Learn, grow, change

When I first started working out to my favorite exercise DVD, I had to practice the moves over and over to get them right. I would watch the leader and adjust my movements if I realized I was doing something incorrectly. Like a lot of people who begin exercise programs, I stopped. Well, you know how it is, I took some trips, went through a bout with bronchitis and just never got back to it. If you’ve read my other posts from this year, you know I started up again. At my age, exercise isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. So when I began that same routine, I had to start slowly and work up to speed. I noticed I had to adjust all over again to certain movements, as I had forgotten exactly what to do.

In our spiritual lives, we sometimes have to do the same thing – adjust our ideas and behavior when we discover we’re doing something wrong. The other day I snapped at someone. I didn’t stop to think before opening my mouth and immediately regretted it. But I realized it was a good thing in that it helped me make some adjustments. Sometimes we have to make adjustments in how we look at verses in the Bible too – we can think we know what they say and/or mean, but we have to be open to new understanding from the Holy Spirit who teaches and leads us into all Truth – to Jesus, who is Truth.

Being a believer doesn’t necessarily mean we have everything figured out. Reading the Bible once or even a hundred times doesn’t make us experts. We are told to grow in grace and knowledge, which makes me think we should be careful not to think we know everything. Learning is an open ended, lifelong process. There are times we must let go of what we think is set-in-stone understanding and be open to the Holy Spirit and how he wants us to grow. There’s no DVD to follow, but there is a Shepherd to follow and he does know everything.

More signs of Spring

Along with the good comes the bad – side by side in my garden, pretty flowers and weeds. I’m one of those rare California birds who actually does her own yard work so today found me outside mowing, edging, trimming, weeding and spraying even more weeds. It’s amazing how many weeds can grow in one small yard. I did have fun using my weed sprayer, especially on some errant Bermuda grass. I hate that stuff!

When we lived in Arizona, I tried unsuccessfully to keep the Bermuda grass out of my flower beds. I used to have nightmares about what I dubbed “devil grass.” I was told if you coveredĀ  your whole yard in black plastic, Bermuda grass would grow under it until it found a hole and it would come up and stick out its tongue at you. I can’t help but think of sin when I’m pulling out devil grass. We are never free from it, and even when we think we are, it lies in wait for an opportunity to reach out and grab us.

Paul put it so well in Romans 8 when he said, “When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway” (verse 19, NLT). “Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord” (verses 24-25). Thank God for his amazing grace that completely covers our sins. I just hope my weed spray works half as well.

Where’s my focus?

I’ve been wearing progressive lens eyeglasses for a few months. It took a couple of weeks to adjust to seeing through three different areas of focus. If you wear them you understand. Even though I’m pretty comfortable with them now, I still sometimes lose my focus. Every now and then as I look at something I have to move my head and eyes all around to find the clear spot and I wonder what’s up with that?

We can lose our focus spiritually too. We can become sidetracked into areas that really aren’t important and have nothing to do with salvation or living a godly life. Our focus needs to remain solely on Jesus, who brings love and grace to us through the Holy Spirit, as we give our praise to God the Father. Remember, the plain things are the main things and the main things are the plain things.

Let’s keep our focus on Jesus, even if we have to occasionally adjust our line of sight, or rather, let the Holy Spirit adjust our line of sight. It’s best left to him.

Is anyone more merciful than God?

One day last week I skipped a workout. This was on a day when I had planned to exercise, but my energy level was low and I just didn’t really want to do it. This week, due to my yearly trek to downtown LA to work at Staples Center during March Madness, I will miss several days. But as I said in an earlier post, I’m not going to feel guilty or beat myself up. I’m also not going to use the few days off as an excuse to stop. I’ve done that before and called it inertia.

When I mess up, I’m usually merciful to myself (and good at rationalizations). When our good intentions go awry or we make a mistake, we quickly justify our action or inaction. We often don’t give others the same latitude. We judge and criticize and wonder what’s wrong with them, and we incorrectly project our attitude onto God. Those who don’t understand much about God think he is always looking for opportunities to punish us. But do we love ourselves more than God? The OneĀ  who created us is not less merciful than we are; he doesn’t love us less than we love ourselves or our children or friends/family. I can’t remember who said it, but I read somewhere the theology of many doesn’t allow God to love us more than we love our children.

The truth is God loves us more than we love ourselves, our spouses, children, parents and God himself! We love poorly and conditionally – he loves perfectly and unconditionally. I’m going to get back to my workouts next week and while I’m sweating it out, I’ll be praising God for his love that keeps me going.