This year has been a very interesting time for many reasons. Lots of changes—lots of new adventures.
There are several different causes creating all of these new “affects”, one of which is that this year I turned forty.
As I was approaching 40 and other women started talking about how your metabolism and hormones and all that stuff starts to change when you turn 40, I thought they were exaggerating. Then I went to my doctor and he said, “You know you are 40, and things are going to start slowing down.” I thought he was being a pessimist.
Now that I’m 40 I realize that these people either put a curse on me or they were just right. Things are changing and shifting, and sagging. I’m now experiencing these lovely things called “hot flashes”. Sleep is a much more precious commodity than it was when I was in my twenties. With each passing month, I’m realizing more and more that “I’m 40 and all the people who said that your body changes after 40 were right.”
Maybe that’s why I became so worried a few weeks ago when I started to notice changes in my vision. (Or maybe it’s just my tendency to be a hypochondriac). Either way, when my eyes felt strained at the end of the day, or I couldn’t read the road sign from a distance (or the writing on the television that was 6 feet in front of me) I started to panic.
Obviously, I was on the verge of going blind.
Or maybe I was developing cataracts.
At the very least I was sure that I needed to go to the eye doctors to have my eyes examined, make sure there were no diseases attacking my eyes, and best case scenario, get a much stronger prescription.
Then I worried about the expense.
And I’d have to pick new frames. (But I like the frames that I have now—what if they don’t have anything I like better?)
What if a new prescription didn’t fix it? What if there really was something wrong?
On and on I fretted, giving myself impromptu eye exams by covering one eye and trying to read the small writing at the bottom of the television screen, all the while blaming my deteriorating eyesight on the fact that I’d turned forty.
And then one day, something magical happened that alleviated all of my fears. (Okay, it wasn’t exactly magic, but it did produce amazing results.)
One day, as I was sitting behind the computer, I reached over and put my eyeglasses on. (Yes, my current prescription that I’ve had for 2 years)
Suddenly, I could see!
At the end of the day, my eyes weren’t strained and tired!
Amazingly enough, I got the same results when I wore my glasses to watch television---all of a sudden; I could read the writing at the bottom of the screen that was blurry before!
The same was true in the car—when I wore my glasses, I was no longer having vision problems---I could read all of the road signs and even the bumper stickers on the cars in front of me. (Not that their edifying comments were such a blessing, but still, I could see!)
It was a miracle!
No, actually, it wasn’t.
Really, it was nothing more than plain old common sense. When I finally gave up my vanity and did what my eye doctor told me to do years ago, I received the promised rewards of my obedience.
When it came right down to it, all of my fretting and stressing and hypochondria were for nothing. In the end all I really needed was to start doing what I’d already been told to do. When I obeyed, my vision problems went away.
That’s when I started wondering: How often could we apply this simple lesson to other areas of our lives?
How often do we panic and go to the worst case scenario when the real cause of our problem is basic disobedience?
How many times are we looking for a big miraculous solution to our problem, only to find that the answer is simply doing what we already know we should do?
For instance, how often do we think, “I just feel so disconnected from God. I don’t feel like He loves me, I don’t know what He wants me to do with my life…I just feel lost.”
Let’s be honest---it’s a common feeling that many Christians have from time to time.
What if instead of blaming God or running to our pastor to help us “fix” the problem, we asked ourselves these questions:
“Am I spending time alone with God in prayer?
Am I reading my Bible every day?
Is my devotional time a priority or the last thing on my agenda?”
The answers to these questions help us discern whether or not the problem lies with us. Perhaps if we chose to obey and do the things we already know we should be doing, our crisis would be solved.
This practice of self-examination can be applied to so many areas of our lives.
Would our relationships be stronger and healthier if we simply chose to obey the Golden Rule and put other needs above our own?
What if we chose to obey the Bible and forgive those who offended us rather than seek revenge?
What if we loved others the way Christ loved us and treated our friends, families, and co-workers the way Christ treats us?
These are all things we already know we should be doing. If we actually put them into practice, would the quality of our relationships (and our lives) be better?
Perhaps you’re struggling with depression or negative thoughts. Maybe you can’t sleep at night because you’re always having nightmares or worrying about what might happen. While there could potentially be many causes for this (some that may require medical attention or the help of a counselor) perhaps the best place to start would be asking yourself: “Am I creating this problem? Am I choosing to focus my mind on things that are evil, scary, negative, or ungodly or am I obeying the teaching of Philippians 4:8 and focusing my mind on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy?”
Maybe before you start taking anti-depressants, you should ask yourself, “What am I watching on television? What am I reading? What kind of music am I feeding my mind?”
The other solutions will always be available if they are necessary; however, if your real problem is disobedience to the Bible, nothing will cure your ailment until you start doing what you know is right.
Maybe you are struggling financially. Even though you’re working hard, it seems like there’s never enough money and you’re always swimming in debt. It’s even possible the constant pressure is making you question why God isn’t providing more money. Again, lots of people feel that way.
Yet, again, before we’re too quick to blame God, we need to stop and ask ourselves some questions like:
“Am I tithing?”
“Am I living on a budget?”
“Am I applying God’s financial principles to my life and situation?”
Could your choice to obey what God has already told you to do make all the difference in your life?
Could it be that the best solution for many of life’s dilemmas really is the simplest one?
Isn’t it at least worth a try?
Is it time for you to (figuratively speaking) put your eyeglasses on?
Even if doing the right things doesn’t completely solve your problem and further steps are necessary to bring resolution, choosing to obey the things you already know you should be doing will put you on the right road toward getting any additional help that you may need.
The truth is that you can never to wrong with obedience, while obstinately choosing disobedience will only lead to more problems, more hurt, more pain, and more suffering. (Honestly, who wants any more of that?)
Instead, this month, I challenge you: Start with self-examination. Ask yourself, “Am I doing the things that God wants me to do or have I fallen into the trap of lazy, complacent disobedience?”
James 4:17 says, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
When you find areas that you’ve replaced obedience with sin, don’t have a self-flagellating pity party! Instead, ask God to forgive you and then start doing the right thing now. (Rev 2:5)
Choose obedience today and start reaping the rewards!
James 1:22 -25 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”