Marathon Mindset

Please tell me I am not the only one who gets tired of doing the things that need to be done. Household chores. Unpleasant tasks at work. Taking care of people. Paying bills. Attending activities. Serving at church. There are many more things we could add. We all have moments when we simply do not want to do what is right. We want to do what we want. But, as God’s daughters, we are conflicted because we know our attitudes and actions are wrong. At those times, these verses help me reset my focus:

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.  (Colossians 3:23-24, NASB)

They came alive for me the year I decided to clean my husband’s car as a Father’s Day gift. I started out cheerfully, wanting to show my husband that I loved and appreciated him. But I grew tired of the task long before it was finished. I had to decide: did I say “good enough” — even though the car was not yet clean — or push on? In my heart, a half-done job communicated half-hearted love and commitment to my husband, which was certainly not the message I wanted to send! The above verses came to mind, and I asked myself, “If this were Jesus’ car, would I be proud to present it to him as is?” The answer was definitely no. So I shifted my focus; cleaning the car was now a gift I was giving my Savior: the gift of loving my husband well, even when it was uncomfortable and inconvenient. That gave me the stamina I needed to finish the job, praying for my husband as I continued. I discovered a secret of far more life that day: I am always serving Jesus!

“It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” That statement is true of every situation we face. Whoever makes a request of us, it is the Lord that we serve with our answer. And not just at church. Serving your family by cooking and cleaning is serving the Lord. Serving your friends by listening and helping is serving the Lord. As is serving a stranger. And serving those in your life who are hard to love. Far more life serves Christ by serving people.

That does not mean we are obligated to say yes to every request made of us: sometimes we must say no to one in order to serve the Lord in a different way. We have limited resources: time, physical energy, money, and emotional energy. When we need to choose between options, we often find far more life in opportunities where we can invest rather than spend our resources.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:9-10, NIV)

When a resource is limited, we tend to value it more. Those living on a tight budget carefully consider each expenditure to stretch their money the furthest. Those with busy schedules carefully consider each new commitment to determine whether it will add to their lives. When we value our resources, we want to invest them so we get a return. We want to gain something in the transaction. The verse above promises that our investment of doing good will reap a harvest, at the proper time. We must invest in faith, trusting that God will faithfully reward us when it is time. I think it is easy to see this in parenting. We invest countless hours caring for, training, loving, correcting, encouraging, teaching, and investing in children before they genuinely notice or appreciate our efforts. Some of our investments will not be acknowledged until we stand before God in Heaven. But we can wait patiently when we know we are ultimately serving Him, not people. Far more life views doing good as an eternal investment.

When my children were young and required a lot of my energy, an older, experienced friend wisely advised: View your day as a marathon rather than a sprint. This was especially true for me the one day each week my husband was gone before the children woke up in the morning and returned long after they were in bed that night. The children and I had an abundance of time together those days, but I had limited physical and emotional energy, and a long day. So I kept those days simple — saying no to some requests — to make the most of our time together. I was serving God — not just my husband and children — and investing in my most important relationships.

Many of us are facing a life circumstance that feels like a marathon. Perhaps we can see the finish line, perhaps not. You may be getting tired and want to say “good enough” and stop. You may have lost sight of why you are even running the race. Look to the Lord Christ through prayer and His Word for strength to keep going. Fill your mind with reminders that He is the one you are truly serving. When the course forks, and always choose the path that leads to righteousness. Find far more life in each good work you do for Him.

Sisters,
What task or situation are you tired of doing?
In what way are you serving the Lord Christ through it?
Where are you investing your resources? Where are you merely spending them?
Are you facing a marathon circumstance? How can you keep your eyes on Jesus?
Thank Him for offering far more life as you serve Him!
-Shari


Time to Invest

We all have 60 minutes each hour. 24 hours each day. 7 days each week. 52 weeks each year. We can invest our time wisely and reap huge dividends, both now and in heaven. Or we can spend it on pursuits that yield a temporary thrill at most. One choice lets us survive while the other helps us sustain far more life.

So be very careful how you live, not being like those with no understanding, but live honorably with true wisdom, for we are living in evil times. Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for his purposes. (Ephesians 5:15-16, TPT)

People who spend their lives for God’s purposes do more than accumulate possessions and experiences during their time on earth. They understand their God-given purpose and mission is to love Him and share His love with others. Investing in God’s work may not generate instant results, but it does produce eternal rewards. The far more life we find as we take full advantage of each day reminds us that our hope rests in Heaven, not immediate gratification on earth.

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. (Colossians 3:23-24, NASB)

Whatever you do. Life is not a collection of spiritual and non-spiritual activities. When the Holy Spirit lives inside us, everything we do is a spiritual activity. We can work for God, regardless of our job. We can recreate or rest for God. We can learn and grow for God. We can give and serve for God. We can also do each of these activities without God. The choice is ours; will we choose life or far more life?

It takes more than just showing up to maximize our eternal yield and walk in far more life each day. The heart behind our investment is a key factor in the yield. Mundane tasks — like laundry and changing diapers — can be more profitable than leading a Bible study; it depends whether we are simply doing the “right” thing with an empty heart or “taking full advantage” of opportunities to love God and others. We take full advantage by remembering His instructions:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21, ESV).

Acquiring earthly treasures — belongings, experiences, even relationships — can bring us temporary pleasure. But investing our heart and time in God’s purposes leads to far more life and treasure that will last for eternity! We do not always understand the impact of our investment, but God is orchestrating the efforts of many individuals to accomplish His will.

The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. (I Corinthians 3:8, NLT)

Investing in God’s work of planting and watering spiritual seeds can take more than our time; it can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. We know there will be an eventual payoff, but we can still grow weary from our labor. How do we maintain far more life in those conditions?

