Life in Focus

Where following Jesus and Every Day Life Intersect

Receiving God’s Gifts Requires Action

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Rolling over on my side, I looked at the clock and groaned. It was three in the morning and I was wide-awake–my mind churning through a series of “what ifs” and unfinished items on my “to do” list. I had one more day to make preparations before my husband and I would be leaving on a trip, but instead of being excited, my stomach was tangled in a knot of stress. Months earlier he came home from work with a glossy brochure depicting white sand beaches and swaying palm trees on the sunny shores of Florida. It looked enticing and wouldn’t cost us a thing, but all of the preparations necessary seemed daunting. As our departure date drew nearer, I felt bad about being away from our kids and worried about all of the responsibilities I was leaving behind. For a fleeting moment, we even considered cancelling the trip, wondering if the stress it was causing was worth it.

Fortunately, wisdom prevailed and we realized our boys would be fine and our responsibilities would still be waiting for us when we returned. I boarded the plane with a backpack full of books, ready to tackle some projects that needed to be accomplished. I’d been putting them off for a while and figured I could be productive while my husband attended morning meetings.

On our first day there I propped my feet on a chair overlooking the ocean and sat with my Bible and journal on my lap.

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As the warm breeze soothed me and I listened to the waves crash on the shore, I prayed and asked God to forgive me.  For months my life had been moving at a frantic pace and I’d been craving rest and refreshment, yet when He provided something far greater than my hopes, I’d almost rejected it. I needed some time to let my soul catch up with me. Instead of jumping in to tackle my projects, I prayed and offered God my precious hours of free time.   I sat and enjoyed His presence, letting His peace wash over me.

Later, as my husband and I relaxed on the beach I realized our trip was a great illustration for our spiritual lives. The Bible makes it clear that God has so much to offer us through His free gift of grace. Still, we have to make the choice to accept it and to invite Him to transform every aspect of our lives. He doesn’t just want us to look at the enticing brochure with pictures of a tropical paradise. He wants us to accept the gift and experience swimming in the warm water of His love and digging our toes into the sand of His grace.

IMG_0425Do you ever glance at the Bible like a travel brochure–dreaming about the places God could take you but never actually letting Him show you first hand? It’s great to study about concepts like love, grace, faith and forgiveness. However, until we begin putting them into practice, they aren’t really affecting us. Take a look at the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11 and you’ll see what I mean. The revered Bible characters listed there showed their faith in God through believing His words and then taking action. There are a lot of verbs in that passage. Heroes of the faith like Abraham, Noah, Moses and Rahab demonstrated that they believed God’s words by following His instructions.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot in light of a passage God keeps bringing to mind. In Ephesians 3:20 the apostle Paul reminds us that God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (NIV) I can imagine some pretty big things, so if God’s power can do even more than what I can think of, then I want access to it. I don’t want to just know it’s there– I want to see how He can use it in my life. I don’t want to let the worries of my daily life choke out the opportunities to see God at work. Instead, I want to give my challenges, fears and dreams to Him and trust that He can work through them.

I almost let my worries keep me from an amazing trip with my husband. There is so much I would have missed if we hadn’t gone, and I never would have known it. And the thing that makes me smile most is that God did provide time for me to open every book I brought in my backpack. But instead of being in a frenzy of productivity, I found time to read and study when God prompted me. After being refreshed by Him, I enjoyed working on my projects instead of seeing them as a chore.

It’s funny how often I need to be reminded that when I invite God into my circumstances He makes everything fall into place. He even fills me with joy and peace in the process.

To hear more about this idea, click on the link to hear Jamie Grace’s song “It’s a Beautiful Day.”

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Author: mmccullum

Marybeth McCullum enjoys writing and blogging about her Christian faith and how it intersects with everyday life. Her goal in every post is to encourage, challenge and inspire her readers. She is in her 10th year at CPC's Focused Living Women's Bible study and currently serves as Coordinator. She also writes a regular blog and speaks occasionally. You can find her page on Facebook at: Marybeth Mc Cullum- Author. Learn more about her other endeavors at marybethmccullum.com.

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