God’s 2019 Gifts

My Advent devotional this morning focused on this verse:
But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. Luke 2:19 CSB
The devotion challenged that it is important to store up the mountaintop experiences in life in order to recall them for the tough experiences. Mary seemed to realize this at a young age.
In the hardest moments of our lives, we need to remember the victory of Jesus and recall all the ways we’ve seen His goodness. When you experience God’s faithfulness in your life, take a step back and store it up as treasure in your heart. Think of it often. When your toughest days come, like Mary, you will be able to endure. @youversion reading plan
I took this challenge and created an exercise. The exercise was to write down all the gifts God has given me this year. To help me remember, I looked back through my journal (an example of why journaling is a good thing). At completion, my list was twenty deep and filled up the page. That’s a lot of goodness. This exercise could be very encouraging and even worshipful. What gifts has God given you this year? How will you treasure them?

Missing God’s Gift (Something Misplaced?)

Yesterday a friend told me how different he is from who he was just 18 months ago. Earlier this week a group discussed how a coaching program has altered their life’s rhythms in just 7 weeks. These people were expressing how receiving a gift from God, such as leaving a successful corporate job to start all over or exiting the routine of life to enjoy Sabbath, has changed who they are. And they want more.

God’s gifts come to us in various formations. Sometimes they are clearly seen as coming straight from God. Other times, we are a little more challenged to determine if an opportunity or unforeseen blessing are indeed gifts from God. That is, unless we live from the viewpoint that God works at all times and through all things in our lives. Until we reach that viewpoint, it’s likely we will often miss God’s gifts.

Why don’t we automatically have this viewpoint? What keeps us from it? How can we move toward it? In talking with these people, I’d say they would say they had some things misplaced.

Misplaced Contentment-Yes, it’s possible to be so content that you miss noticing an offer from God. Our contentment can often lead us to settling, stubbornness, and even pride. So a God-given opportunity can appear unsettling, unnecessary, maybe even unworthy. Think rich, young ruler.

Misplaced Fear-In this case, fear of just about anything (loss of job/income, ability, identity, power/influence, health, security) or anyone (family, peers, leaders, employer, yourself) has been given higher rank than God. Think Moses’ initial bush response.

Misplaced Stewardship-Stewardship covers more in our lives than just finances. Stewarding your family, your talents, your choices, your time, your emotions, your mind, your body, for example. Think about most kings in the Old Testament.

Misplaced Allegiance-Satan is committed to leading us to misplace our allegiances. We can become more allegiant to so many earthly kingdoms that we miss God’s leading us toward his heavenly kingdom. Think about the Pharisees and Paul’s warnings about false teachers in the church.

Misplaced Commitment-Commitments lead to routines, obligations, and expectations-some short term, others long term. These can become idols causing us to be completely blind to something more aligned with God’s plans for us. Think Eli, Saul, or Martha.

We often miss God’s gifts to us because our misplacements lead us to consider way too many “what ifs.” So consider a few reverse thinking “what if” results when God’s gifts are missed:

  • What if you miss God’s gift because you ignore a burning bush?
  • What if you miss God’s gift because you run toward Joppa instead of Nineveh?
  • What if you miss God’s gift because you always look backward rather than forward?
  • What if you miss God’s gift because you follow the crowd and declare, “Crucify him!”
  • What if you miss God’s gift because your faith is so small that your reply to God’s offer is, “No thanks.”

Running Tuesdays: The Gift of Running

The question is why.

  • Why get up at 5am period, first of all? And then you go run?
  • Why put your body through it? What about your knees?
  • Why run when you can swim, bike, or at least use the elliptical?

That last one is easy. The elliptical was designed by the devil. Biking bores me. Swimming? I do it, but mostly for cross training or when my legs need a break. But do I love it? About like eating yogurt when you want ice cream.

Now about the body, that one is a little more complicated. If you haven’t already, google “is running good for you,” and you’ll find articles arguing both sides. It seems everyone agrees running isn’t for everyone. Not all bodies are built for it. Yet, many bodies thrive on it, even the pain of it. Here’s an article about pain, in particular the pain that runners, like ultra marathoners, tend to actually crave. As for the knees, thankfully mine haven’t been a problem for me. I believe that’s mostly due to making right choices about shoes, stretching, and rest. Speaking of right choices for the body, I certainly could do more cross training (look for more on this subject in the future). That is where the body is shored up to withstand the life of a runner. For me, I’m fortunate that running is for me and, of course, side with those who believe running is good for the body.

Scott Jurek says he runs to test his body and mind. Good for him. I’m fine with the tests my body and mind have passed and don’t feel the need to prove anything else in those areas. My reason for running is quite simple. I enjoy it. The struggle. The movement. The freedom. The solitude. The choice to think or not to think. The release. The joy. And when you cross a finish line knowing that you enjoyed the journey and completed what you committed to, you are stronger and have the peace of accomplishment. The pain is worth it.

Ryan Hall says he runs because God gifted him to, and he believes it glorifies God to use that gift. I’m no Ryan Hall. But I do thank God for giving all of us the gift of running.