A wise friend once shared an “energy equation” that has been helpful to me. She explained that we all experience three types of interactions/activities: those that energize us (+3); those that are neutral, neither adding nor taking energy (0); and those that draw more energy than they give back (-3). If we are regularly in the hole, we are guaranteed to burn out and miss far more life. To be healthy, the sum of these interactions must consistently be zero or above. To experience far more life and have all we need to invest in God’s kingdom, we need a positive balance.

When my energy equation is below zero I often read or play mindless computer games to “rest”. But while my brain is distracted by those pursuits, I remain tired and reluctant to re-engage. Since they are not refreshing, those activities are probably a 0 rather than the +3 that I need. But if I invest the same amount of time exercising, meditating on God’s Word, writing, or napping, I find myself energized and ready to re-engage. Rather than “unplugging” by retreating into a virtual world, I am learning to ask myself, “What do I need right now to truly energize my body and spirit?”

As you look at your calendar and commitments, be intentional about your time investments. Prayerfully consider what you have to give each day and the refreshment you need to live far more life with a God-pleasing heart. Allowing time for connecting with God, eating healthy food, exercising, laughing, and sleeping is important for sustaining far more life. Remembering to include those in your daily energy equation will enable you to consistently join God in investing in His kingdom…people. Those are the only investments that will continue paying dividends for eternity!

Sisters,
Is most of your time spent or invested? Are you consistently experiencing far more life?
Are your treasures primarily on earth or in heaven?
What is your energy equation right now? What will truly energize your body and spirit?
Pursue far more life today as you invest in God’s kingdom!
-Shari

Copyright 2019-20, Shari Damaso

Far More Passion

When we started this blog journey, I promised we would discover our passion. I expected to discuss spiritual gifts and the satisfaction we find serving God and blessing others using the traits He wired into us. But that is not where the path has led.

As each week’s post comes together, a new perspective on passion is taking shape in my heart and mind. Using our gifts may be a way to express our passion, but recognizing the source of our passion is the key to sustaining far more life. If we want far more life moments, our passion needs to be fed. But what is the source? Fortunately it is revealed in Scripture:

But God was very, very kind. He loved us very, very much. We were dead because of the wrong things we had done. He has made us alive with Christ. You have been saved by his love and kindness. (Ephesians 2:4-5, WE)

…I also pray that love may be the ground into which you sink your roots and on which you have your foundation. This way, with all of God’s people you will be able to understand how wide, long, high, and deep his love is. You will know Christ’s love, which goes far beyond any knowledge. I am praying this so that you may be completely filled with God. (Ephesians 3:17b-19, GW)

God’s love is our source of passion! It is the foundation on which far more life is built. As our understanding grows our passion is sparked. We discover far more life is only found in God. And it is not something we keep inside, it shines for all to see. Far more life is not really about us; it is about Him.

If you discovered the cure for cancer, wouldn’t you be passionate about sharing it with everyone suffering from that dreadful disease? If a doctor introduced you to that cure, wouldn’t you tell everyone about him or her as well? Of course you would! Sin is like spiritual cancer, and you have discovered the cure: perfect love! More importantly, you have a relationship with God who is Perfect Love!

Curing cancer — of the physical or spiritual variety — does not just prevent you from dying. It also offers you life. And once you have been rescued from death, you want to experience and share far more life with everyone who crosses your path! You are passionate about the cure and the One who cures. Living out this verse becomes your desire:

Everything you say and everything you do should be done for Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus. (Colossians 3:17, ERV)

To our sinful nature, this verse can sound like a heavy burden to carry, one more expectation placed on us. But when we read it with a heart that is full of God’s love, it resonates with us and motivates us to respond. Living for Jesus in all we say and do is far more life! It expresses exactly what we want to do as a new creation in Him. It satisfies us and fulfills us because it is what we were designed to do. It is not a burden or an expectation. It is our response to receiving His love.

We can tackle any task with passion when we remember Who we are doing it for and why He deserves our best. When we understand and remember His love for us, we are motivated to love Him back. We are wise to adopt the instruction given to slaves just a few verses later:

Whatever you do, do it from the heart…you serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24, CSV)

When I grow weary in the middle of task, this verse encourages me to keep going. I ask myself, “If I was doing this for Jesus, would I be satisfied to stop now?” Usually the answer is no. I want to give Jesus my best. So I can cheerfully keep going — whether I am serving, teaching, exhorting, giving, leading, or showing mercy — when I picture Jesus on the receiving end. I may not be passionate about the particular task, but I can be passionate about loving Jesus and being a vessel of His love to the people around me.

Let’s be honest: there are some things that we naturally enjoy more than others. It is okay to prefer babysitting a friend’s children over holding her hand through a medical procedure. It is okay to prefer giving money to hire a job done more than leading a work crew doing the task. It is okay to prefer writing one person an encouraging note over leading a large group Bible study. There is a variety of needs around us, so God has given us a variety of gifts and skills to meet them. Thankfully if we look around we can usually see a place to serve God and others that we will enjoy. But the fact remains: whether we are doing something we enjoy or something we don’t, we can always do it to the best of our ability with a passion for God. We can always choose far more life.

Sisters,
What reminds you of the vastness of God’s love for you?
Does that make you passionate for God today?
If your passion is weak right now, will you invest in better understanding God’s love for you?
Adopt the mindset that you are working for Jesus this week. What changes do you notice in your feelings, thoughts, and actions?
Enjoy far more life growing your passion this week!
-Shari

Copyright 2019-20, Shari Damaso