaths offer us a day of spiritual renewal, and we can take time each day to refresh our spirits as we pray, read the Scriptures, and bask in God's love.

I like the story of the little cracked pot. A waterbearer in India had two large pots. One hung on each end of a pole, which she carried across her neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the mistress's house. The cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily. The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, but the cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream: "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"

The pot replied, "I have been able for these past two years to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your mistress's house. Because of my flaws, you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer replied, "As we return to the mistress's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

As they went up the hill, the cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some, but at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so it again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them.

“For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my mistress's table. Without you being just the way you are, she would not have this beauty to grace her house."

May we remember that each of us can become instruments in God's hands as we give our hearts--and our weaknesses--to Him and and allow Him to make our weak things strong according to I will and perfect timing.

© Carol Brown

Friday, May 6, 2011

Peace-filled Thinking

When we center our thoughts on love, hope, and faith, we experience peace. In a world filled with messages of hate and despair, sometimes we find that we lose the sense of serenity that we seek, yet peace is available. Consider the words of Paul, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7).

Paul teaches us how to turn negative thoughts into peace-filled ones in this simple statement. Here a few tips that may help you experience greater peace and happiness as you implement Paul's advice.

Give your worries to God.

All of us have concerns and troubles at times, and when we do, we need a Higher Power to help us. We can tell God about all of our worries and fears and then give them to Him. Let Him carry them. Let Him comfort us.

Ask for help.

Life is too hard to make it on our own. We need God's help. Ask Him specifically for the things you need. If you need help on a test, ask Him help you remember the things you've studied. If you need help in a relationship, ask Him what you can do to strengthen and sustain it? If you need help in solving a difficult problem, study out possible solutions and then ask God to confirm if your choice is the right one. He waits to listen and is the best Counselor ever!

Give thanks in all things.

Many times when we find we are discouraged and disheartened, we are forgetting to express gratitude for the blessings we have. Can you see? Give thanks. Can you walk? Give thanks. Can you hear? Give God praise for that gift. Can you smell, taste, breathe, laugh, and love? Thank God for those precious gifts. As we focus on what we have--and not on what we lack--we discover that we are rich in the things that really matter.

Ask God to guard your thoughts and feelings.

If you find yourself berating yourself or others, ask Him to give you compassion. If you find yourself condemning yourself or others, ask Him to give you mercy. If you find yourself losing hope, ask Him to strengthen your faith. Then, after you ask for His help, decide to change your thoughts. Think positively of yourself and others. Choose to forgive. Spend time each day praising God and remembering His many acts of kindness and tender mercy.

God wants us to be happy. As we center on thoughts on Christ, He will show us how to experience peace. We know apostle Paul suffered throughout his life with physical infirmities, and yet God used Him as a powerful instrument for good. Paul wrote that the Lord told him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Paul replied, "Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me....For when I am weak, then am I strong."

May you find the peace this day that God is so eager to give you.